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"Innocence Lost: Mario's a Junkie"

(Published December 19, 1997)

Recently, Senator Joseph Lieberman and busybody C. Delores Tucker got together and came up with a list of musical acts that are dangerous to teens. On this list are bands such as Blues Traveler and the Black Crowes, due to their active position in the fight to legalize marijuana.

While I agree that Blues Traveler is probably the most dangerous band ever formed and should-nay, must-be stopped, I wish Lieberman and Tucker would concentrate their efforts on a much more dangerous medium: video games. Nowhere is the counterculture, "drugs are good" message more prevalent than in these interactive harbingers of societal collapse.

Not all video games are de facto pushers, of course. Wholesome family fare like Leisure Suit Larry 9: Dominatrix of the Trade is entirely free of filthy, offensive narcotics promotion and should not be lumped in with the corrupting sleaze we are about to discuss. Please bear that in mind.

By far the greatest offender is Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. series. For more than 10 years now, siblings Mario and Luigi have been captivating our nation's youth, but the pipes these mustachioed plumbers are interested in have nothing to do with clean, all-American human waste; these brothers are resolved to clogging children's minds with visions of crack pipes.

The following are examples of pro-stupefacient propaganda culled from the first three installments of the Super Mario Bros. series:

In the original Super Mario game, both Mario and Luigi spend a great deal of time diving down large sewage conduits, a la the reprehensible scene in Trainspotting in which Ewan McGregor plunges into the filthiest toilet in Scotland to retrieve some opium. Coinkidink? I think not.

The Mario World is populated with evil walking mushrooms (or "shrooms," as they're called in today's subbacultcha), but every now and again, a helpful mushroom will appear and give Mario special powers. This evil mushroom/good mushroom dichotomy is obviously a metaphor for the horror of a "bad trip" weighed against the supposed ecstasy of a good one. "Choose your shrooms carefully," Nintendo seems to be saying.

In Super Mario Bros. 2, magical potions are used to transport the characters to an alternate universe. This is obviously a dramatization of the "altered consciousness" that the hippie folk are always prattling on about, and the magical potions are transparent representations of deadly drug cocktails of the type seen in Face/Off.

Also in Mario 2, much emphasis is placed upon the benefits of food. This is obviously a nod to the infamous "munchies" which follow after smoking a marijuana cigarette.

It is possible for Mario to attain flowers which give him the ability to throw fireballs. The flowers are obviously poppies, which, as everyone knows, equal opium, and fire shooting from one's body is a common hallucination while under the influence of certain illicit drugs.

Don't even get me started on that secret "Smoke-a-Bowl Land" in Super Mario Bros. 3.

As we can see, video games-even outdated ones like the Mario series-are the scourge of our times. If Lieberman and Tucker do not turn their collective attention toward this burgeoning plague soon, I daresay every person under the age of 21 in this nation will become a heroin addict.


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