The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ruffled a few feathers earlier this week when the organization seemingly went on a much delayed rampage against Nintendo and its portrayal of Mario as a guy who will "use any means necessary to defeat his enemy," even if it means skinning raccoon dogs. The complaint against 'Tanooki Mario' was silly, to say the least, and the only thing gamers found despicable was PETA's campaign, which included a 2D platform game that has the player chasing down a blood dripping version of Tanooki Mario. Following the backlash, PETA now claims it was all just a gag.
"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," a PETA spokesperson told PCMag in an email. "We wish real-life tanukis could fly or swat enemies away with their tails and escape those who profit from their skins. You can help them by never buying real fur."
Nintendo didn't take it as a joke when PETA wrote on a website that "by wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur." The game maker was quick to release a statement defending Mario's many animal forms as "lighthearted and whimsical transformations," adding that "the different forms Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."
PETA may have been goofing all along, but it's easy to see why most people thought the organization was serious. These are, after all, the same folks who are pissed at EA for allowing Battlefield 3 gamers to stab rats with combat knives, and who outlined plans to raise awareness for animal rights through a porn website. In other words, PETA has been known to be 'out there' from time to time.