A couple of weeks ago, the latest Super Mario Land game landed on the Nintendo 3DS. As a nostalgic homage to players, Nintendo decided to bring back the beloved tanooki suit (tanuki is a Japanese word meaning raccoon dog) much to vociferous fanfare from fanboys and fangirls alike. However, not everyone was a fan of the classic raccoon suit and tail. PETA the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals thought Mario had finally gone too far. It was enough that the classic Italian plumber had commit grand arson to hundreds of hungry piranha plants and mushrooms. Not to mention ground-pound turtles of all shapes and shells. But the tanooki suit was the last straw for PETA. PETA made headlines Nov. 16 when it targeted the tanooki wearing plumber as an abuser of animals and and advocate of wearing fur. PETA’s main issue is that Mario could be sending the wrong messages to lifelong gamers than animal abuse is acceptable and even rewarding. However, while animal abuse and cruelty is a horrible and unthinkable act, I think PETA has taken this a little too far.
PETA is often known for outlandish protests but those with a real message against the abuse of animals. However, when PETA begins targeting video game characters that when things get a bit messy, chaotic and at times comical. Mario is nothing but a mash up of pixels, programming and algorithms designed to entertain the player with his acrobatic feats and princess saving pizazz.
To me the most interesting thing about this whole PETA versus Mario protest is that this has never happened before in the history of video games (not to my knowledge and I’ve been playing since the SNES). Is this a sign that video games and their characters are garnering more attention and credibility as an art form akin to movies, TV programs and even the celebrities starring in these mediums? Or is it just a way for PETA to garner media attention.
Just one week after PETA made its initial protests, it rebounded from bad publicity by stating the whole matter was just a joke. But after looking through PETA’s website and feature on Mario, I can hardly say that they meant this as a joke. If you look here (http://features.peta.org/mario-kills-tanooki/ ) PETA has obviously spent some time, money and programming know=how to create a flashy page filled with the bright blues, yellows and greens of the Super Mario World, but something that has always been absent in his world is literally spilling all over the web page: blood.
Mario and his creator Shigeru Miyamoto are known for not having blood or any gory violence in their games no matter what the weapon or source material at hand or in play. However, PETA has taken a beloved childhood icon of mine and turned him into a ravenous raccoon-eating beast. Even the tail at the end of Tanooki on the top part of the page is more gruesome that what it really is by having the tail bone poke through the fur. I know that PETA’s whole marketing and protesting power is to elicit a reaction namely a fear and repulsed reaction but is it far of PETA to basically taint an essentially children’s icon? Does this web page do more harm to children than good?
There are so many issues with this protest that I cannot answer in this one blog, but what do you think? What other issues does this protest bring up and do you think PETA was right to call out Mario for wearing fur? Do you think PETA would have problems with other video games like say hunting games or do they just target the larger and more popular money making blockbusters? Tell me what you think!