Nintendo have declared 2013 to be the year of Luigi – “Super” Mario’s taller, greener brother. What better time then to take a critical gaze at this most ignored of computer game characters. Often second best to his more heroic brother and hounded by rumours about his sexuality, it would appear there is plenty of material for The Empty Page radical publishers to get their academic incisors into. Yet, that would be an easy option, of far more interest to us is Luigi’s supposedly evil doppelgänger Waluigi. Whilst beloved of weird Twitter gag makers Waluigi has remained in the shadows for too long, now some of our top theorists are devoting their minds to the study of this under-appreciated anti-hero.
I, We, Waluigi: a Post-Modern analysis of Waluigi by Franck Ribery
Waluigi is the ultimate example of the individual shaped by the signifier. Waluigi is a man seen only in mirror images; lost in a hall of mirrors he is a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. You start with Mario – the wholesome all Italian plumbing superman, you reflect him to create Luigi – the same thing but slightly less. You invert Mario to create Wario – Mario turned septic and libertarian – then you reflect the inversion in the reflection: you create a being who can only exist in reference to others. Waluigi is the true nowhere man, without the other characters he reflects, inverts and parodies he has no reason to exist. Waluigi’s identity only comes from what and who he isn’t – without a wider frame of reference he is nothing. He is not his own man. In a world where our identities are shaped by our warped relationships to brands and commerce we are all Waluigi.
Spoiling the Mario Party: a Queer Theory analysis of Waluigi by Jenny Powell
Mario has Princess Peach and is seen to be the embodiment of heterosexual happiness but rumour and counter rumour surround his brother Luigi. Whilst sometimes he is paired with Princess Daisy there are enough hints and innuendoes dropped throughout the Nintendo universe that suggest Luigi is not quite cut from the same cloth as his brother. If we take it that yes, Luigi is a closeted homosexual – and this is by no means a controversial reading – then he is clearly a non-threatening cuddly and slightly cowardly homosexual stereotype. What then of Waluigi – his warped reflection? Waluigi is the negative stereotype: the cowardice curdles to malice and spite, the cuddly curves become jutting sharp edges – he is aggression without machismo. Whilst Bowser and Wario have simple motivations – lust for the Princess, lust for money – Waluigi poses more difficult questions, he seems to reject the patriarchal and capitalist urges of his villainous contemporaries. He wants something else, on one hand he is an avatar for fear of the homosexual other, on the other he is the truly liberated individual, he rejects the façade of the Mushroom Kingdom: he wants no part of the (Mario) party.
The Funky Kong of the False Conscious a Marxist analysis of Waluigi by Lucy Pinder
Waluigi is the logical end point of capitalism. His existence is the triumph of capital over creativity; he has no reason to exist beyond adding a simulacrum of novelty to a declining commodity. He is the committee designed end point of a franchise alienated from the ideas of play. To choose to play as Waluigi is the ultimate act of false consciousness, you may tell yourself you can engineer some kind of enjoyment when in reality this cynically designed character is playing you. Where one could see some joy in the running, jumping, shell throwing antics of the Super Mario Bros Waluigi brings nothing new to the table; he is simply an invitation to buy the latest iteration of Mario Tennis. Like the New Super Mario Bros games and the futile non-existence of Funky Kong Waluigi is Nintendo cynically selling back to you something you’ve already bought and demanding that you enjoy it.
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