A few days ago PETA, the animal rights activists, decided that the new Super Mario 3D Land was not just a piece of harmless fun, but actually endorsing and encouraging the killing of animals for their fur. In a bid to raise awareness of the issue PETA even went to the trouble of creating their own 2D version of the game called Super Tanooki Skin 2D. Their website states:
“When on a mission to rescue the princess, Mario has been known to use any means necessary to defeat his enemy—even wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers.
Tanooki may be just a “suit” in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur. Play Super Tanooki Skin 2D and help Tanooki reclaim his fur!”
The game itself is fun in a silly flash game sort of way, but although the message behind the campaign is worth the furore, I have severe problems with the logic of the argument underlying it.
For a start I don’t think Mario is wearing real fur, he’s a computer character. I don’t even think it’s supposed to represent real fur, in much the same way I don’t think Mario’s activities are supposed to be representative of those of real plumbers – I imagine a real plumbing game would be rather boring. It is all a made up piece of nonsense that’s supposed to be entertaining.
At the end of the day the Tanooki suit is just a visual representation of the animals supposed mythical powers from ancient Japanese folklore – I hate it when I find myself defending internal logic, you should hear me defending Star Trek’s internal logic.
Second of all, I rather doubt that after playing Super Mario 3D Land, kids are going to be staking out in their yards all night hoping to catch and skin a raccoon alive – some may, but I think there might be something more sinister going on, in the minds of those kids’, than merely the malign influence of a fur jacket wearing plumber.
Most kids are quite fond of cute furry things when they are alive and far from giving the message that raccoons make good jackets, I imagine it will only increase kids interest in them as a nice friendly dude that helps Mario out, therefore they might be inclined to help the raccoons out.
Such a stir has been created by this whole affair that PETA have had to release a statement saying it was all just a bit of fun.
To be honest that is just how I see it too, both the real game and the spoof are enjoyable –as are the furious commentators on-line – and it has been a great PR stunt to raise awareness for both the game and more importantly the plight of the poor little raccoons.
What do you think about PETA’s stunt? Is it fair to cause controversy where there is none, to draw attention to a bigger cause, or is it rather unfair for poor old Mario’s public image?
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