The Brief: Gritty, the orange, fuzzy, and ugly mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers is a beloved meme, a symbol of Philly, and an Antifa hero.
Who Is Gritty?
On September 24, 2018, the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team introduced Gritty as their new mascot. He is seven feet tall, orange, fuzzy, and has crazy eyes. Gritty’s debut was met with skepticism and backlash at first, but people quickly warmed up to him and crowned him the meme king of the moment.
*Gritty is unveiled*
Philly: What the f*ck is this?
National Media: What the f*ck is this?
Philly: YOU LEAVE GRITTY ALONE HE IS A NATIONAL TREASURE
— CurrentFutureSixers (@Sixers2017Draft) September 25, 2018
Gritty’s popularity and memeability can be attributed to his grotesque but relatable appearance, home city of die-hard sports fans, and approachable silliness. On his official Twitter account, Gritty has attracted attention with funny photos, videos, and playful beef with other teams’ mascots.
Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird. pic.twitter.com/wLmGBa0Oyh
— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) September 24, 2018
The city council of Philadelphia issued an official resolution, welcoming Gritty to the town. After describing him as “an acid trip of a mascot, a shaggy orange Wookieeesque grotesquerie, a non-binary leftist icon, an orange menace, a raging id, and an antihero,” the document proudly states that “Gritty may be a hideous monster, but he is our hideous monster.”
Gritty is himself a meme and he is the subject of many Tweets, visual memes, and image macros.
Goodnight, internet. pic.twitter.com/gx2Pbxfcds
— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) September 25, 2018
Ladies, if he:
– never responds to your texts
– doesn’t watch your Insta stories
– has long, unkempt hair
– wears a helmet
– is in Antifa
– is orange
He’s not your man. He’s Gritty.
— jordan (@JordanUhl) November 24, 2018
I Photoshopped the new Flyers mascot "Gritty" into the background of a bunch of stock images…
— Benstonium (@Benstonium) September 27, 2018
An Antifa Hero?
Although the NHL has not provided information on Gritty’s political leaning, leftist and Antifa activists and meme-makers have claimed him as a representative of their cause. A counter to the Alt-Right’s Pepe the frog, Gritty has been incorporated into far-left memes, protest signs, and online discourse.
Antifa’s claim to Gritty sparked some backlash from conservative and far-right groups and individuals. A Wall Street Journal op-ed called for a depoliticization of the mascot, telling antifascists to “keep your Marxist hands off Gritty.”
Whether or not Gritty will last in the NHL or on the web, he certainly left his mark in the constantly-changing world of internet memes and political discourse.