PETA is on the defensive after
receiving backlash for attacking Super Mario 3D Land for its alleged
portrayal of tanuki (aka raccoon dog) abuse. Earlier this week, the animal rights
organization posted Super Tanooki Skin 2D,
a minigame wherein
players control a skinned tanuki tasked with
chasing down a bloodied Mario and his fancy new Tanooki suit.
Naturally, the gaming community did not take kindly to Mario's new
persona, prompting PETA to issue a statement apologizing for what it
misunderstood, “tongue-in-cheek” promotion, because PETA is known for
having a great sense of humor.
"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 in an email obtained by Kotaku. "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."
Croce insisted PETA does not actually
believe raccoon dogs are depicted poorly in Super Mario 3D Land, but
that it was using the game to highlight abuse against real life
tanukis and, in small part, the dangerous anti-animal trends in
"We know how beloved Mario is - we
are huge Mario fans ourselves! 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," said Palmer.
PETA's pseudo-retraction is better than
nothing, but considering gamers weren't so much upset by the
allegations as they were about the fact PETA piggybacked on a beloved
franchise to get free publicity, it may still be missing the point.
That said, whether you agree with their tactics or not, PETA's campaign
got a lot of people talking.
And maybe... just maybe... a few innocent
tanukis were saved.