MINNEAPOLIS, Mn. – As of March 1st, 2019, Target will no longer sell Super Mario Bros. video games and related merchandise, a spokesperson for the Target Corporation announced on Thursday.
The decision to pull the popular Nintendo series comes amid mounting calls for Congress to ban the sale of Super Mario Bros. products on the grounds that the series is designed to ‘unfairly stereotype’ Italian Americans. “Frankly, I think Nintendo should apologize for contributing to anti-Italianism on a global scale,” charged U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx). Mr. Cruz, who is 12.5% Italian, told The Washington Times he finds it extremely hurtful to see his “fellow countrymen depicted in such a negative light.”
At the urging of a handful of prominent interest groups including the Italian American Plumbers Association, Senator Cruz introduced legislation this week that if passed, could effectively ban the manufacture, sale, and purchase of all forms of Super Mario-related content and merchandise throughout the United States and its territories. “Italian Americans have suffered this injustice for far too long,” Mr. Cruz charged during an impassioned speech on the Senate floor.
“Italians are, by far, the most persecuted group in video game history,” Rupert Babbage, a leading video game historian at the University of Cambridge, told Real News Right Now. “When you look at something like the Super Mario franchise, it’s not hard to find evidence of covert racism,” Babbage explained, continuing, “Case in point, we have the mushroom, an integral part of the Mario universe which also happens to be Italy’s national fungi. Further, we have the Mushroom Kingdom; another obvious discriminatory reference to Italy.”
While the issue of racism is a central theme in the movement to ban the Super Mario Bros. franchise, experts say the series has inspired real-world violence on numerous occasions. “At least seven murders have been attributed to the game since its initial release in 1985, including an instance where an Ohio man used a bucket of flaming tennis balls to kill his neighbor,” explained Ronan O’Connor, a retired NYPD homicide detective and self-described anti-Mario advocate. “Barring any sort of effective legislation, the number of Mario-inspired murders in this country could double by 2050,” O’Connor warned.
As to why Nintendo may have decided to single out Italians when it created the Super Mario Bros. remains a mystery. However, Rupert Babbage offered some professional insight into the matter: “Being that Nintendo is a Japanese company, it’s no secret they’ve harbored some resentment towards Italy since World War II,” the video game historian explained. “The reason being is that when Italy broke ties with the Axis Powers and declared war on Germany in 1943 – that move inadvertently led to the nuclear bombing of Japan two years later.”