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Is it fair to dismiss PETA's issues with gaming yet not dismiss feminist issues with gaming?
Posted on November 15, 2011 by Oscar Gonzalez

PETA has once again put their sights on the video game industry with a release of a another spoof Flash game.  They previously targeted Cooking Mama and created a spoof Flash game that had Cooking Mama kill the animals needed for a Thanksgiving dinner.  This time, however, they selected the wrong target for their agenda as the game is all about Mario.  It appears that PETA is suggesting that since Mario uses a Tanooki suit in Super Mario Bros. 3 and the new Super Mario Land 3D, that the Nintendo mascot is now the poster boy for the skinning of tanukis, Japanese raccoon dogs.  As we all know, this is a ridiculous claim from a ridiculous organization filled with hypocricy, I wondered why are we so quick to dismiss PETA when similar claims by feminists are deemed worthy of discussion.

Last month, a film critic named Film Crit Hulk, wrote a lengthy blog post about his thoughts on Batman: Arkham City, most notably regarding sequences featuring Catwoman.  Throughout these scenes, Catwoman is called a bitch multiple times which seemed to be a bit much for Film Crit Hulk, especially without any substance regarding why she would be called such a hateful word.  I, for one, feel that Film Crit Hulk is part of a growing number of writers that are shocked when they are met with realistic dialogue and become surprised that other people don’t act the same was as their close-knit hipster group of friends.  His remarks definitely did not warrant the backlash he received from gamers, but we did do our own bit of criticism in our podcast.  Women, and other feminist guys out there, have come out in praise of Film Crit Hulk’s post and hope this would further bring up a discussion of sexism in gaming. Also this little gem of a video popped up from IGN's "The Next Game Boss" showing how some young developers are brainstorming on how to make a female enemy: 


On a similar not, when Duke Nukem Forever was released, controversy started over the Capture The Babe mode that it was objectifying women and promoted violence against women.  Not just that, some people found the game to be homophobic with its use of the term “fags” as the name of a brand of cigarettes that showed what would be considered a stereoptypical homosexual man on the pack.  Again, the topic was brought forth and people started discussing why this is happening in video games. 

Now, here we are with PETA, one of the most vocal and sometimes fanatical groups for animal rights, being quickly blown off by the gaming public.  Are their claims so far-fetched that the idea of even discussing them would be nonsensical, or is it that we view the portrayals of women, minorities, and homosexuals a far more important discussion than those of animal rights? 

Maybe it’s that the gaming public views PETA as a group that simply doesn’t get video games and uses them as an issue to grandstand off of.  I mean, we are talking about video games, a form of media where violence against animals has been around ever since Mario and Donkey Kong went at it 30 years ago.  Then, you had Mario jumping on turtle shells.  Come to think of it, Mario does seem to be pretty violent against animals.


Still, violence against women in video games has been around for quite some time. I don’t see any women groups go up in arms for the violence players unleashed against that one female enemy that had the whip in Double Dragon.  Before Poison became a transsexual in the SNES version of Final Fight, people were more than happy to punch her in the face in the arcade version.  And who didn’t mind beating the hell out of the Dark Queen in the insufferably hard Battletoads, that is, IF you could get that far. 

Just like how my generation hasn’t gone around killing turtles by jumping on them, we’re also not punching women left and right even though we’ve done it in games before.  As ridiculous it is for PETA to state:

“By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur”

it’s also just as silly to point out that my pressing of a button to hit a woman in a game would make it okay to hit a woman in the real world or to insinuate that those who play games are more predisposed to do so.

Oscar Gonzalez - Editor-in-Chief og (@) | all author's articles

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