Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition is Not About Feminism
The Internet's response to a good gesture says something else.
by Carli Velocci on 11th Mar, 2013
We video gamer nerds on the Internet have awarded the best dad of the year award to Mike Mika. If you haven't heard his name yet, you may know about his latest project. Titled Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition on Youtube, the mod replaces Mario with Pauline, swapping the genders commonly associated with the game, all due to the fact that Mika's three-year-old daughter wanted to play as a girl.
And despite what you may have heard, there was no feminist agenda behind it. This was not a call to arms against inequality, or damsels in distress similar to last week's first episode of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which may or may not have sparked some anger.
It was just the story of a guy who wanted to do something nice for his daughter. We just read too much into it.
"It made sense. We had just played Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES a few days before, and she became obsessed with playing as Princess Toadstool," Mika said in a feature on Wired. "Oblivious to the kind of attention it started to get, I turned my attention to the reason behind all of this in the first place: My daughter. Just like clockwork, she woke up and sat on my lap asking to play Donkey Kong. Only this time, she could play as Pauline. She was excited! But for all she knew, I just figured out how to get Pauline to work. And that was fine. I wasn’t expecting it to change her life. We played for a bit. And some more. And again later. You know what? She really did seem to enjoy the game more."
Mika promises that he did not mean to start anything political when he shared his progress online, but only wanted to share his work with fellow developers.
However, the response, while mostly positive, has warranted some harsh and inappropriate words from some.
The comments on the Youtube video, for example, have included words of encouragement from fans who believe that Mika was being a good father. This is countered by statements about feminism, rape, and racism of all things, from people outright making inappropriate comments about Mika's daughter, to people bringing up the feminist discussion "for teh lulz."
For example, one person wished her “dead” because “it would do the world a favor and be one less feminist in our future.”
"If feminism is about equality, and not just about women, then what has feminism done for men?" stated user RuckaInc.
"Feminism is about equality, yes there are female asshats that hate all men, but they arent feminists in its original meaning. They want a matriarchy and rule the world," said Markus Wallin.
Although many people are able to see it for what it is.
"I don't think anyone is honestly trying to make this into anything. Unfortunately this can be taken as vaguely feminist and.... this is the internet. Trolls swarm on feminism like flies," said ThePantsCaptain.
While there were many people who accepted it for what it was, and others who defended the video against haters, that there were any argument at all is problematic.
There is little here to actually argue about. Considering the young age of the child, and the motivations of the father alone, people should focus on the parental act instead of political agendas. At three years old, all I wanted to do was play girls in things. I personally had multiple imaginary friends, and all of them were girls.
In fact, Mika's explanation points to a sort of anti-feminism. There is nothing here to point to the fact that Mika was trying to fix traditional gender roles, or make some point about the woman saving the man. Children at three years old do not understand issues such as feminism or gender equality. This was simply an act to bring out his daughter's happiness.
If anything, this whole situation makes a point about our almost automatic instinct to make something big out of nothing. Mika agrees.
"Having kids is incredible. And having a daughter is something special. I get the opportunity to see the world through her eyes. And if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that the world could be just a bit more accommodating. And that if something as innocuous as having Mario be saved by Pauline brings out the crazy, maybe we aren’t as mature in our view of gender roles as we should be."
Maybe instead of thinking so much about gender equality and political issues that send people into frenzies, we should accept it as it is. After all, isn't seeing this as a good gesture instead of an agenda one step closer to gender equality anyway?