Vacuous Prolixity: The Theology of Mario Brothers

January 27, 2005

Matt Vinson offers a theological reading reading of Super Mario Bros. Sample:

Mario seeks to free the oppressed using fireballs and hammers (that is,
hermeneutics), and is opposed by hordes of fanged, armless monsters
(clearly metaphorical representations of those who suck the life out of
others and cannot do any true work–that is, most of Big Media and

There’s more great stuff there and I can see the validity of his arguments, but I think that the implications extend even further. For example, the eight worlds through which Mario must suffer in the original game to achieve his goal clearly represent the eight-fold path of Buddhism. There is also an element of reincarnation displayed in the fact that, once Mario accomplishes his quest, he is immediately returned to the beginning, where he must face more difficult challenges before he can reach his final reward.

I haven’t yet decided whether the level skipping pipes represent cheap grace or  are instead an example of enlightenment achieved through ignoring the boundaries of common thought…


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