Besides teaching us many lessons (such as: eat any strange mushrooms you come across, turtles aren’t to be trusted, funny how it seems natural to give three examples!) the Super Mario games also gave us two stereotypical characters who used their plumbing wits to fight through all sorts of challenges life threw at them. These two characters can be served up as examples of the ‘two types of cool’, a label that certainly wouldn’t be considered any kind of cool.
Mario – The Mainstream Type of Cool
Mario is the boss, he runs shit; he would get first pick of which toilet to clean. Actually I don’t know about that; but Mario is the main character, the one who comes to mind when you think about these games. That is what makes him cool, he’s the guy, good at what he does (although jumping on turtles doesn’t seem that hard), and is well known for it. It’s his handsome, chubby, ‘stached face on the cover of the game.
Real life examples of this type of cool would be star athletes like Lebron James who take on a larger than life persona, the strong willed leaders like Barack Obama, the movie stars who are best at what they do and look amazing doing it, while embracing the Hollywood life, and so on.
Luigi – The Underground Type of Cool
Luigi is cool because he’s not Mario, he’s the uncommon – off the beaten path – character. I imagine Luigi would be a bit odd, living in a Mario’s shadow all of these years would have seen to that. (They say that when groupies go backstage the bassists and drummers get second pick, I can imagine Luigi might have had to put up with that as well.) What makes picking Luigi in a game of Super Mario cool is that you’re going away from the norm, going with the lesser known character who can also stomp on turtles.
Real life examples of the Luigi type of cool would be the lesser known actor who takes roles playing unusual characters, the quiet musician that doesn’t want fame but contributes immense amounts of creativity to a band, like Izzy Stradlin; the eccentric yet wildly genius professor who wears different coloured socks, and so on.
Mario is the Jay Leno, Paul McCartney and Superman to Luigi’s Conan O’Brian, George Harrison and Batman. It’s doing a well known thing better than anyone else versus doing your own thing and not having any peers to compare yourself to. It’s a brand new Armani suit versus ripped jeans and a plaid shirt. Neither one is better, they’re just different, two sides of a coin, mutually exclusive; you can’t be both.
I exemplify both types of cool. What about you?
By the by (Now what does THAT mean? I should write something about that.) I realized about half-way through that I didn’t exactly know what I was trying to say. But hopefully I tricked you into getting what I meant to mean.