PBS launched their latest online venture, the PBS Idea Channel, on Wednesday. Hosted by Mike Rugnetta, the channel attempts to answer all those crazy questions you get in your head. And believe it or not, the debut question was “Is Super Mario Bros. a piece of surrealist artwork?”
Rugnetta makes the point that when viewed from outside the influence of the series, a flower that lets you spit fire after you eat it, giant walking mushrooms, and a dinosaur that lays eggs is just INSANE! Except, it’s not…
“Spitting” fire was just a euphemism we kids came up with in the 80s. The canon depiction of a Fire Flower has always shown Mario throwing fireballs after touching it. Weird sure, but not as weird as Rugnetta wants to claim. Goombas (and other made up species that the host cites like the Hammer Bros. and Latiku) can be traced back to the zaniness found in Looney Tunes cartoons and Dr. Seuss books. I mean, is a Goomba all that different from The Lorax? As for Yoshi and his egg-laying, well, dinosaurs do lay eggs! It was even a major plot point in Jurassic Park.
Rugnetta does make one good point, and that is that surrealism is everywhere nowadays. Mario is a bit surreal, but most of the weirdness in the Mushroom Kingdom makes perfect sense… except for Birdo.