It turns out PETA's gore-soaked take on Mario's Tanooki suit power-up was meant to be funny. Har har.
Yesterday, the gaming community was incensed by news of a PETA campaign that implied Mario's recently returned Tanooki suit sends a pro-fur message. A campaign they spearheaded with a delightfully puerile flash parody of the classic Mario games. Now it turns out, we've all been the butt of a rather tasteless joke.
"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," said Shakira Croce, PETA's media coordinator. "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."
"No one really believes that Mario actually kills and skins a raccoon dog for his fur in Super Mario 3D Land," added PETA spokesperson Ashley Palmer. "Our spoof is simply making a serious point: that there is a much darker story behind tanuki skins than Mario lets on. In games like Call of Duty, where characters shoot and kill animals, or in Dog Wars, where players have fun fighting and torturing dogs, it sends a dangerous message that this kind of behavior is acceptable."
"We know how beloved Mario is-we are huge Mario fans ourselves!" Palmer continued. "We were a little surprised that the game was taken so literally by some, but we're thrilled that we're able to bring so much attention to raccoon dogs whose suffering is very real."
The deliberately controversial game seems to have served its purpose. Apparently, it's been played more than 250,000 times in the first 36 hours of its release. Ethical considerations aside, the game was actually rather good. Regardless, whatever you may think of PETA, its skill at invoking outrage to remain relevant is as finely honed as ever.