Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PETA Accuses Mario of Killing Raccoon Dogs

Image Source: gamepro.com

The internet is all a buzz with PETA's latest advertising campaign targeting Nintendo's Mario character and his choice to wear a raccoon dog suit in order to give him special abilities in his video games. PETA has pointed out that while sporting a full animal suit has no consequences in the video game world, playing the game might actually influence people to wear fur in real life. In this case life imitates art for the raccoon dogs (tanuki) of Asia who are killed for their fur coats. Of course many people are quick to criticize PETA and point out that the link between actual animal cruelty and Mario wearing a tanooki suit in the games is faint at best.

People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):
"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 a Tanooki in the Mario games, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur." 
Nintendo has responded to PETA's  accusations by making the following comments:
"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games. These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves." (Source: NintendoLife.com)
Obviously. Did anyone actually think that Nintendo was going to make a statement saying anything but this exact thing? One of the most interesting things to come out of this campaign is the amount of backlash and hate comments aimed at PETA. When reading them, you get a sense that people are genuinely worried that PETA's sole purpose in life is to ruin cherished childhood memories.

Mario: saving the Princess by any means necessary (Image Source: CosplayHouse.com)

Why are people so offended by PETA's claims? Is it because people actually think the organization is trying to tarnish the reputation of one of the worlds most beloved Nintendo characters? Of course they aren't: They are simply trying to raise awareness about the plight of raccoon dogs. Let's be honest before Mario was accused of abusing them, how many people even knew about raccoon dogs? Of those people how many knew they were being skinned alive and worn as coats? PETA is known for controversial marketing campaigns, and while it might be easy to criticize them, they do what they set out to do, which is raise awareness of animal cruelty and bring them to the front of the public consciousness.

A Raccoon Dog. Image source: FactZoo.com

On PETA's website they have gruesome video footage of raccoon dogs being caged, beaten, hanged, bludgeoned and skinned alive for their pelts. People who do wear fur may hear about the situation of raccoon dogs, partly thanks to Mario, and if they are truly upset about what they see, they may change their buying habits because of it. 

Don't worry Nintendo fans, I am sure that PETA doesn't really believe in it's animal-loving heart that Mario is evil. Let's look at him instead as being the hero yet again, by aiding PETA for bringing the plight of raccoon dogs to the attention of the world.

For anyone interested: PETA has created a game called "Super Tanooki Skin 2D" where you can help Tanooki reclaim his stolen fur. You can check it out here

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