Google Doodles: Don't be white or too famous

I rarely bother to click Google's interactive doodles, but yesterday's (June 13, 2017) confounded me.  Why did Atom Ant replace his cool suit with a striped cape, and why is he swatting away a cannonball before it squashes a fence? 

After reading the narrative, I discovered that it's not Atom Ant in a new cape.  It's a chirpy cricket.  And that's not a cannonball; it's a cricket ball.  Upon further inspection, I did recognize it, having slogged a few around in my youth, but if you live outside India, Pakistan, and a few British Commonwealth countries, it looks more like a cannonball.   

The doodle is celebrating a cricketing event known as the ICC Champions Trophy.  The narrative accompanying the Doodle exclaims, "We know that cricket is loved worldwide."  Really?  According to the article "Ranking sports' popularity" in the Sep 27, 2011 issue of The Economist, "[w]hat is important is not that it [cricket] is a global sport – very few countries give a hoot about it – but that it is phenomenally popular in two places, India and Pakistan, whose combined population makes up over a fifth of the world's total."

India!  That's curious…Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, hails from there.  He took over the subsidiary of Alphabet in 2015.  Moreover, at least compared to other minorities, Asians are well represented in Google's workforce – and many of their software engineers are from the cricket-crazed subcontinent.  Mr. Pichai himself wanted to be a cricketer.  This is suspicious.

It may be coincidence, but I've seen a lot of Indian-origin luminaries memorialized by the Doodles.  Intrigued, I did a search of "India" in the Google Doodle archive.  There were far more hits than for nations that have arguably had more influence on modern civilization, including England or Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Germany.  France, though still lagging behind India, was closer, thanks to repeating Bastille Day Doodles.  (Disclaimer: Some of the Doodles are only tangentially related to the country queried, but that applies equally to all.) 

I don't believe that this is by accident.  The Google Doodle team leader, Ryan Germick, admitted he received a "great" wake-up call after an advocacy group reported that between 2010 and 2013, 62 percent of people celebrated in doodles were white men.  Germick stated, "[T]aking that feedback to heart, we just tried a little harder to stray away from the top hundred list or whatnot of any given type of accomplishment."  Translation: Being white or truly famous will hinder your chances of Doodle recognition. 

This is significant because the doodles get a lot of views, appearing by default on every tabbed page in the Chrome browser, which is probably why Germick felt pressured.  It's nice that the Doodlers are culturally sensitive to the Doodle's geographic reach, but even Doodles shown in the U.S. seem to downplay American exceptionalism.   

The Doodle team's purported purpose is to "celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists."  Given that Google relishes promoting obscure people and events that suit its progressive agenda, this would be more accurate: "Doodles are revisionist attempts to downplay Western influence.  They celebrate cricket and obscure anniversaries and highlight niche figures who reflect our multicultural sensibilities."   After all, if they are outside the top hundred list, as Germick encourages, how famous can they be?

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