The monsters have no historical antecedents. They’re clearly not animals, and they’re not the caricaturization of a person. They sit, instead, as the third point of a triangulation — not between humans and animals, but equidistant from the two. They’re clearly meant to invoke something of our environment: the Philadelphia Phillie’s Web site lists the Phanatic’s birthplace as the Galapagos Islands — a place whose name evokes rich ideas of life and biology and evolution — and not some place as fanciful as the Phanatic itself. It’s interesting to see the role the Phanatic plays. He has an animal-like innocence that gives him a pass for stealing cotton candy or ribbing Jack Nicholson or dressing in drag and seducing an umpire. Yet he’s also an asshole. He mines guy-on-guy attraction for laughs. He steals. He famously mocked Los Angeles Dodgers coach Tommy Lasorda so incessantly that the latter finally erupted at a 1988 game and “body slammed” the Phanatic.
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