Monday, August 27, 2012

Ten Terrible Lessons I Learned From Super Mario Brothers

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianityby Ben Howard

The following are 10 terrible but arguably true life lessons that I've gleaned from the classic video game Super Mario Brothers (and a little from its sequels).

1)      The more money you make, the longer you get to live.

Every time you get 100 coins in Super Mario, you literally get another life. That means that the richer you are, the more times you can fail miserably with the comfort of knowing you have the safety net of reincarnation.

2)       Drugs make life easier.

If you take the red mushroom, you become bigger and mildly invincible. The green mushroom gives you an extra life. If you eat the psychedelic glowing flower, you can SHOOT FIREBALLS OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. I'm convinced there is a direct correlation between this game and the 1960s.

3)      Whenever you meet something different than you, kill it.

In the original Super Mario Brothers there are only two characters you don't kill. Mario and Princess Peach. Everyone else must die in order for you to live happily ever after.
4)      Destroy everything you can; you might make money.

I can't count the number of headaches and near-fractured skulls I've had because I head-butt bricks floating in the sky above me hoping that money falls out of them.
5)      Women always need you to save them.

This is not a world for Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Katniss Everdeen. Unless you mean Super Mario Brothers 2, because Peach is awesome in that one. And Mario Kart. Long live Mario Kart.
6)      When you’re a star, nothing can hurt you. 

This is my favorite one. When, out of a mixture of luck and skill, you become a flashing, magnificent form of yourself, you can literally run over anything, kill anything, and do whatever you want with no repercussions. Except fly. You can't fly. 

7)      You’ll be rewarded for running through life as fast as you can.

Were you aware that there are "points" in Super Mario Brothers? Well, there are, and you get more points if you finish the level as fast as possible. Because speed makes everything better. Who needs to slow down or take a look around?
8)      Nature only exists so you can exploit it.

Or it means to kill you. You can either use nature (mushrooms, flowers, Yoshi, big vines, clouds) or it can kill you (every animal that isn't Yoshi, those spooky flowers coming up out of drainpipes).
9)      Turn your animal best friend into your slave so your life will be easier.

I'm firmly opposed to Yoshi's oppression. He was just a baby, right out of the egg, when you took away his free will. Note that every time you accidentally touch something dangerous he runs away in fear. I'm sorry Yoshi, I love you.
10)    Occasionally, there are shortcuts so you don’t have to deal with life.

If you've played Super Mario enough, you've learned that there are places in the game where you can skip entire levels or take secret passage ways to the end of whatever level you're currently playing. Basically, you learn that whenever there's something difficult in life, there's always a chance you can avoid it by cheating.

I know this is all ridiculous and I'm not actually claiming that Super Mario Brothers is dangerous or destructive for children. At the same time, it doesn't hurt to be reminded that mundane actions do mean something. Or at least, the constant routine of a mundane action might mean something.

For instance, when I drive to work in the morning in MY car by MYSELF that does something to me. It makes me think that I'm in charge and it makes me think that I'm alone. And I do that day after day after day after day. Do you really think it doesn't affect me? Do you really think it doesn't affect you?

This isn't a call to deconstruct every mundane action in your life, every movie you watch, every meal you eat, or every mile you drive, but maybe we do need to think about it a little. Be mindful about what our lives are doing to us.

One of the reasons I'm really passionate about liturgy and one of the reasons actually going to church is vital to my life is that they both reinforce a lifestyle of someone I want to be, someone who I believe I'm made to be. I want to be in community. I want to be someone who praises. I want to be someone who prays, and confesses, and shares in the crucifixion and resurrection. I want to be someone who embraces redemption. I need that voice in my life. I need to be reminded who I want to be.


When he isn't exploring the naked cynicism of beloved video games, Ben spends his time researching the Madden Curse and its rich mythical back story. He's still angry about what it did to Shaun Alexander. You can follow his bizarre pursuits @BenHoward87.

1 comment:

  1. I need to book mark your blog, I enjoyed this especially the end where u talk about who u wanna be. Btw i think the ability to save a video game before fighting a master and then turning it off and restarting if I failed, shaped who i am today! :)