By Madeline Perez
We live in an age of infinite possibilities. Often, those possibilities involve the creation of a fictional world, and in this world, a bear. It can prove impossible to create rankings of a genre so wide and encompassing (the fictional bear genre), but in my resolve to lasso the most daunting of challenges, I have since birthed from my thought canal a list. A list to destroy all other lists. A list so listlessly list-like it embodies reductionist thought to a mere-metal framework—infinitely simple yet beautifully complex—for me to place my favorite and least favorite fictional bears into. In my research, the pool of existing fictional bears was more like an ocean—so deep and vast that it was less of a search and more like a memory of a near-drowning experience. I must apologize in advance: I chose to omit most bears for this reason, and your favorite (or most despised) bear may not have even been an inkling dancing in my mind. Because of this, many will disregard my research with an elitist air to which I say: Go stick it up your butt. I have scientifically formulated the top 5 best and top 5 worst bears with math and your feelings and opinions are therefore a moot point. Without further ado, bear with me here, and let’s delve into the ranking of the century. —no, of the history of time.
The bad bear list:
5. Freddy Fazbear
The titular antagonist of the Five Nights at Freddy’s Universe, Freddy Fazbear killed me multiple times by mistaking me for a metal endoskeleton without its costume on and consequently forcibly stuffed me into a spare Freddy suit. This is why I hate him and he is now on my bad bear list.
4. Winnie the Pooh
Oh, bother indeed! Now, you may be thinking, “Madeline, how does such a loveable, unproblematic bear wind up on your bad side?” It’s simple: I resent him for his simple life and wish I too could respond to the most harrowing scenarios with nothing more than a basic expletive. I also wish I had the confidence to rock a statement crop top. That’s not to mention the fact that Disney Adults, one large group of my sworn mortal enemies, have latched on to all things “Pooh Bear” tighter than an infant rhesus monkey does to a cloth mother. This is most likely a coping mechanism for the fact that these full-grown adults will continue to age, even if they can’t shut up about how they’re “still a kid at heart.” Please stop getting engaged in front of the Cinderella Castle. You are on my very long hit list. Also—his name is literally poo.
3. The Charmin Bears.
You’ve gotta be kidding me. This one is not so much a single bear, but more a bear lifestyle, pervasive across several mediums (3D and 2D animation) and species (Blue, red, orange, and brown bears alike) but all resulting in the same fucked-up commercial message: I love wiping my ass. There is nothing more to life than that invigorating, clean, shitless feeling. I wish I could constantly poop solely to wipe again and get one iota of that sense so pleasurable it borders on darkly sexual. These bears are sick fetishists and the worst part is they have indoctrinated their dorky bear-children into this revolting scatological cult. They need to be obliterated.
Holy shit. Words cannot describe how much I hate this bear. Known for his role in the 2012 R-rated dumpster-fire that is “Ted” (starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis), he showed me that life isn’t such a sunshiney, happy place it’s made out to be in childhood. No—this world is a place where “Ted” was allowed to happen, disproving the theories of “humanity is inherently good” and “God” alike. Checkmate, theists.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat down watching some acid trip Muppet Show episode from 1977 when suddenly this dirty fat fuck comes on screen and ruins my week. Casuals who think they’re so quirky for knowing the Rainbow Connection from a movie or two have no idea about the sacrifices one must make to be a true Muppet fan, and one of these sacrifices is your sanity as original series Fozzie takes a shit on it. There has never been a character so annoying, so terribly unfunny, that makes me gouge my eyes out and attempt to use the remnants to plug my ears. Like, I get it—the joke is that as the comedian, it’s ironic that he is the least funny character. They didn’t have to go this far. Fozzie is the reason this article was written. Fozzie haunts my everyday life. Fozzie is always in the corner of my eye, taunting me, eternally. Fozzie stands over me while I sleep, telling the same terrible jokes that make the two old guy hecklers commit ritualistic suicide every episode. Fozzie is everything I hate about the world. Fozzie is everything I hate about myself. Fozzie is the prostitute that broke my parent’s marriage. Fozzie is my dance teacher telling me I’m ‘too big’ to play the White Swan. Fozzie is when there’s not enough money in my bank account. Fozzie is ugly crying in the bathroom, not being able to look in the mirror because the boy who said he loved me decided he loved my sister more. Fozzie is war. Fozzie is 9/11. There is one thing that Fozzie is not, and that is a comedian.
Thus concludes the worst bears ranking. Now, let’s consider the best bears.
My life was forever changed in 2007. While most of the nation was struggling through the financial crash, I was exposed to a funny green dude with a 5 o’clock shadow and yellow underpants. He sang the Gummy Bear song.
Oh, I’m a Gummy Bear. Yes, I’m a Gummy Bear! Oh, I’m a Yummy, Chummy, Funny, Lucky Gummy Bear.
For his amazingly positive impact on my life, Gummibär goes on the good bear list. I WILL look for the Gummy Bear album in stores on November 13th!
4. Smokey Bear
We stan an environmentalist king. Something about him tells me he knows the ins and outs of wilderness survival as well as female anatomy. Plus, have you seen his outfit? It’s probably easy to extinguish fires when you’re so dripped up. I love “Only you can prevent forest fires”—he’s talking directly to me!!!
3. Brother Bear (Kenai)
Brother Bear is a heartwarming 2003 American animated musical fantasy comedy-drama film that teaches forgiveness. I simply like it. Kenai goes through some certified character development, which is just great for him, and I enjoy when aurora borealis is a plot point. He’s voiced by Joaquin Phoenix, who does a phenomenal job, the animation is on point, and it really paved the way for the forest-trek-journey trope where the annoying one knows the way. At least there was a grace period before Sony Pictures Animation pooted out Open Season.
- Kung Fu Panda (Po Ping)
Skadoosh indeed! Po is a hilarious relatable bear who initially struggles with self-doubt, yet grows to embrace his role and be confident as himself because everyone else is already taken. Brilliant! Po taught me so many things such as: determination, resilience, self-confidence, humility, clowning, love, responsibility, and kung fu. He was the spearhead of the fat-acceptance movement. God save the Dragon Warrior.
- Sleepytime Bear
Oh lord, what is this nighttime bliss? Am I dreaming? This is no dream, merely a box of Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepytime herbal tea. Robust illustrations portray an evening scene wherein lies a cozy bear in what I presume are his pajamas. Near the hearth of a gently blazing fire and tea by his side, Sleepytime Bear dozes with a calm so complete I fear he may be dead. He is the best bear, and may very well be the only bear in my eyes; He embodies all I love about the world, and the comfort I one day wish to achieve. When I first laid eyes on this fantastic bear, the rest of the world dissipated away like honey in a cup of warm, narcotizing herbal tea. The meaning of life suddenly became as clear as day: drink tea and fall asleep. I’d like to thank Sleepytime Bear for all he’s done for me. Thank you, bear. Sleep tight.
And thank YOU to everyone who got to the end of this list! While you may be sad that it’s over, I have some honorable mentions for bears that it broke my heart to not include in the good bear list. A big shout out to Corduroy for teaching me that I’m lovable even if I’m missing a few buttons. To Baloo for teaching me child endangerment is funny. And finally to Yogi for that Baby Got Back scene in his 2010 animated movie.
Of course, some bad bears who didn’t make the cut because I still love them include Vincent (Over the Hedge) for the way he says “Moon’s full, RJ. See ya in the morning,” and Kumajiro, a pet polar bear owned by the personification of Canada, for his general existence in Hetalia. Hetalia fans are shitting yourselves right now, aren’t you?