“I SLICED INTO MY NAIL BED WITH A RAZOR BLADE BY ACCIDENT WHILE LISTENING TO RANCID AND WASHING OUT YELLOW HAIR DYE, AND DESPITE THIS BEING POSSIBLY THE MOST PUNK ROCK THING ABOUT ME, I STILL SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS, ‘OH FUCK'” by Kate Wilson

Visitants
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Image: “Oak Creek Canyon” by Kim Knoll

of course this is all to say I collected the droplets of blood in a little glass vial with a cork lid and added plant growth hormones to stop it from

growing stagnant

it smelled horrible like all those times my dad made me go on long, awkward walks with him after it rained and the earth was wet and full of life and I tried to stop smelling it but it became

ritual to open the jar

again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until the cork

broke off

and I had to do something with it to keep myself from throwing it against a wall or drinking it so I considered

burying it

But didn’t like the ramifications of littering my own blood-jar and burying things makes me very, very sad because I am terrible at letting things go so instead I dumped the blood in the river and I know that makes me a

                        Really Bad Person

Because now of course I cannot stop thinking about where the stream runs to and the final resting place of that water and how maybe I just

poisoned the entire world

With my own blood but I guess it will be filtered out if our tap water comes from that particular steam and my mom used to tell me about how when her dad died they spread the ashes in the ocean so I guess the fish drink enough death anyway but then humans eat the fish so I guess we also

consume our own rot

And I can’t help but imagine all the PETA pamphlets I’ve been handed after punk shows and then subsequently thrown them away and how terrible of a person I am for still eating

other being’s flesh

But when I tried to become a vegetarian it became so hard for me considering I can only afford to eat at my school’s one cafeteria which just reinforces that I am a

Really Bad Person

And also a quitter but my mom also always told me overcommitting oneself is dangerous and also that overthinking things isn’t going to solve anything and I think maybe she was right since my aunt always called me a worry wart which of course is to say a

Very Anxious Person

But it can be very rewarding to worry for example I always finish my homework on time and I usually try really hard but sometimes I think it would all be easier if I just didn’t try at all because then I probably would not be so concerned about where the fuck

my blood ends up

When I dump it into the river just to get rid of it so I can stop thinking so damn much about how fragile we are and how much we all bleed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate is from Mammoth Lakes, California, and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah where they are working towards a BA in English and an MA in teaching at Westminster College. Kate is a Virgo and lesbian who loves swing sets, their dog, and their girlfriend. Their work has previously been published or is forthcoming by Pressure Gauge Press, Write About Now, Rising Phoenix Press, and Rag Queen Periodical, among others. They are currently a poetry editor for ellipsis… Literature and Art. You can send Kate photos of the ocean on Twitter at @pasta_slut.

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“To Mario Kart from a Marxist” by Kate Wilson

Visitants

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Dear Mario Kart,

You were the love child of Shigeru Miyamoto and his team in Japan in 1992. Miyamoto, who also created several other popular games, works for Nintendo, which is regarded as one of the absolute best gaming companies in the world, and whose net worth is 32.8 billion dollars. Essentially, you were born of greatness.

You feature characters previously seen in various other Nintendo games – Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Bowser, and the like. You give us a fun, child-friendly venue to go-kart race, collect coins, use power ups, beat the clock, and beat our friends.

In total, there are nine versions of you for almost every Nintendo gaming console – the Super NES, the Nintendo 64, the Wii, the Wii U, the Gameboy Advance, the GameCube, the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo 3DS, and, most recently, the Nintendo Switch. Each new game includes new characters, courses, gameplay, and power ups. You are popular, to say the least. You are so popular, that you have sold 90.50 million total copies. The most recent game, Mario Kart 8, sold half a million copies stateside on launch day alone, and 100 million copies worldwide. Mario Kart, you were born of greatness, born into greatness, and you have been great. For 25 years, you have been a best-selling game that has made its way into the hearts, minds, and wallets of users.

But, I see you, Mario Kart, for exactly what you are. You appear to be a fun, childlike video game, but no, your intentions are sinister. You are not what you appear to be on the surface — oh no. You are deeper than that, as we all are. You are, in fact, probably the most important, avant-garde analysis of the American Dream.

To explain: when someone is in last place, no matter how many helpful item boxes they get, they will rarely advance to first. And when someone is in first place, no matter how many blue shells are thrown, rarely will they decline in position to last, or even to the bottom five players. Upward mobility is hard in your game. Advantages for last place are virtually useless, unless the player is in the very back of the pack, and even those advantages will not put them anywhere near winning. And, in first place, the most common power up is coins, which helps keep one ahead. This is clearly your way of critiquing the American dream! You equate last place with being disadvantaged, or a minority. Minorities may get assistance, like affirmative action, extra scholarships, and the like, but this does not always put them on an equal playing field. And those who are ahead may not receive the same power ups, or advantages, but will receive tax breaks and other help that makes them stay at the top. Upward mobility in economics, and in Mario Kart, is difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

You are not forgiving, or merciful, or kind. You are hard, Mario Kart. You use so many of the same tactics our own economy does. For example, if I were to play you, and be one of the first racers across the finish line, I would be like top 20% of wealthy people in the United States who hold 84% of the total wealth. If I were the first place racer, you could consider me to be like the Walton family, who has more wealth than 42% of Americans combined. However, if I were one of the last racers to cross the finish line, like 40% of Americans, my wealth may be only 0.3% of the United States’ total wealth.

You act as the ever present reminder that only one can win; and reinforce the idea that only one SHOULD win – especially since ties are virtually impossible in Mario Kart, as finishing times are calculated to a thousandth of a second. According to a World Values Survey, Americans value winning more than any other industrialized nation on earth, even though enjoyment of a thing decreases as competition increases. Americans often live within a binary – winners and losers – and we feel a deep need to categorize people on their wins and losses. Moreover, so many wealthy people are considered winners, while poorer people are losing at the game of life, which is a different letter all together. Mario Kart, you display this so clearly – winning is good, and losing is for the unfortunate. You remind us why we strive, and that it is possible we might not make it. But strive, we do, with the hopes of first place.

I suppose, in one big race, we are all on the same Rainbow Road, dodging the same green shells, and revving our own car engines with the hope that something, anything, will propel us forward.

 

                        Ever Yours,

                                    Kate Wilson

 

 

 

References for Further Reading

History of Mario Kart’s characters & creator:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130625232227/http://www.nowgamer.com/features/1148204/super_mario_kart_the_complete_history_of_nintendos_kart_racer.html

Nintendo’s Net Worth:

https://www.forbes.com/companies/nintendo/#

Nintendo as the best gaming company in the world:

http://n4g.com/news/2038482/why-nintendo-is-the-best-company-for-gaming-culture

List of Mario Kart games:

https://www.mariowiki.com/Mario_Kart_(series)

List of Nintendo Consoles with Mario Kart games:

http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Mario_games

Popularity of Mario Kart Games:

http://www.vgchartz.com/article/250157/mario-kart-a-sales-history/

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sales:

https://www.polygon.com/2017/5/1/15502234/mario-kart-8-deluxe-sales-record-nintendo-switch

Item boxes & power ups based on current position:

http://www.watchmojo.com/video/title/Mario%20Kart%20Franchise%20Retrospective/

Affirmative Action:

https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/aaps/aaps.htm

Minority Scholarships:

https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-type/minority-scholarships/

Minority opportunities may not create equality:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opinion/sunday/does-affirmative-action-do-what-it-should.html?mcubz=0

Tax breaks for wealthy Americans:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-27/trump-plan-s-business-tax-cut-seen-as-major-boon-for-the-top-1

Financial upward mobility:

http://www.epi.org/publication/usa-lags-peer-countries-mobility/

Economic Disparity:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/

Wealth of the middle class & rich:

http://www.nber.org/papers/w18559

Walton family wealth:

http://changewalmart.org/how-rich-are-the-waltons/

Ties in Mario Kart:

https://www.reddit.com/r/mariokart/comments/353cqs/is_it_possible_to_tie/

Winning & losing:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201208/why-do-we-have-obsession-winning

Winning survey:

http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSOnline.jsp

Happiness and winning:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00222102033004002

 

 

 

 

Kate is from Mammoth Lakes, California, and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah where they are working towards a BA in English and an MA in teaching at Westminster College. Kate is a Virgo and lesbian who loves swing sets, their dog, and their girlfriend. Their work has previously been published or is forthcoming by Pressure Gauge Press, Write About Now, Rising Phoenix Press, and Rag Queen Periodical, among others. They are currently a poetry editor for “ellipsis… Literature and Art”. You can send Kate photos of the ocean on Twitter at @pasta_slut.