Mario, made better 🍄
Saturday, January 12, 2019 :: Tagged under: culture. ⏰ 4 minutes.
Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
🎵 The song for this post is the theme from Super Mario Bros. 2 (originally Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic!) composed by Koji Kondo. 🎵
Eric Thurm, in collaboration with Matt Lubchansky, wrote a fun article pleading Nintendo to turn Wario into a rabbi:
But there’s one glaring problem with Wario—he is also an enormous goblin man with a trollish nose who loves money. He is, unavoidably, a character out of a 19th century newspaper cartoon about the dangers of the Rothschilds or whatever other avatar of the globalist Jewish menace.
Yes, it’s true: Wario is kind of an anti-Semitic caricature.
This is not to say that Wario should be canceled—he rules too hard, and is too integral to the continued existence of the Mario Tennis and Mario Party franchises. There is another solution. Rather than expunging Wario from the Mario universe, Nintendo needs to acknowledge the possibility that he can reasonably be interpreted as Jewish, accept that as part of his identity, and give him some appropriate clothing and activity options in future games. If Mario’s Italian background can be a thread of his decades-long tapestry, there is no reason the same cannot be true for Wario’s—likely patrilineal, let’s be honest—Jewish heritage.
Nintendo has a few options as far as this goes. They could make Wario really more of a cultural Jew, and have him go to Shabbos dinner a few times a year and light Hanukkah candles with a fire flower. He could be more of a Larry David Jew—an antagonist who is less of an enemy to Mario and more of an annoying guy who keeps asking about the proper etiquette around freeing a princess and using other people’s Warp Pipes. But, for me, personally, there is exactly one thing Nintendo can do to get me to a point where I am comfortable with Wario’s clear Semitic lineage: make him a rabbi.
First of all, shut up. This is a good idea.
You should read the whole thing. The art's pretty rad, too.
Regarding Nintendo and brand cowardice, they decided to put their foot down and say Bowsette is not canon. If you missed this entire story, here's a great rundown:
[...] In September, Nintendo introduced a new power-up item into New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe called the Super Crown. The (quite innocent) object is used to transform Toadette into a Princess Peach version called Peachette - but naturally, this sparked a debate amongst Nintendo fans as to how the crown actually worked. Under the assumption it could morph any character into its Peach form, cartoonist ayyk92 applied the concept to Mario lore - namely, as a way to solve Peach's continued rejection of Bowser. And just like that, Bowsette was born.
People made "bowsettes" for other characters. The top there is of a chain chomp, and someone made a Solidette Snake.
Deconstruction is Sometimes Good
While you're here, let me direct you to one of my favorite internet writings: Critical Perspectives on Waluigi.
I, We, Waluigi: a Post-Modern analysis of Waluigi by Franck Ribery
Waluigi is the ultimate example of the individual shaped by the signifier. Waluigi is a man seen only in mirror images; lost in a hall of mirrors he is a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. You start with Mario – the wholesome all Italian plumbing superman, you reflect him to create Luigi – the same thing but slightly less. You invert Mario to create Wario – Mario turned septic and libertarian – then you reflect the inversion in the reflection: you create a being who can only exist in reference to others. Waluigi is the true nowhere man, without the other characters he reflects, inverts and parodies he has no reason to exist. Waluigi’s identity only comes from what and who he isn’t – without a wider frame of reference he is nothing. He is not his own man. In a world where our identities are shaped by our warped relationships to brands and commerce we are all Waluigi.
The two others are great too!
Adding political models for fun
A friend of mine slapped together political dynamics for the Mushroom Kingdom, and it's great. When asked to consider Mario's start as Donkey Kong's enemy, it gets better. Click through for the read 😄
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