originals\ Nov 18, 2011 at 10:00 am

A Mario Player's Letter to PETA


Dear PETA,

On behalf of gamers everywhere, we found your latest campaign to raise awareness of the fair and humane treatment of animals quite startling. Not once in the many decades that Super Mario Bros. has existed have you ever taken offense to anything Mario, his sibling, or any other citizen of the Mushroom Kingdom has done, either in the war against Bowser or the plumbing business.

We’re beginning to wonder if, in executing this stunt, you inadvertently communicated that you care more about Tanuki, Japanese raccoon dogs, than you do about frogs, turtles (koopas), or even the mythological rights of dragons, a beast that the fire-breathing Bowser so closely resembles.

Now that we think about it, Mario stomps or fireballs or flat out stampedes (when he’s got the power of stars behind him) a lot of hapless creatures in his quest to rescue his darling Peach. What about the ethical treatment of Boos? Those poor ghosts have feelings, too, and they blush every time someone looks at them. For years players have cruelly used Mario as a means to torture them, making him look in their direction and then turn away, only to turn quickly around again in the hope of catching them off-guard. Boos are frightfully insecure beings, and Mario makes fun of them every time he invades their quiet little homes.

super mario tanooki peta

In fact, I think my fellow gamers would agree when I say that no Mario player has ever thought about skinning raccoon dogs or any other animals Mario wears as a suit alive until now. For all we knew, they could have been cloth costumes that the Mushroom Kingdom had lying around from their last castle Halloween party. They could even be made from organic materials that help the environment. Apparently that’s all the rage among fashionistas now, and guess who rules the Mushroom Kingdom? A blonde girl in a pink dress.

Now every time a man, woman, or child boots up a copy of a Mario game, they’re going to have that gory image of a crazed, bloodthirsty Tanooki Mario stuck in their heads. They’re going to cry every time to try to play a family-oriented game. We hope you’re happy. And speaking of boots and other footwear, we never once questioned where the Kuribo’s Shoe came from. “Kuribo” is the Japanese word for goomba, those grumpy little mushroom things that roam around the Kingdom. Now we’re concerned that an actual goomba was harmed in the making of that shoe, and another goomba sadistically hopped around in its flesh before Mario killed him for it. We thought only Princess Peach loved shoes that much, but maybe we were wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.

Who’s next on your hit list, PETA? What other lovable, happy-go-lucky icon from our childhoods are you going to destroy? Link? He communes with the furry critters of Hyrule, for god’s sake. Animals gather around him in the woods and listen to his beautiful ocarina music. Are you going to flog him as a chicken murderer? Does Link send the message that it’s okay to slaughter chickens (cuccos), just like you said that “by wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending a message that it is OK to wear fur”? And you going to make Link the scapegoat for your next anti-meat industry movement? Please don’t go getting any funny ideas.

link cuccos chickens murder peta

Our point, PETA, is that we’re disappointed in you. You thought you had a real winning idea there: targeting one of video game’s greatest stars. Now that star has fallen, and kids are asking mommy and daddy to check for Tanooki-killing Mario under the bed. He’s now the equivalent of Chucky. You’ve traumatized children, PETA, and angered millions—millions—of Mario fans worldwide. If you had chosen a character from a mature-rated series, we would have let you have your moment, lumped you with all the other media-hogging video game protesters, and forgotten all about it. Now you’ve hit a nerve. A very special nerve. It’s called Nintendo. And even PlayStation huggers and Xbox groupies love Nintendo.

Here’s a helpful hint: The next time you decide to ruin reputations in the name of animal rights, do it with something no one likes anyway. Then people will rally with you, not against you, and you’ll have made the news all the same.

I mean, couldn’t you have found a more evil character to pick on? We hear Ganon kicks dogs.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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