Bears. From the stars in the sky, to the snuggly toilet paper mascot, they’re @#$%ing everywhere. For your Bear Friday perusal, this fun infographic courtesy of USA Today visualizes the entire web of pop culture bears as one inter-ursine chart.
Fascination with bears is nothing new, of course. Those who looked up at Ursa Major have seen the shape of a great galactic bear for thousands of years. In Greek mythology, this constellation was formed after Zeus lusts after a Lycaon nymph named Callisto, who was then transformed into a bear by a jealous Hera and ultimately set amongst the stars. The Native Americans worshipped bear gods and spirits, too.
But for the most part, we owe our fascination with the bear in pop culture to Teddy Roosevelt, who once famously refused to shoot a black bear tied to a tree. After the incident was turned into a political cartoon for the Washington Post, a toy maker named Morris Mitchom decided to capitalize upon the moment by releasing a series of cute, stuffed bears. And voila! The teddy bear was born.
These days, the world of branding and pop culture is lousy with bears. Bears who tell us not to start forest fires! Bears who sell us seltzer! Comedian bears who wear porkpie hats and incessantly wokka wokka! Bears that openly masturbate on late night television! Horrifying twerkin’ bears who hump Miley Cyrus! Even pedo bears!
Oh, Teddy R! What hath your compassion wrought upon us?