(Ed: PETA has released a statement saying this was just a joke… really?
“Mario fans: Relax! PETA’s game was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, a fun way to call attention to a serious issue, that raccoon dogs are skinned alive for their fur,” Shakira Croce, PETA’s media coordinator said. “We wish real-life tanukis could fly or swat enemies away with their tails and escape from those who profit from their skins. You can help them by never buying real fur.” from Kotaku)
We all know Mario. He’s been saving Princesses for over 25 years, even if they were in another castle. We’ve grown to love him and his plumber antics. He has become a part of our culture and helped to save the video game industry in the eighties. He’s done everything from cleaning up graffiti to playing golf, but has he also been responsible for animal cruelty? PETA seems to think that he is in Super Mario 3D Land.
PETA has created a website to explain Mario’s supposed crime against animals. On the top of the site it says this:
“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!“
Then there is this gruesome picture of a blood-soaked Mario holding the decapitated head of a raccoon while he is wearing the freshly skinned fur of a “Tanooki.” This is placed right next to a (horribly made) flash game where you play a skinned Tanooki chasing after Mario with the goal of getting your freshly skinned fur back from an evil Mario.
Isn’t this a little gruesome?
First off, I want to answer the question I posed in the title of this article: is PETA’s attack on Mario justified? My answer is an unwavering no. For one thing, Mario does not skin these animals. He touches a golden leaf to get the power-changing suit, which was not inhumane the last time I checked. This is a video game and everything in this game is intended to be fictional. If Mario were to actually skin these animals to get a suit, then I would understand. Under this state of logic, I guess kids would assume that if they were to go outside right now and cover themselves in leaves they would then gain the ability to turn into a magical flying raccoon person.
For those of you who remember, the Tanooki Suit was originally found in Super Mario Bros. 3 but gave you different powers than the Tanooki suit found in Mario’s newest adventure. The thing is, there was no controversy when Super Mario Bros. 3 came out in 1988. There were no activists screaming that he was promoting animal cruelty or other inhumane acts. What I find rather humorous is the fact that no one has said (as far as I can tell) that he was promoting animal cruelty by wearing a bee suit or a ghost suit. Mario has set giant plants on fire and he has stomped on turtles, stealing their turtles shells that he then uses to dish out even more bodily harm to other defenseless animals. These acts seem more violent than touching a leaf to turn into an Italian plumber wearing a raccoon costume. Why has no one said anything about these monstrous act of animal violence? Probably because most people realize that this game is fictional and nothing in it is real, like when you go down a pipe and find a bunch of golden coins. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen in real life.
What do you all think of this? Do you think that Mario promotes animal cruelty? Post your thoughts on the matter in the comment section below.