I’ll admit that, once upon a time, I watched Glee. I didn’t watch it for long. I really enjoyed the music, but the stories were crap. I know that a lot of people will disagree with that, but it’s just my opinion. Anyway, there was this one episode where a character had a throw away line which mentioned his argument that Super Mario Bros. changed Western Civilization. It got me thinking, has Super Mario Bros. changed the face of Western culture?
I think we’ll just focus on the original Super Mario installment. It’s the one you got with your very first Nintendo Entertainment System. There were crappy graphics and a simple story. You play as Mario (or Luigi if you happened to be player 2), a mustached plumber who makes his way across eight incredibly similar worlds trying to save Princess Toadstool. Every time you beat the bad guy at the end of each castle, you’re basically told you’ve been barking up the wrong tree.
So you repeat your actions over and over again, trying to succeed in saving a princess who just isn’t there. Now, yes, at the end, you do save the princess. But then you’re told to push a button, at which point you’ll go back to World 1-1, where there’s a greater challenge. Really, some of the enemies just change and move a little faster. Big challenge.
The point is, this game seems to be the very definition of insanity. You’re performing the same tasks again and again, hoping for a different result: finding the princess, when really you just keep finding an anthropomorphic mushroom.
So maybe that is a reflection of modern culture. The majority of us go about our lives, day after day, doing the same thing over and over again. And what do we achieve at the end of the day? Do we get to beat the bad guy? Do we get to save the princess? Or do we come across a sign saying “the princess is in another castle?”
There are days when we perform our familiar actions and we’re met with the same result when all is said and done, but we keep on with it. Because we keep hoping that those other days will come about that show us that we finally reached the final stage and we get a different outcome. Sure, we push a button and we’re taken right back to the beginning where we face different challenges, but we keep pushing forward.
Super Mario may not have changed Western Civilization, but it may just be a good picture of what society looks like.