Video game icon next for ‘cancel culture’

  • Saturday, August 21, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

Ihaven’t weighed in on the whole “cancel culture” business for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it’s so stupid.

First, they came for Aunt Jemima. Then Dr. Seuss, Dumbo, and, worst of all, the beloved but lecherous Pepe Le Pew who, according to the New York attorney general, seems to have inspired the state’s recently-former governor and his active hands.

Sadly, I learned only recently that the Land O’ Lakes lady has become another casualty of toxic “wokeism.” I always found her such a peaceful, calming presence on my butter. She managed to take my mind off the fact that her rich, creamy brew is slowly killing me.

But there’s another figure the culture police have either missed or ignored. Surely, he has been a source of amusement for decades. Have they not seen him and summoned the requisite phony outrage to make him disappear? Will there be no day of reckoning for Super Mario?

If you haven’t seen Mario, of video game fame, or need a reminder of what he looks like, google him and take a peek. Now, tell me if you’ve ever seen an Italian who looks like that. I have not, and I’ve seen a lot of Italians.

Mario has it all – the huge moustache, the overalls and look at the schnozz on him. Just because he’s Italian he has to have a nose like an awning?

According to my exhaustive research, Mario doesn’t have a last name but he does have a twin brother – Luigi. Of course. What I would have given to be in on that meeting at Nintendo. It probably went something like this.

“OK, let’s give him a brother. What do you think? Luigi, Guiseppe? How about Gogootz or Stunod?

“Nah. Too ethnic. He’s an overweight Italian plumber. Let’s go with Luigi.”

And while we’re at it, it’s my duty as an Italian-American to point out that the cartoon chef on my pizza box looks suspiciously like Mario. The only difference is he’s wearing a little chef’s outfit. I’ve been to that pizza place many times, and I’ve never seen anyone in the back who looks remotely like that.

Now to say a few words on behalf of my Irish friends. Somehow, the University of Notre Dame has been able to fly under the “woke” radar but isn’t it time we deal with the nickname and mascot – the “Fighting Irish” and the fist-making leprechaun? The only thing missing from the logo is the backstory. I’m sure the leprechaun had a few too many, went looking for trouble and happened to stagger into the Notre Dame/Vanderbilt game.

“What are…you…looking at?”

Fighting Irish, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians. The Washington Redskins are already dead and buried. To be safe, we should just eliminate all mascots that refer to humans. Let’s just stick with animals and weather events — Lions, Tigers, Thunder, Hurricanes. We can’t offend animals or weather. At least I don’t think we can offend animals. Some look pretty offended already. North Carolina’s Rameses the ram seems perpetually belligerent while it’s clear that Navy’s Bill the Goat would rather be anywhere else.

But rams and goats are small potatoes compared to portly Italian plumbers who toil in virtual servitude for video game conglomerates. I suppose if I were to put together a small cadre of Italians to complain we could take Mario for a ride, so to speak. If cancel culture has taught us anything, it’s that it only takes a small but shrill group of malcontents to undo tradition and come up with a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. You can reach him at

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