This week Nintendo released Mario 3D Land for the struggling 3DS. And while many have given the game great reviews, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has come out swinging against them game, claiming that Mario’s Tanooki suit glorifies the wearing of fur and, more specifically, supports the fur industry in Asia, which they claim skins the animals alive. See, a tanuki is actually a real animal, also known as the Japanese raccoon dog, and its fur is harvested in Japan to make fur coats and other types of clothing. So PETA, an organization known for its rather outlandish stunts, such as hosting a porn site to promote vegetarianism, has created a Flash game to protest Mario by allowing players to play as a skinned tanuki, chasing Mario to get its bloodied fur back from him. And while I’m certainly against animal cruelty, I have to wonder about the protesting of “animal cruelty” in games like Mario, where any relation to actual cruelty is tenuous at best and disingenuous at worst. A tanooki suit may be available in the game, but it takes a special kind of detachment from reality to then assume the game promotes the killing of animals to gain powers they don’t even possess in the first place. Mario may wear a tanooki suit, but I think it’s a stretch to claim that this:
Promotes the skinning, alive, of these:
Regardless, most sources I’ve read have come out against PETA for its somewhat misplaced focus of attention, and I have to agree. But it did raise an interesting question in my mind. What does PETA think of some of the more graphic depictions of violence against animals in video games?
The Battlefield Rat
In Battlefield 3, you find yourself trapped in Iran’s capitol city after a devastating earthquake. While trying to crawl through a ditch to avoid detection, a squeaking rat comes up and starts biting at your fingers. Rats are nasty, and in this case, can even get you noticed and killed from the noise it’s making. So you have the option to do what a soldier would be inclined to do, kill the rat lest you be killed. Now, it’s important to remember that before and after this scene, you are tasked with killing waves and waves of people from all over the world. You can cut their throats, pepper their faces with a shotgun, or, like any other shooter, simply blast them away as you make your way forward. And in one level you even kill innocent policemen in the streets of Paris. But, and don’t be surprised, PETA has ignored the gratuitous people killing and moved on to condemning the game because “Killing virtual animals can have a brutalizing effect on the young male target audience. There have been repeated cases of animal cruelty in Germany, where young people kill animals. Inspiration behind these acts often came from movies and computer games.”
As I’ve emphatically argued before, violence in video games has never been shown to correlate with violence in real life. Furthermore, the dubious claim PETA makes, that the inspiration behind acts of animal abuse came from movies and computer games, is shockingly misleading. Any animal cruelty cases in Germany I was able to find make no mention of any sort of motive at all. Its doubtful that video games inspired any of these acts, but rather they stem from the fact that they’re fucking Germans.
Red Dead Redemption
I have to preface this by saying that I really am totally against all forms of animal cruelty. I eat meat, but I don’t think we should treat food animals poorly, and we especially shouldn’t treat pets or even wild animals badly. Hearing about some kid burning cats or some lady hoarding dogs makes me sick to my stomach. But unlike some people, I realize that video games are not real life, and I think PETA loses tons of credibility for what could otherwise be a good message by attacking video games like those mentioned above. And so when I sought out PETA’s inevitable complaint about Red Dead Redemption, I was left scratching my head. As far as I can tell (and I absolutely combed their website), they didn’t utter a peep about Rockstar’s blockbuster hit Red Dead Redemption. You know, the game where you can shoot and kill countless wild animals, get a trophy for killing one of every type, hunt buffalo to extinction, and then graphically skin the animals for their fur? Yeah, nothing but silence from them.
The game is pretty historically accurate, especially in the sense that people back then lived off the land and gutted the animals they hunted. I see nothing controversial about this depiction in Red Dead, but I am stunned, absolutely stunned, that PETA had nothing to say about this. As an aside, some might claim Red Dead influenced this guy, but my bet is on moonshine: Man field dresses deer in parking lot, arrested.
Lastly, it appears the realm of Skyrim may have its own brand of environmentalists in the form of the citizens of Riverwood. As many people have recently discovered, at the beginning of the game if you kill their chicken, the townspeople flip out. And they don’t just scold you sternly and post porn on the internet to protest you, oh no. They arm themselves to the teeth and try to slaughter you. While its probably just a weird bug, it is nonetheless fun to do if you’re bored. (Bored in Skyrim? Yeah, yeah, I know). So far PETA hasn’t had anything to say about this newest installment of the Elder Scrolls, but there is still plenty of time. With an open world like this, and tons of animals to kill, I’m sure we’ll hear some grumbling sometime soon. In the meantime, why don’t you enjoy watching a man try to kill a mammoth with his bare hands, naked. (Spoiler alert, he loses).