About five years ago (“five" being an arbitrary number I‘m throwing out there since I have absolutely no concept of time and, as such, the point in time of which I speak could have realistically been anytime from “before I was born” up until “yesterday“), I attended a college lecture by some guy who said some stuff about how Italians are the most downtrodden victims of stereotyping in modern America. During his spiel about how he, as an Italian-American, did not want to be associated with the romanticized, noble, anti-heroic criminals known as “mobsters”, I realized that my professor would give me credit just for showing up and that I could leave at any moment. And so I pulled my half-asleep carcass from the chair and left.
But was he right--not just concerning Italian-Americans, but other ethnicities and social groups as well? Does offensive stereotyping, anachronistic as it may seem, still happen in modern America? And how does this stereotyping relate to video games? Real-life lawyer Jack Thompson seems to be more than a little irked by video games in general, so is there something to this “offensive stereotype” thing? To examine this, I’ve taken a look at five (there’s that arbitrary number again) classic video games, picked intentionally at random, and have found undeniable and shocking proof that, yes, offensive stereotypes still exist--and have since at least 1982 AD (sadly, Google didn't exist before 1982, so I couldn't find any instances prior to that year). Observe, but be warned: these are not for the faint of heart.
Super Mario Bros.: Perhaps the most vile instance of an Italian-American stereotype I’ve ever had the displeasure of crossing, Super Mario Bros. portrays Italian-Americans as honest, hard-working, blue-collar individuals who will put their own lives and sanity at risk by traveling to alien dimensions and facing hordes of monsters led by malicious fire-breathing reptiles in order to save a woman in distress or bring peace, prosperity, and happiness to the known world. Absolutely scandalous!
Even ninjas find the strangest women in bars.
Ninja Gaiden: What ignorant sod created this game? I mean, am I truly to believe that the Japanese are noble, family-oriented people who place honor and justice before anything else? Am I supposed to accept at face-value that they would selflessly travel the world and put their lives on the line in order to stop a dastardly demon cult from bringing forth a vengeful, destructive eldritch god that would only lay waste to our planet? Nice try, Harry S. Truman, but I’m not buying into your racist agenda.
"Beep boop beep", indeed.
Mega Man: If this game is to be believed, all super fighting robots are heroic doers of good who fight the evil creations of malevolent scientists bent on world domination. I often wonder what the robots employed at CERN would think (CERN being that Swedish science place in Switzerland which has tried to blow up the world no less than three times now). If you asked them, I’m sure they’d reply with something witty like “please insert girder” or “beep boop beep”, but behind every flashing light and whimsical, silly “beep“, their tin robotic hearts would break at the pain caused by such an offensive portrayal.
I'm stereotyping those cherries as looking 100%
delicious. Mmm, mm!
Pac-Man: I once got punched in the face by a drunken, disgruntled Pac-Man because I made a snide comment about how all Pac-Men are good for is “running around fluorescent mazes whilst being chased by ghosts and gobbling balls”. I learned the hard way that Pac-Men find this stereotype to be highly offensive and completely false. The “wakka wakka” sound they’re said to make while they walk, though? Totally true.