Super Mario Bros., The Last of Us, and pop’s obsession with mushrooms

Super Mario Bros., The Last of Us, and pop’s obsession with mushrooms

The highest-grossing movie of the moment and series of the year have several aspects in common, as well as a shake-up Film box office and the TV rating.

Super Mario Broswhich was released last week, has already become the most successful film of the season globally, in addition to breaking records in its early days on the bill.

The last of uswhich ended its first season weeks ago, has become a television phenomenon from the HBO screen: it has surpassed 8 million viewers in the United States and has become the most watched program in the history of HBO Max in Europe and Latin America.

The Last of Us and Super Mario Bros. have one thing in common… mushroom magicLayan Hentcher

Both are, quite obviously, successful adaptations of two iconic video games, with a wide generation gap in styles and even consoles: From Super Mario Bouncycreated by Nintendo in 1984, to Apocalyptic adventure game It was released by Sony during the last decade in the field of PlayStation.

In addition, strong creative alliances have been established in both areas. The movie starring the Brooklyn plumber brothers combines complementary profiles as producer Shigeru Miyamoto (developer of video games like Mario and Donkey Kong, among others, and a top Nintendo executive in the 1980s) with Chis Meledandri’s studio Illumination (responsible for the saga) Minions And Favorite villain), who are joined by the creator and director of young children’s animation Young Titans in Action.

in The last of usthe creative appearance of Neil Druckmann (part of the Naughty Dog company that created the original video game) with the famous Craig Mazin (Responsible for the series Chernobylalso for HBO) to which actor Pedro Pascal and actress Bella Ramsay have been added as protagonists, and music by Gustavo Santaolalla (also in the game).

But there is a less obvious feature, equally contemporary in the serendipity: Mushroom magic.

the fungus pop It is not new and has accompanied popular culture for decades (from Lewis Carroll to hallucinogenic music, at least), but today it is experiencing a boom that is also in line with trends. medicalAnd foodAnd philosophical and even world views.

Something of this can also be seen at the latest edition of the SXSW festival, in Texas, where not only did one of the world’s most famous mycologists speak, Paul Stamets (In honor of a mushroom species just named last month), but formulations based on mushrooms have been brought into legal research and licensing discussions, particularly in mental health issues and microdose treatments. Less related to hallucinations, and more to do with the discovery of Asian and American mysteries related to this kingdom that escape and transcend the traditional classification between animals and plants. Hundreds of thousands of species including yeastsOr mold or edible mushrooms are the most famous of its medicinal derivatives of penicillin.

Something strange is happening in the tandem that springs from the Mushroom Kingdom, the fantasy realm of fantasy Super Mario Brosand many more animated mushroom characters from the story of the brothers Mario and Luigi, the dangerous Cordyceps that threatens humanity in The last of usSomething that goes from a terrifying fascination to a fear of the unknown.

Super Mario Bros., the movie, a video game event that strengthens the tie-in with The Last of Us

Indeed, the phenomenon of mushrooms in today’s culture appears as the exact opposite of the ubiquitous AI media issue: as man tries to create machines that mimic mental abilities, he discovers the potential of microscopic networks with “magical” abilities that generate more than one surprise.

In instantaneous times, fungi provide superhuman temporality, geological magnitudes (almost all other species pre-exist), and in the midst of the Anthropocene, they display a “natural intelligence” of creation, survival, and regeneration…

It is also detailed by a female voice in the first plural pronoun at the beginning of the documentary Wonderful fungus (available on Netflix): “We brought life. We are everywhere. We are the wisdom of a billion years…”.

And while the world is fascinated by the ability of machines to respond to chatter in natural language, the deep and imperceptible networks of communication between plants through fungi fascinate fungi lovers.

The analogy does exist: one speaks of Wide wood network To study that comprehensive map of the nodes that connect the trees underground.

Our challenge today is to understand the language of nature.Paul Stamets, who became the figure of this stage of innate culture, develops.

“I think nature is intelligent. That we do not have the ability to communicate with her does not negate her intelligence: it speaks to our inability to communicate.”

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