The Olympics are well under way, which means, if you're watching, you've seen more flags in the last five days than the typical person without Asperger's sees in a lifetime. And you may have noticed that not all flags are created equal. For example, the American flag, frankly, kind of sucks. The stripey part looks like a crappy boating shirt from the clearance rack at Urban Outfitters, and the field of stars is idiotic, because who the hell designs a flag with planned obsolescence? Between 1816 and 1821, you would have had to buy a new flag every single year to keep apace with the states being added to the Union. Since 1821, another 26 states have joined the country, prompting flag changes all the while. It's also a pain in the ass to draw, as compared to, say, the flag of Ireland or Sweden or Russia. The American flag is not alone in being less than impressive, though.
There are plenty such flags in the world, from the British Indian Ocean Territory's hilariously literal one ("Let's see, let's see, we got water here ... And palm trees ... Oh, and we're a British territory, so put a crown on there ... You know what, why don't you put a Union Jack in the corner too, in case people forget to look at the crown.") to the flag most commonly used to represent Antarctica, which is just an aerial shot of the continent -- the box factory of flags. But I'm less interested in the straight-up crappy (American) or the super literal. These, instead, are the top ten Olympic nations' flags most clearly designed by middle schoolers.
Honorable Mention: Libya
The ne plus ultra of thrown-together flags, this probably would've been #1 if the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in 2011 hadn't consigned this thing to the trash can. Look at it. Look at it! It is a green rectangle. Not a field of green on which rests a symbol of the Libyan people or Islam or any goddamn thing else. Just green. "Hey, what's the Libyan flag look like?" "Oh, it's the green one." "Yeah, but what does it look like? What's on it?" "I told you. Green." Imagine getting this thing back from a graphic designer! "OK, I'd like something that represents Gaddafi's Green Book but also ties into the Islamic tradition somehow. Simple but powerful-" "Yeah, yeah, yeah, got it." Three seconds later, "Here you go, your maaajestyyyy. $2,000." To be fair, though, I guess I should applaud the restraint of just a solid green flag being chosen by a guy who went around looking this and this every day.
10. American Samoa
This one was evidently made by that kid who's always drawing his favorite logos all over his notebooks. He must have put off making a flag until the night before the Olympics, and then he just copied something off a mail truck. "What's that in the eagle's right claw, you ask? It's a stressed-out snake with feathers. Mom, leave me alone, I have to turn this in in 20 minutes! It was originally supposed to be wheat or something, OK? I had to draw it with a pen because I couldn't find a pencil in this stupid house. Shut up mom, no one's gonna care."
Don't mean to be disrespectful here, but come on guys. A dragon? Did you just cut this out of a bowling shirt? I think I can see some flames along the bottom. The only flag with its own tribal tattoo. Guy Fieri would wear the shit out of this flag.
This one's actually pretty damn cool. Look! They took the basic design of the hammer and sickle and turned it into a cog and machete! All those Internet libertarians who want to start their own micronation on an offshore drilling platform can put down their drawing tablets, because the steampunk flag of their dreams already exists. However, that is also precisely why it is clearly a middle school creation.
7. Marshall Islands
This looks exactly like a sweatshirt that everyone's mom had in 1987. I'm surprised it doesn't say "Martha's Vineyard" or "Dream." under the rainbow road part. The middle schoolers who made this one must now be nearing 40 and are looking back at designing the Marshall Islands flag as the high point of their lives. Poor guys.
Jayden: I'm concerned that you might not have put the appropriate amount of effort into this assignment. It looks an awful lot like you just copied Japan's flag but didn't even bother to line up the circle to go in the center. I also seem to remember you being upset that we were out of white felt and then just angrily grabbing a piece of green. Remember that your flag is supposed to be special and unique to you. I would like talk to you after class so you can explain some of the motivation behind your choices here. I hope you can enlighten me and I don't have to ask you to repeat the assignment.
Braxtyn, you will no longer be sitting next to Jayden. See me after class for a refresher on our honor code.
I'm not convinced that Seychelles didn't just forget its flag at home and then had to run out to the closest surf shop and grab an Ocean Pacific beach towel to use instead. "Yes, our flag has always said 'HANG TEN' in Taco Salad font on the back. Why do you ask?"
I actually think these look pretty decent, but they make the list for two reasons. For one thing, they're hilariously similar. Like, the Liberian flag is basically just the American flag with one star instead of 50, but it works because the modern country of Liberia dates back to a colony for freed American blacks. This is more like if Canada showed up one day with a flag that looked like this:
But also, look closer at either flag. That sun has a goddamn face! These flags are one step above drawing the album cover of "40 oz. to Freedom" on your TI-83 and calling it a flag. The sun on them is just a few pen strokes away from one of the suns I used to draw when I was 6 or 7, which had rat tails and tiny bodies dangling from them. A face!
"Sooo, I'm thinking a couple German flags stacked up and then a really badass chicken just like 'BLAOW!' right in the middle. Cool?" "Fuckin' rock and roll, dude. Can you give the chicken a mohawk too?"
An AK-47! Mozambique is that one kid on the first day of art class. You know the one. When everyone's tasked with decorating their projects folder and you dutifully start drawing the same picture of a hand drawing another hand that you've used to decorate every art class folder since 4th grade, he's drawing the Insane Clown Posse "hatchet man" and a skull with a jaw that's way too big and eye sockets that are way too high on the face. Also there's a rattlesnake slithering through the eyeholes.
An AK-47! I'd like to see the rejected pitches that were made before the Mozambique Flag Council. "Yeah, uh, my design is a weed leaf between a big ol' pair of titties. Up in the upper left corner here, Bugs Bunny and Taz dressed up like Kris Kross symbolize freedom, and also my love of Kris Kross." An AK-47. Get outta here, Mozambique. Ya nut!