A couple months ago, Arthur Chu’s Daily Beast article, “Your Princess Is in Another Castle,” got a lot of attention for pointing out ways in which American pop culture contributes to our country’s rape culture. Inspired by the article, and by the plethora of recent fairy tale retellings, I started thinking about what the NES Super Mario BrothersTM games might have looked like from the princess’s perspective. What I came up with was a letter similar to the ones Mario received after defeating the bosses of the doom ships in Super Mario Bros. 3. I’ve drawn mostly from the original Super Mario Bros.TM and Super Mario Bros. 3, and taken the liberty of assuming that (as is the case in most fairy tales) the king has promised the princess’s hand to whoever returns her safely to his castle.
Though you’ve shown great courage, strength, and perseverance, your princess is — once again — in another castle. After six with decoys, I’d think you’d take a hint.
Both you and my father share the misconception that I am in need of saving. As it turns out, I intend to do the saving, and your meddling is making things more difficult.
I’m sure you are aware of the deplorable way my father treats koopas, goombas, and all other magical creatures. By stomping on goombas, using koopa shells as weapons, and locking magical items in question boxes, he has repressed these citizens of our kingdom for so long that they’ve turned against us. Bowser and his followers mean to overthrow my father and take vengeance on all the humans who have wronged them.
I mean to make a deal with them.
Diplomacy by means of promising women to potential enemies is hardly a new concept. Princesses have been married off like property for years to secure more property, more power, more allies. But when a woman suggests such a thing — when she does anything to suggest she’s capable of intelligent thoughts — she is dismissed. So I made the arrangements behind my father’s back. By marrying Bowser, I’ll unite the humans and koopas, prevent a war, and keep my father’s bloodline on the throne.
I’d like to think you’re so persistent because of some deep-seated patriotism; however, I fear that you only want to win my hand. Again, were the last six worlds, the last six empty castles, not a clear enough message? Bowser has been incredibly kind, trusting me and even ordering his soldiers to defend me, but he’s losing patience. We both are. So I’ll say it again: Bowser is not a monster, and I do not need saving.
Please, go back to plumbing, Mario. Otherwise you’ll trade this kingdom’s future for my hand.
Now it’s your turn. What other pop culture icons contribute to rape culture, and how would they look from a different perspective? Please share in the comments!