From Gary Cooper’s strong silent type to David Beckham’s smokin’ metrosexual, from the hulking granite presence of Martin Johnson to the priapic anarchism of Russell Brand, from the urbane humanism of Stephen Fry to Jay-Z’s ghetto plutocrat, the modern man is bombarded with a bewildering array of role models and images of what represents the ideal, real man.
Yet one mighty male stands alone as the perfect embodiment of what a man should be. The ultimate blend of physical courage, smarts, and never-say-die defiance, he has a sense of fun and a moustache a girl could lose herself in. He is, of course, Mario, the legend of over 200 Nintendo games since 1981 and soon to be the star of the newest instalment in the multi-million-selling franchise, Super Mario 3D World.
A real man has a real job
Part of the crisis of masculinity for the modern male results from how far we are away from actual honest toil: proper work where you put your back into it, see the results, and clock off at a reasonable hour, hopefully with some satisfaction. As opposed to poncing around in meetings and never properly switching off because you’re pecking away at your smartphone all evening.
Mario is a plumber, a no-nonsense job that offers excellent opportunities for getting your hands dirty, fiddling your VAT, drinking tea, and ferreting through the customer’s knicker drawer when they go out for the day: real manly work.
A real man looks after his mates
Like most blokes, Mario’s friends are a ragtag bunch, not without their talents, but by and large pretty hopeless. However, he’s known them for 30 years and he’s stuck with them now. A real man knows that loyalty is the number one quality that defines true friendship. Mario will stand by his mates no matter what they do or what anyone else thinks. Even if one of his closest friends is a mushroom.
To a real man, no woman is out of his league
Yes, Mario is a blue collar guy, a bit out of shape and without a fortune, prospects, good looks or a fancy family name. But that has never stopped him pursuing his dream woman, Princess Peach, through hell and high water. Mario knew that he was good enough, no matter what the rest of society said, and in the end the lad has pulled an absolute cracker, Clive.
A real man has a moustache – and not just for one month of the year
Mario may be only a couple of inches high (when not on drugs) but he oozes masculinity, largely as a result of his magnificent, luxuriant moustache. The Mario tash says one thing: do not mess with me, because – like Trainspotting’s Begbie – clearly only a nutcase would deliberately go around with this on his face. Striking a blow for real moustaches, we are eagerly awaiting a new Mario game where he attacks hipsters and Movember zane-sters by jumping on their heads or throwing artisanal junk food at them.
A real man spends time with his family
Wise advice from another great Italian, Don Corleone, and well heeded by Mario, who often brings his inferior brother Luigi along for the ride. Not because he wants to hang about with this Fredo-ish sidekick, but because he is family, he is his bruvvaah. Much like Grant and Phil Mitchell. Not that Luigi and Mario are as ridiculous as them, obviously.
A real man dresses to impress and attract
Mario doesn’t need those weirdo “how to attract women with magic tricks and unkind personal remarks” books to know how to catch the eye of the ladies. Smooth Mario is never seen without an eye-catching red top (the colour of power, danger and hyperactive children who have been playing video games for 18 hours straight) or a preposterous hat, ideal for peacocking in any situation.
A real man is not afraid to get stuck in
Mario never backs down from a fight, whether it’s battling enemies a thousand times his size with nothing but a turtle shell as a weapon, or leaping death-defying distances to save his missus. Be it eagerly boshing any stimulants he can get his hands on, getting into fights, hallucinating, drinking potions that make him feel invincible, or headbutting things until they start pouring out money, time spent with Mario is much like a night out in any British town on a Friday night.
Lover, fighter, friend, adventurer and have-a-go-hero, Mario is a role model for us all.