Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Friends Mario and Dorothy

So Tuesday marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Super Mario Bros. (in Japan, at least) and Nintendo commemorated the event with some fanfare, including a Wii re-release (in Japan, at least) of the Super Nintendo game that compiled the main eight-bit Mario titles. Nintendo also put out the below video, which is the stuff game nut dreams are made of: a retrospective of the major Mario games — Super Mario Bros. through Super Mario Galaxy 2 — bookended by some retro-fantastic sequences based the sprites and music from the original game.

And so I was prompted to think back on how much fun I’ve had with these games and how big of an impact they had on my early years. The impact continues today, even though there exists a good decade-long gap during which I forgot about them. But I’ve since rediscovered Mario and how happy this Italian stereotype makes me. And now I wonder how much they’ve affected my brain. Do I instinctively fear the collision of turtle shells and pipes? (Maybe not.) Do I think that, no matter how stacked-against-me the odds may be and how much the world seems hostile to my very presence, I can still achieve my goals? (Maybe yes, provided I receive a few chances to try again when I fuck up).

Keeping in mind that I nearly let Super Mario Bros.’s twenty-fifth slip by me, you should understand how surprised I was when I learned that yesterday, September 14, marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Golden Girls (in America, at least). The Awl commemorated this with a posting of Bea Arthur’s interview on the Today show shortly after the series began airing on NBC.

Having grown up in a remote enough location that my every Saturday night had me in the TV room, watching whatever my parents wanted, The Golden Girls played a prominent role in my young life. I watched the show every week. Then, as I got older, I stopped caring, only to rediscover the show’s greatness in the past few years. Come to think of it, I can’t imagine why I liked the show back then. I couldn’t have possibly understood the jokes about sex and menopause. Not being a menopausal woman (biologically, at least) I’m not sure I can fully do so today, but I can appreciate the cast’s amazing comic timing, even in awkward “special moment” episodes like the one where Rose gets molested by her dentist. If Super Mario Bros. could have possibly taught me lessons about determination, Golden Girls taught me that a person could enjoy life even if he or she didn’t fit society’s perception of who should be allowed to be free and happy. (Wrinkly-crinkly wins the race.) Also, the wonderful Sophia Petrillo taught me many swears and insults that I never would have heard on the elementary school playground, including slut, whore, screw you and flat-chested. (She said that last one to Rose’s slut whore daughter. Screw her.) Come to think of it again, I don’t know why my parents thought The Golden Girls constituted appropriate TV for a young boy, but, again, perhaps the comic timing won them over. They also let me watch Mighty Aphrodite when I was twelve, and now I love Woody Allen.

But Woody Allen will have to wait for another post. Today, I’m thinking about the strangeness of these two disparate culture landmarks, Super Mario Bros. and The Golden Girls, coming into the world just a day apart. I can only imagine that if Bea Arthur were alive today and someone were to inform her of this fact, she’d stare blankly for a few beats and then growl “What the hell is an Intendo?”

1 comment:

  1. I miss the original Nintendo. Two buttons and an up/down/left/right. The new games have controllers like a private jet.

    Mario and his Goombas rock.