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Ready Player Four: Waluigi and the Rainbow Road to the Alt-Right

Michael Bodkin

Nintendo’s mischievous fourth Mario brother, Waluigi, circulates in alternative online communities in a wild exchange of memes. This paper charts an online folkloric reception of Waluigi through an intertwining of controversial cultural politics with the critical theory of Jean Baudrillard and Mikhail Bakhtin. As an empty signifier whose carnivalesque elements imply the inversion of both the Marioverse and non-gaming worlds, Waluigi is situated as an apparatus for the realization of alternative politics. With contributions from the subcultural radar of Angela Nagle, this paper explores the fate of Nintendo’s nefarious avatar as a mascot for alt-light manipulation.

Keywords: Waluigi, Nintendo, alt-right, Baudrillard, carnivalesque

Michael Bodkin is a PhD student in the Centre for the Study of Theory & Criticism at Western University. With a MA in Theology, Michael’s current work focuses on the intersection of taste, kitsch, and kenosis as a site of decolonizing practices.