Thursday, 1 December 2011

Don't do the Mario, please...

Having been born in 1965, my generation grew up to be at the cusp of that whole thing with computers, information technology, and so on. Computer science wasn't an option at my high school, although it became so by the time I attended sixth form college; but as it worked out, I went in one direction, whilst my friends went in another, specifically towards the room with the computers with their formidable 2KB of processing power programmed by cassette tapes of noise that would prove popular with amateur Throbbing Gristle enthusiasts. The first game I played was called, I believe, Pong, which the internet describes as a tennis sports game featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. It was this game which provided the big grand slam finale of BBC TV's Crackerjack every Friday towards the end of the 1970s, with two lucky tousle haired raggamuffins batting a black square slowly back and forth across a screen in order to win a pencil. I could never really see the point.

Games developed, with programmers attempting to give their creations personality in, I suppose, an effort to help persons such as myself see the point. And so we come to the Mario Brothers. I never played the game, or indeed any game (this being due to my remaining unable to see the point), but so far as I can tell, Mario Brothers had some vague sort of narrative, something about a Princess, sentient mushrooms, reptile people, and Italian-American plumbing contractors. If it was all in aid of jazzing up various bleeping things chasing each other around a screen, fair enough I guess, but sadly it went some way further. There were animated cartoons based on the game, a TV show, even a film with Bob Hoskins. Whilst I may have been something of a moron back in those days, even then I knew it just didn't add up. Mario Brothers was a poor title for any form of narrative, and Super Mario Brothers made even less sense whilst being as aesthetically pleasing as Doctor Who retitled Really Good Time Travel Man; furthermore, forcing this shit into the shape of a story was just ridiculous, like making a film out of Chess, Snakes & Ladders, or Monopoly with Kate Winslett playing the little scottie dog.

None of which would really trouble me were it not for stepfatherhood bringing me into close and alarming proximity to something called the Super Mario Brothers Super Show which may possibly be the most headachey bit of children's TV I think I've ever had the misfortune to encounter; which is why I've chosen to moan about it here.

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show was made in 1989 or thereabouts, or at least I suspect that would turn out to be the case if I could be bothered to look it up. It features two actors, one skinny, one more generously built, magically transformed into the brothers of the title by virtue of unconvincing moustaches and-a talking-a like-a this-a, because-a if-a television-a has-a taught-a us-a anything-a, it-a is-a that-a Italian-a-Americans-a speak-a that-a way-a. I'm not sure quite what these actors get up to in their allotted twenty or so minutes of show, but some of it almost certainly involves terrible quality CSO effects, and an animated segment involving a Princess, sentient mushrooms, reptile people, and Italian-American plumbing contractors. I've seen it once, but appear to have blocked the memory. However, the feature which has incurred wrath sufficient for my actually bothering to sit down and write this, is the closing credits, and specifically the song, Do the Mario.

Doing the Mario seemingly entails swinging ones arms from side to side which, as one YouTube subscriber notes, is actually very similar to walking. Worse still, it purports to be rap, but the sort of rap which existed in the wake of Grandmaster Flash splitting from the Furious Five and prior to Eazy-E getting disappointing exam results, in other words rap of the wilderness years which, aside from Public Enemy and Whodini, was for the most part at least as pointless as Pong. Presumably someone somewhere thought this was what the kids wanted. And maybe it was.

Maybe I'm too old to understand, but I don't think so. Saying that something is really intended for children does not excuse one from producing a steaming great pile of multicoloured shite, because shite is shite no matter how many ringtones one may be able to download from it. Winnie the Pooh, Fungus the Bogeyman, and Asterix the Gaul were all produced with children in mind, and it is not difficult to see why these represent quality and craftsmanship.

That is all.


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