A common complaint from pundits is that the images we're given in popular culture are racist. I am not about to address this concern. But. After playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! during a recent vacation, I can tell you the people who made this game are fucking racists.
Think about it: The character you control is a white kid from the Bronx, which is something that doesn't exist. The second you start playing, you're punched in the face by a cavalcade of racial and ethnic stereotypes. And who is supporting Little Mac in committing hate crimes in the ring? "Doc", a strung out, balding, crack addicted black man that shows no enthusiasm for helping Little Mac win.
"Doc" is supposed to be your corner man, but all he can think about is scoring his next fix and telling you that if you want help, you should contact the Nintendo Fun Club.
But Doc, in the grand scheme of things, is a bit player.
Glass Joe is a weak Frenchmen that begs for surrender and is easily defeated. I'm also pretty sure he's gay.
Von Kaiser has a thick German mustache and threatens to conquer you in the only way a German knows how: With violence.
Piston Honda is named after a poorly made Japanese car and is obsessed with cameras.
Don Flamenco has a rose in his mouth and dances to a cheap knock off of "La Cu Ca Racha". And while it may be funny to get your ass beat to the tune of "La Cu Ca Racha", I don't think the people in Spain are laughing.
Then there's King Hippo, who makes fun of the obese and may even offend people from Hippo Island. A place that doesn't exist.
Great Tiger teaches impressionable youths that Sikh Indians can vanish and punch you in the face at will, which should make everyone think twice about robbing Great Tiger's convenience store.
Bald Bull talks like a mental patient and looks like one too.
Soda Popinsky, originally known as Vodka Drunkenski, was changed to the color pink because Nintendo Of America used to have prohibition on alcohol references in their games.
And while I understand Nintendo made an effort to remove the often rumored "I'm going to drink and drive all over you" comment Popinsky said between rounds, I'm surprised they didn't just correct the racism.
The Macho Man is a harsh take on aging steroid pushers from Hollywood, and the less said about Mr. Sandman, the better.
Which brings me to Mike Tyson. Tyson was only removed from the game after he raped someone. After he raped someone!
When Nintendo removed Tyson, you would think they would have fixed these problems. But they didn't! They said, "Screw you America! We're going to teach little white boys and girls to beat up people who are different from them. We're also going to show them that wearing a pink jump suit and jogging on Manhattan's West Side Highway is a good idea".
One could argue that Nintendo learned from their mistakes and corrected them in Super Punch Out, or the new Wii version, but you know what? The Klan toned themselves down too, and that doesn't make them ok either. Fuck the Klan. And fuck the people who made this excellent but very racist game.
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