PETA's Fur-Wearing Mario Outrage Is "An Epic Cultural Misunderstanding"

The People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is expressing outrage over Mario's Tanooki Suit. That outrage is not only misplaced, but shows PETA's complete lack of cultural understanding—traditional or contemporary.

"Tanuki are associated with shape-shifting tricksters in folklore, and are also seen as symbols of good luck in Japanese culture," Yokai Attack author and game localizer Matt Alt told Kotaku. Tanuki in Japanese folklore are yokai, able to metamorphosize their shape, so it only makes sense that Mario could change into one.

In Japan, the tanuki is a popular traditional character. Ceramic tanuki with their oversized testicles, often found outside businesses and homes, are the Japanese equivalent of garden gnomes or pink flamingos. It is against this background that Nintendo inserted the Tanooki Suit into Mario.

Yet, PETA isn't looking at this point of view. PETA is looking at this from animal cruelty—and also a way to drum up some free publicity. "I understand why they're trying to raise visibility of tanuki in general," said Alt. "But linking it to Mario is an epic culture misunderstanding."

PETA launched a Mario Killes Tanooki, a bloody, skinned tanuki chases Mario. "Tanukis are real-life raccoon dogs who are beaten and, as PETA's undercover exposés show, often skinned alive for their fur," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman.

Never mind that Mario is a video game and no animals were hurt whatsoever, PETA lacks any sort of consideration or sensitivity and simply lumps Nintendo in with animal cruelty, something that is mean, spiteful and cruel in itself.

By PETA's logic, the ceramic tanuki dressed in baby clothes swiped these outfits from infants, meaning that they should be reported for theft and perhaps even child abuse.

Nintendo, like many Japanese creators, often draws from traditional folklore representation of animals. Take StarFox—as Q-Games' Dylan Cuthbert recounted, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto wanted a fox hero because of the animal's representation in Japanese culture.

The Tanooki Suit, however, doesn't only play on traditional Japanese folklore, but modern popculture. As Alt told Kotaku, it's kigurumi, or a type of cosplay in which people dress up in animal or character suits.

"If PETA really wants to get mad," added Alt, "get mad about Monster Hunter." Because in those Capcom games, players hunt and roast monsters." Won't somebody think of the monsters?

(Top photo: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku)

Comments

    Although (for once) an interesting article from Ashcraft isn't this "also a way to drum up some free publicity" for PETA?

      They may get attention, but I'm pretty sure they're not convincing anyone with a shred of common sense

    While I support thier general aims, PETA sure does some stupid stuff

      Yeah I agree completely.
      Things like this is not how they should go about making a positive difference.

    You assume PETA would give two shits about human children or the abuse of children... you assume poorly.

    I said this earlier, but i'm pretty sure peta's tactics are intentionally inflammatory. They want as many people out there to at least hear the news, which is in this case that dogs are skinned alive in asia for fur. It doesn't matter to them that people hate them in the process. People aren't going to go skin animals as revenge against peta, but dog skinning will at least exist in people's minds. And people will give peta attention next time they go nuts and accuse something of being evil. That's why they go to the effort of making mock-up games and setting up elaborate websites. It's just about exposing the practice. This will spread like crazy on the internet. But if it was just an article about skinning animals, who the fuck is going to want to share that. It's depressing.

    PETA are professional trolls, basically.

    Oh noes, a corporation that willingly uses violence and terrorist-like attacks on humans is complaining about a game character. Maybe they should set themselves on fire....maybe then people will pay them a second thought!

    PETA are the definition of human stupidity. One of my classmates was telling me how she was volunteering at a vet, doing reception. Dogs can heal from broken legs, EVERYONE knows that.Except PETA. They brought in some young-looking dog and wanted it put down because "it shouldn't have to suffer any more". They had to call the police to get custody of the dog and just give it the treatment it needed.

    How stupid can they get?

    Gotta say, after seeing those two photos above, I want to kill as many of them as possible because they are TERRIFYING! Dear god, that's nightmare material along with the ventriloquist dummy and porcelain clowns.

    all of PETA is a sham
    http://www.petakillsanimals.com/index.cfm

    If you think PETA is anything more than a crack-pot political movement, you're an idiot. PETA and its members live in a fantasy world where even looking at an animal sideways is considered an act of cruelty.

    I, like most decent people, are opposed to cruelty to animals. However, I would never join a group like PETA. It cares more about controversy and drawing attention to itself with idiotic stunts like this than dealing with serious acts of animal mistreatment or cruelty.

    PETA's outrage is faux outrage, they are just using Mario because it's current & people are aware of it, as Merus said, essentially professional trolls

    Peta want the freedom of all animals, that means no more pets, ever. That's literally what they're after. Crazy m*****f******.

    Please don't link PETA in your article Brian. If more people go to their site, they will consider it a success.

    oh man, I get back at PETA so bad by slaughtering all the monsters in monhun...

    Sometimes, i kill those innocent deer-like creatures, even when my quest doesn't require it, and just don't even bother to loot the corpse >:)

    Title should be "PETA’s are a bunch of idiots who don't understand anything"

    Wow, look at all of these people talking about PETA on the internet. Based on one single flash game. Success!

      Yeah, you'll notice not much of it is positive. Not all publicity is good publicity. They think talking nonsense and drawing attention to themselves like this is a good thing when in reality I think it makes more people dislike them and their tactics.

        Exactly - just ask James Hardie about whether "all publicity is good publicity".

    Who's Peter?

    I read about cruelty to raccoon dogs a few months before this PETA business and thought it was horrible. From memory it was mainly happening to the tanuki that had spread to China and Russia... not in Japan where Mario originates. To check my facts I tried googling where the cruelty was happening but as soon as I googled 'tanuki' I had to trawl through a million links to different sites reporting the dumb PETA campaign. They've actually made it harder to research the problem they're trying to correct.

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