A few weeks ago, I wrote an article imploring the gaming community to maybe stop with all the Birdo jokes. Reddit hated it, which was a pretty good sign it needed to be said. However, the various comments on the article made me feel like I should do a follow-up.
The most common type of nay-saying comment was along the lines of “There’s not that many Birdo jokes out there!” To which I can only tilt my head and go, “Really?” I mean, let’s look at a few things I found from doing a simple search.
Oh, how could we not bring this up again. It’s too wonderful not to mention. For young gamers (like me!) who developed crushes on her/him, this shocking revelation is the gaming equivalent of when the lead singer of Judas Priest came out to a legion homophobic metalheads dressed to the nines in skin tight leather left wondering if their dicks will fall off. Hilarious!
That’s from GamesRadar. GamesRadar, I will point out, has four different articles that I found which mention Birdo, most of them by the same guy who wrote that paragraph. Let me see if I understand the thought process. Fuck a dinosaur, hawt. Fuck a cartoon, hawt. Fuck a cartoon dinosaur, TOTALLY HAWT! Cartoon dinosaur has a dick? Woah, woah, hold up. We have crossed a line!
Or how about this?
However, the thing about Birdo is that, well, she’s a dude. Technically Birdo is transgender, a male that identifies as a female, at least according to the manual for the first game she was ever in.
That’s from an IGN article titled “Fake or Gay: Yoshi and Turok” in which they decide it’s really important to know whether or not Yoshi is gay, and attempt to judge that based on Birdo’s gender. Not enough for you? Maybe that’s too respectful? I grant that the quote itself isn’t particularly insulting, so some people might overlook that the article (and its implications) is the problem. Well, let’s head on over to The Damnlag.
Birdo’s origins are about as disturbing as her very existence. In the Super Mario Bros 2. manual, Birdo is described as a male who believes he is a female, and would rather be called “Birdetta”. Nintendo, quickly realizing the consequences of having to explain such a potentially divisive character, decided to end the controversy with Mario Tennis, in which they pushed the notion of Yoshi and Birdo being lovers. Too bad no one bought it, because every sensible gamer knows Yoshi has more self-respect than that. Despite her weird history, Birdo is also one of the most sexually diffusing characters ever created. The mere sight of her “blowhole” makes my privates shrivel.
Nintendo created this abomination of a character, and now they have to live with it.
Kind of makes my whole point for me, doesn’t it? And what’s most annoying is that it’s not like I’m some kind of Internet research wizard. I have ADD and I do most of my articles while drunk and/or stoned. If I can find these articles, I sure as hell know you guys can. And that’s not mentioning the various videos that exist. Oh, and as a bonus, Stuttering Craig over at ScrewAttack lets us know it’s not Birdo, it’s Trans women.
Which leads nicely into my next point. I wasn’t trying to defend Birdo. Birdo’s a cartoon dinosaur, I don’t think her feelings are going to get hurt. My point was that we have a habit of letting the gender issues surrounding Birdo become the butt of an easy joke. It’s like the World’s Most Interesting Man over here. “I don’t always make a joke about Birdo, but when I do, it’s about her dick.”
How do you think that makes actual trans people feel? To know that a subject with which they must face constant oppression and mockery remains a joke even in a world where we’re expected to believe a plumber from Brooklyn would reach an 8th castle without going “Fuck it, ain’t my job to interfere in a magical kingdom civil war.” We’ve been fighting for years to get rid of using “they’re gay!” as a punchline, most people seem to acknowledge that using “fag” as a pejorative is wrong, this is no different.
Trans people aren’t jokes. They aren’t “traps,” somehow trying to pretend to be the opposite gender in order to trick hetero people. They’re human beings who are suffering, and their suffering deserves to be treated with some amount of respect and dignity. Birdo may be nothing more than a cartoon dinosaur, but if it’s really not such a big deal, then why can’t we find a different joke to tell about her?