Super Mario,the game franchise that all of us who call ourselves gamers got to play at least one of its games. With its innocent art style,cute visuals and light music,Mario games have become the casual and dominating game for all ages. But as simple and crazy the world of Mario games may seem,could there be deeper things in them,like symbols and parallels ? And what if we saw Mario's world seriously,does it make any sense ? There have been many details I've thought about Super Mario games recently,and I decided to write them down,and analyze various topics related to the so simplistic, and at the same time crazy world of Super Mario. Note that this includes theorizing and speculation. Let's start it then.
Racial conflictThe events of the series take place in the Mushroom Kingdom,a kingdom that as the name implies belongs to mushrooms. The citizens of the kingdom are literally sentient mushrooms that can move, think,speak and wear clothes.In this kingdom though war emerges,and the player gets to control Mario,a human who somehow got himself in this world and is allied with the white skinned mushroom people and their Princess who is also a human.While the white mushroom people known as Toads are presented as the good ones to the player,the game also features another race of mushrooms,Goombas who are dark/brown skinned mushroom people. The brown skinned mushroom people are presented in the game as evil,and not wearing clothes,unlike the white skinned race of the mushroom people that inhabit the kingdom, or the few humans on it. Considering that both mushroom races are sentient,as the games clarify,what Super Mario games present to us the players,is a racial conflict between white skinned and brown skinned people. In this game all characters that happen to be a race are good or evil depending on their race. Humans and white skinned mushrooms are good,while on the other hand the dark skinned mushroom people of the kingdom who are presented being evil have allied with King Bowser of the Koopa.In conclusion what we experience in each Super Mario game,is a war of races against other races.
CannibalismAnother concept that is often displayed in Super Mario games is cannibalism. The mushroom people of this kingdom for some reason feed Mario what seems to be their babies. A mushroom character named Toad,hands over young mushrooms to Mario for the purpose of eating them. The mushroom powerups that Mario finds in his travels are not portrayed as objects. They have eyes,as the mushroom people of the kingdom have. Since they have eyes,it also means that they have heads,and therefore brains,which signifies that they are sentient beings. And these sentient beings are provided as food to Mario,often by other mushrooms,who from their looks seem adult. The image of people feeding their babies to Mario stroke me very hard recently.If for one moment you think of taking a Mario game seriously,the conclusions you will come up with are going to really make you see things a different way.
Mario is the invader,not BowserIn most Mario games we have the Kingdom of Princess Peach already established,and it seems that it's King Bowser who opens the hostilities,by kidnapping the Princess. But if you better think about it,King Bowser isn't the one who is invading here... It is the humans.
Humans aren't native people of the Mushroom Kingdom. The only humans actually that exist in this world is Mario,Luigi and Princess Peach. We never get to know how Peach became the Princess of her kingdom. Why isn't a toad the ruler of this kingdom ? After all it's the Mushroom Kingdom. While there is ambiguity on how Peach became the Princess,and what's her origin,there is no ambiguity that she clearly isn't a native of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Judging that the other humans,Mario and Luigi are friends of the Princess,and are also treated by the Toads as something more than a celebrity,we are lead to assume that the Toads worship humans as something special. It's like how the Aztecs treated the Spanish team of Columbus when they met them,thinking that their gods of prophecy had arrived. Humans are served by Toads,and Toads do this with their will. Toads gave Peach a castle,and made her their ruler and now follow her lead. There is however a ruler that predated Princess Peach,and this is the native King Bowser.King Bowser sees that some foreigners invaded his native land, and are worshiped and offered authority over the Kingdom,which from what we get happens without his consent. For Bowser the Mario brothers and Peach are aliens who invaded his world and threaten his authority,as they are falsely worshiped by a race of his kingdom,the Toads.
What essentially Bowser does is putting under arrest the usurper Princess,so she doesn't rule anymore,an action to restore his full authority and kingship over the kingdom. Mario and Luigi act as anarchists who go against the legitimate ruler of the land,to free Peach so she can continue to rule over a kingdom that obviously is not hers. In New Super Mario Bros Wii,we see that when a Mario reaches a castle on the end of each level,he lowers the flag which has Bowser's face on it,a flag that symbolize Bowser's kingship on the area. It is perhaps the most obvious moment where the fact that it is Mario invading Bowser's world and not the other way around is shown.
Princess Peach isn't getting kidnapped,she is being put in jail.Having the facts that Bowser is the native King of the world,and that Peach is human which means she isn't from this world,we get the conclusion that Princess Peach is the odd one out,who is usurping the throne. Authority usurpation is a serious crime. King Bowser takes under arrest Princess Peach and puts her in his dungeon,as it is usual for castle's dungeons to act as prisons.
Peach is being punished for her crime of usurping the throne. Mario is an anarchist that invades the castle of the legitimate ruler,to free a prisoner so she can continue her crime,because under her authority he received considerable superior status among the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Bowser could have taken down Mario,but he doesn't do what is necessary because it would hurt his people.Mario's greatest advantage in his invasion against Bowser,is the powerups that he finds and collects from all over the place. In this world items that grand their users powers and abilities can be founded around the country,unprotected. If Bowser wanted,he could order his minions to collect all power ups and keep them on a safe area before kidnapping the Princess. That would leave Mario powerless,vulnerable to Bowser's troops. Yet he doesn't do it. If he did,he would deprive the citizens of his kingdom from goods and would affect very badly the country's economy. What we are seeing here is a King who prefers to risk a defeat and humiliation from an enemy,than damage the economy and deprive his citizens from necessary goods. This is a noble and romantic standpoint. If not anything else,it makes Bowser seem a more sensible and heroic person from what we had thought. On the other hand Mario is an egoist consumer that captures everything he finds on his way without leaving anything behind. Mushrooms,Fireflowers,Coins... He doesn't care if other people like Toads will have the necessary goods available if they need them.
Some times things,and some of those things,games,are seemed as pretty simple to be taken seriously. But even on the simplest things if we take a serious look on them,we might discover things we wouldn't expect,things that might be meaning that there is something deeper than what we believe there is.One of these seemingly simple things is the Super Mario franchise,and its world. I'm sure if we taken seriously and analyzed each game's world we would come up with many interesting subjects to think about and discuss...
Haha, I always did like Bowser better. Maybe Mario and his friends aren't intruders exactly but rather mercenaries, brought in by the mushroom people to combat Bowser and his minions. It's a class struggle between the mushroom people vs the goombas who have seized control with the help of Bowser and the koopas (a neighboring clan?). I'm not sure where yoshi fits into all thus however.