Brow Beat

Don’t Let Trump’s Penis Ruin Toad, the Mushroom-Headed Sage of Mario Kart

Toad from Mario Kart.
Do not see Trump’s penis in this picture. See hope.

On Tuesday, the Guardian published some tidbits from Stormy Daniels’ forthcoming memoir, but you probably only heard about her graphic description of President Trump: “He knows he has an unusual penis … It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool.”*

She added, brutally: “I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart.”

Oof. As a longtime Mario Kart “mushroom character” player, my world was turned upside down, just like that. Where do I go from here?

To start, I would ask Daniels and her editor, in invoking “the mushroom character in Mario Kart,” to please respect this icon by referring to him by his name: Toad. And I have to wonder: Is Stephanie Clifford a gamer? A big Mario Kart fan? If so, I assume she doesn’t care for Toad, because if she did, I don’t think her mind would automatically reach for that image when recalling famous, terrible sex.

But I don’t mean to shame the president, or Daniels’ choice of words for his genitals. I am simply mourning that Toad, in my view the best Mario Kart character—both as a personified mushroom and as a racer—will now forever be associated with an “unusual” penis.

This is terrible. I recognize that Toad is not the absolute “best” character in the games, nor the consensus favorite among fans—he and Toadette usually tend to fall just short—but Toad is a perfect symbol of the tenacity essential to the game, and to the giants of history: a symbol of grace, courage, and determination. Toad’s a smiley guy, driving along with a genuine joy that translates to whoever plays as him. He cheers but never gloats. And when he’s saddened by a loss, he is adorable instead of whiny or morose. (Compare him to Waluigi. What a difference!) You know he’s gonna get pick himself back up and get back to racing again with the biggest smile on his face, ready to squeak “I’m the best!” when a well-earned victory is finally within his clutches. He is the least cocky winner and the most magnanimous loser. He is a considerate racing partner in Double Dash—never a burden. He’s extremely chipper, a beacon of purity, innocence, and resolve in an aggressive, unforgiving world.

In other words, his image, his philosophy, his M.O. are the antithesis of Trumpism, with which he will now be forever associated. “You’re playing as Trump’s penis!,” the other players will now say, forever, when I select him. Still, in this difficult time, I would like us to focus on what’s really important.

Because Toad is so tiny and light, he is usually easily pushed aside by the bigger, gruffer characters, like the Trumpian king Bowser.* He does not have the stability of Mario or the imposing presence of Wario and, although he is generally speedy, doesn’t quite have the barreling might of Donkey Kong. But remember that in most Mario Kart games, especially Super Circuit, he has high acceleration, allowing him to catch right up after he falls. And when he falls, he falls quickly and returns to the track promptly, allowing a quick recovery. He can cut track curves easily, drift with efficiency, and squeeze into small bridges and shortcuts with unrivaled precision. He is not just a great character; he is an amazing racer. He is the ever-proud, never-down-and-out underdog—the undertoad, if you will. He should be a symbol for resilience and optimism, not the president’s penis. Let’s not let this ruin Toad for the many, the proud, the Toad Racers.

I, for one, will still select Toad and his mushroom cap with pride.

Read more from Slate:
How Will the President Respond to His Penis Being Described as “the Mushroom Character From Mario Kart”?
The Movie From the Creator of This Is Us Is Bad Enough to Make You Question Life Itself
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Am I Really Supposed to Brush My Cat’s Teeth?

Correction, Sept. 18, 2018: This article originally misstated that the Guardian piece that published excerpts from Stormy Daniels’ memoir was published on Monday. It was published on Tuesday. It also misspelled the name of Bowser, king of the Koopas.