In its perpetual quest to find more ridiculous sources of outrage, PETA has set its sights on an imaginary wearer of virtual fur: Mario, one half of the Super Mario Bros. In the new Super Mario 3D Land, Mario wears the skin of a “Tanooki” to give him special powers. For PETA, this comes too close to the real-life killing of tanuki raccoons, found in Japan.
No actual raccoons were harmed in the making of any Super Mario games, of course (and as CBS points out, where was PETA all of those years that Mario was stomping on turtles?). Nevertheless, PETA writes, “By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur.” The advocacy group has created a parody Mario game that features a skinless tanuki chasing Mario wearing its fur, which is dripping with blood. The site also features a video of a real-life tanuki being bludgeoned to death for its fur.
Mario doesn’t kill tanuki for his magical Tanooki suit — as MSNBC’s In-Game blog points out, he grabs it from magical squares that hover in the air. Joystiq says that the Tanooki suit doesn’t even get its name from the similarly-named animal: “As everyone knows from reading the Nintendo Comics System (specifically the "Tanooki Suits Me" story from the Super Mario Bros. line) the Tanooki suit was hand-crafted by a tailor named Tanooki rather than any animal the material was lifted from.”
By becoming a target of PETA, Mario is in good company: He joins Anna Wintour, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rihanna, actual wearers of fur in real life. It’s a crowd that might make Princess Peach jealous. Angry Birds, watch out: You could be next.