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Zombie Super Mario and Cheeseburgers

January 7, 2013

Kotaku: “What If Mario Is In Fact… A Zombie?” by Alex Kidman

Mario Monti, the technocrat Prime Minister of Italy? Recall Melchiorre’s recent article in Forbes about Italian politics with reference to both zombies and super mario as regards to Monti’s government. ZombieLaw has now mentioned this article three times because first it was in my wrap-up of all the new year’s zombie news I couldn’t keep up – and then the next day in comparison to another Forbes article about Japan — actually both articles are about America but it’s whether we are becoming Italy or Japan (recall WW2 zombies – and incidentally, both those ZombieLaw posts also mentioned concurrent news about zombie alcohol) (query: are you drunk?).

No, Kidman’s article is (at least superficially) actually about the Nintendo video game character and compares Super Mario to a zombie. The reasons include: his frequent resurrection, relentlessness, repetitive speech, and that he can be destroyed by fire and crushing even with an invincibility star. Also, his bizarre world which some suspect is drug-induced (mushrooms) may alternatively be the effects of his brain rotting (it would be great to get an opinion about this from a zombie neuroscientist like Schlozman or Voytek) The connection between drug-users (medicinal and recreational) is strong but how might Mario’s brain compare to Timothy Leary’s. Or does the old plumber more resemble someone with a condition like Alzheimer’s or speech aphasia.

Kidman also considers a counter-narrative where Bowser and Princess are trying to live in peace but Mario keeps chasing them. This is a really important point about seeing the world from the perspective of the Other.

Unmentioned in the article is the way mushrooms grow through death and decay. Or the connection of Super Mario to a communist proletariat working class hero fighting against the bourgeois monster in the castle – along with a feminist struggle to free the princess from that castle (echoing Kidman’s counter-narrative: does she want to be free?) And of course, he’s a computer program user controlled avatar so he is literally zombie slave to the user.

stalin mario

In other pipe-dwelling, see Florida Today: “Cram Session: School, Palm Bay use zombies to help feed kids’ brains” by George White:

Palm Bay officials recently used zombies to explain data analysis systems to high schoolers. Palm Bay uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in all city departments.
“It allows you to visualize data so that you can see patterns and trends,’’ said Crystal Phillips-Mustain, division manager for Palm Bay’s Geographic Information Systems.
Examples of GIS include: tracking water and sewer lines (location, size, installion date, expected life) and tracking traffic patterns to determine emergency response times.
“It’s more than a radius, it’s how far can (firefighters) get, what is it connected to, what is the speed on that roadway?
read the rest at Florida Today

On the one hand I love this kind of stuff (See for example ZombieBasedLearning and Zombie Epidemiology because ‘Hey whatever motivates the students is good’, on the other hand, I still worry about the epistemological effects of sub-human class categories. This is the kind of mentality that shoots people fleeing a hurricane rather then letting them cross the bridge to your town.

Now back to Mario, crawling through those overgrown pipes, stomping goombas, grabbing a few coins here and there – sounds like the technocrats. Bowser is living the dream (with his nice castle and pretty wife) but the technocrat zombie threatens that. Technocrats see every problem as solvable. Each level of the game can be beaten, repetition of patterns is key and users play each level multiple times to learn the patterns. This idea of repetition and pattern seeking is essential to science and Nintendo computer games may have aided in developing the paradigm.

Computers are collecting more and more data on individuals and finding ever new patterns in human behavior. We each only live once (or so it seems) but we are being amalgamated into data sets that suggest the effect of ever smaller life choices and that tracking can help- See Seattle Times: “Tough New Year’s resolution? Zombies and data can help” by Mónica Guzmán. This has long been the narrative of public health advocates noting smokers have a higher chance of X or if you eat McDonald’s Y – See National Post: “Zombie cheeseburger? McDonald’s patty, bun, cheese unchanged after one year sitting on kitchen counter” by Doug Schmidt


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