Ah yes, bears, the ever so respected Ursidae family...
Originally hailed as mammals of distinct worship by the Chinese and Ainu cultures, Bears have had few difficulties finding their way into American pop culture. Whether it be amongst the subculture of heavy-set gay/bisexual men with hairy bodies and facial hair or within books, comics, poems, movies, TV programs, and video games, bears have found a home in our entertainment world and they are here to stay. The following list is a tribute to ten very special bears who have achieved an unmatched celebrity status in the bear kingdom of American arts.
10. FOZZIE BEAR
It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to move your green frog prostate Kermit, its the motherfucking Fozzie Bear show TONIGHT! This striving failed comedian has seen the worst side of rock-bottom and now he's earned himself a spot on our list for his resistance to rotten tomatoes, his ability to keep his head up high through the heckling and of course, for implanting that incessant, "Wokka, Wokka, Wokka," into the very core of our souls.
Don't want him on the list? How about you try saying that to Mr. T and maybe he'll show you the Fozzie tattoo on his left bicep fool! Yes, I'm serious.
While Fozzie Bear achieved cult fame status in his costarring role on The Muppet Show, it was Winnie-The-Pooh who broke down the dark walls of bear-oppression and made the big leap into starring roles with his 1960 debut appearance on NBC's "The Shirley Temple Show."
From his sick and obsessive glutton-fueled honey worship to the conflicted sinful lives of his botched up friends, (the E-popping, highly irresponsible Tigger the Tiger, Rabbit the obsessive compulsive, and his depressed waste of life buddy Eeyore), it is with great integrity that Edward Pooh finds his way into the shoes of our ninth most famous bear.
8. THE BERENSTAIN BEARS
If you're one of the 46 people on this planet who weren't raised reading Stan and Jan Berenstain's series of children books, "The Berenstain Bears," then you are probably dead or have it coming. This anthropomorphic family of bears taught us every life lesson we would need in our adult lives within the ease of 17-21 pages; beat that "The Bible!"
Complete with an abusive Papa Bear, sandwich-making Mama, slutty love interest Skanky Bear, and the borderline child-molester Professor Actual Factual Bear, this is a series that only can get better as you put on the years.
While the NES and SNES did offer several games where users could take on the role of a bear, our adventures were never able to stem further than "Super Care Bear Island: Legend of the Shiny Star."
In 1998, Rare Ltd. changed the world of gaming as we knew it by releasing the first unlicensed original playable bear in a video game ever for the Nintendo 64, "Banjo-Kazooie." This epic 3D platform/adventure let gamers take on the role of Banjo, a brown honey bear in jean shorts, constantly toting a backpack containing his best friend Kazooie, a large Red-Crested Breegull. Now finding itself with four highly acclaimed sequels under its belt within the last 11 years, it is clear Banjo has built itself a weighty franchise that will have us fighting Gruntilda Winkybunion to our own graves long before this ursina empire sees anything close to an ending.
6. COCA-COLA POLAR BEARS
There's nothing more refreshing than a Coke. I say this with an heir of confidence in the statement, knowing it is one of the most honest things I will ever go on to say. Ask me 16 years ago though, I may have had a different answer...
The year was 1993 and Coca-Cola was in trouble. With the release of their '91-'92 ad campaign entitled, "World War Coke and the Miracle of the Colacaust," politicians had already begun boycotting the beverage. Suddenly, a new mascot stepped forward, The Coca-Cola Polar Bear. Armed with adorable looks and the best drink in town, the Coke business was saved. Whether these CGI cuddle-snouts are sliding down an ice luge, soaring off a ski jump, or cuddling up to a box of their favorite syrup, they'll always remind us why bears are such an integral part of our world.
5. BEAR GRYLLS
Grylls is a British adventurer/motivational speaker/television presenter/certified bad-ass, best known as the host and star of "Man vs. Wild." In his 34 years on Earth, Bear has climbed Mount Everest with a broken back, rowed across the Thames naked in a homemade bathtub, crossed the north Atlantic Arctic Ocean in an open inflatable boat, paramotored over Angel Falls, paramotored over the Himalayas, created a world record for highest open-air formal dinner party in a hot air balloon, and another for longest indoor freefall.
What could possibly be next for Bear? You guessed it, drinking the Pacific Ocean.
4. THE 1985 CHICAGO BEARS
Now under the direction of former 60's tight end, Mike Ditka, the Bears were stronger than ever. Losing only one game for the season, (their unlucky 13th, against the Miami Dolphins), the '85 Bears were becoming the team to fear and proved this by crushing the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
The team soon became notorious for Ditka's use of lineman "Refrigerator" Perry, (a 400 pound monster, literally), to taunt the Packers at Lambeau Field to the brink of tears. 1985 was also the year the Bears recorded their legendary novelty rap, "The Super Bowl Shuffle." The Giants tried, the Cowboys tried, even the Lions tried, but no team has ever been better than the 1985 Bears.**
3. YOGI BEAR
Is it possible to look at a picnic basket without thinking of Jellystone's favorite grizzly? No.
Regarded simply as, "too good of a supporting character," Yogi quickly was removed from Hanna-Barbera's "Huckleberry Hound Show" and given a starring role in "The Yogi Bear Show." There he morphed into a pseudo-recreation of Art Carney's Ed Norton character from "The Honeymooners" who terrorized the campers of Jellystone Park by stealing picnic baskets and mauling children with the accompaniment of his best friend Boo Boo, girlfriend Cindy Bear, and arch rival Park Ranger Smith. Repeating a relentless four catchphrases, "I'm smarter than the average bear," "Pic-a-nic Baskets," "Hello, Mr. Ranger, sir," and "Hey, Boo Boo," throughout over 30 years of spin-offs, it is no wonder Warner Brothers announced a live action feature film scheduled for a 2011 release.
2. GUMMI BEARS
Candy makes everything better, bears are no exception. These small German gelatins typically come in five flavors, lime (green), lemon (yellow), raspberry (red), orange (orange), and pineapple (clear).
Over the course of the last century, candy companies have tried thousands of other gummi variants: worms, rings, frogs, snakes, hamburgers, cherries, cola bottles, sharks, hippos, lobsters, children, octopuses, apples, peaches, oranges, Smurfs, Spongebobs, spiders, and weapons, yet none have even come close to matching the success of the bear when it comes to candy. Well, maybe the worms...
1. SMOKEY BEAR
If you think there's a more famous bear out there you must be suffering from smoke inhalation. While we've seen bears with television shows, bear video games, bears playing football, bear sponsored drinks, bear books, and even edible bears, nothing can compare to a bear that actually prevents forest fires. Modest as he is, Smokey Bear would correct me as saying, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires," but we all know who the real hero is.
Not only has this Ad Council mascot been featured in over 120,000 separate advertisements to date, he has also had his own theme song, "Smokey the Bear," since the 50's, a stamp collection featuring his wise sayings, and even his own U.S. federal law, The Smokey Bear Act of 1952, which protects his name and image from ever being used by someone outside of the United States Forest Service. If that's not extreme, nothing ever will be.
In April 2001, Smokey's famous slogan was updated to "Only you can prevent WILDFIRES." Although his diction has been altered, his message is as clear as ever, everyone is an integral element of our society and it is with good faith and impeccable heart for the ethical that Smokey Bear is here for us. For this, Smokey warrants himself nothing lower than the number one spot on this list of the totally top ten famous bears.