Red Shoes, Pink Fur, and White Rock: The Unauthorized Biography of Sonic the Hedgehog
It was the beginning of the 1990s. America was on the cusp of a new social revolution. Gone were the days of wholesome entertainment. Technological progress marched forward, leaving stolen innocence and broken childhood in its wake. The youth of the remaining world superpower, disillusioned by the triumph of Capitalism and craving a dark foil to the new, shiny Silicon World Order, cast the banal epitomes of adolescent naiveté aside, seeking a grittier reflection of the frightening realization of reality. Old familiar faces, such as the jovial plumber Mario slipped into the cracks of obscurity. Riding a quicksilver bolt of media lightning, a new, sophisticated, and edgy hero stampeded onto the scene. Enter the hedgehog. With his cocky attitude, rebellious demeanor, and mercurial temper, the blue blaze captured the hearts of disenfranchised youth seeking escape from the suburban sprawl. He was gritty, slaying robots and portly educator-types in a digital effigy of youthful resistance. He was environmentally aware, eschewing the shiny industrialism of the clueless American masses. But most importantly, he was fast. Sonic was his name, and speed was his game.
After a triumphant debut in 1991, the smug speedster stood atop his throne of youthful adulation. Born upon the fleet feet of American consciousness, The Blue Blur unleashed another work of strident opposition to greed and pollution. In 1992, Sonic became the very epitome of the disquieted zeitgeist of the American youth. He ran against war, against poverty, against the slavery of the military-industrial complex. He ran for peace and acceptance. But most of all, he ran for us. Sonic was the very image of righteous indignation; no, he was not perfect. He was a snide punk who stood up to authority. He broke the law. He said the words obedient children were not permitted to speak. He was an imperfect hedgehog, but he was a shining role model for indignant young men and women all across the nation. Youth everywhere envied Sonic’s young sidekick Miles “Tails” Prower, wishing that they too could run at the hedgehog’s side. Then, in 1994, Sonic once again established himself as the foremost flag-bearer for the youth of America. He continued to run, but now he ran for friendship and unity. With his third major blockbuster, Sonic loomed tall above the simple and squeaky-clean heroes of the bygone Cold War era. But, as with all rising stars, Sonic’s situation was poised to go nova. Even as his career soared to new heights, his personal life began to falter in the blocks. Sonic the hedgehog was in trouble.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the beginning of the end for Sonic, but if you were to ask him now where everything went astray, he’d probably tell you it was when he began to abuse substances. After Sonic 3, the star athlete realized that he wouldn’t be able to maintain his fit physique forever. Competing with his new rival and co-star Knuckles the Echidna taught him that lesson. So, he turned to the one man his fans hated most. In a moment of despair, Sonic asked his on-screen nemesis, Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, for help.
Dr. Robotnik, nicknamed The Eggman during his undergraduate career at MIT due to his purported renown as a dealer of illicit growth hormones, was a character of ill repute. Discovered by Sonic’s marketing directors exhorting the principles of fascism and eugenics in a sordid pub down in old Angel Island, the nefarious PhD was quickly signed on to play Sonic’s dictatorial archenemy. But for all his onscreen bluster and buffoonery, Dr. Robotnik maintained a cold and unappealing demeanor in his personal life. Arrested more than once for selling drugs in the back alley of the studio, Eggman quickly became a problem for management. However, the Sonic franchise was selling, so the studio refused to let the foul doctor go. When Sonic eventually came to him seeking supplements to help him maintain his youthful vigor, the doctor was more than happy to comply.
At first, the pills seemed to work. Sonic’s energy was back. He could run for longer, faster, and harder. His self-esteem improved, and his trademark attitude returned in full force. With his admirable capabilities and stunning charisma rejuvenated, Sonic felt that he was at the top of the game. His life entered a whirlwind of fame, fortune, and fornication. He spent his days battling for justice and environmentalism and his nights drinking and fraternizing with the groupies. Sonic never wanted his high to end. Morning and evening blended together in a haze of booze, shame, and sweaty fur. Sonic was untouchable, and all of the ladies wanted to see if he was really as fast as he claimed to be. Then, one fateful day in the late 90s, Sonic met a young, pink hedgehog by the name of Amy Rose. The two began a torrid love affair filled with sullied bathroom floors and dusty concrete streets. The two fell deeply in love, but Sonic’s quickly exacerbating chemical dependency began to take a toll on his normally cool exterior. One minute he and Amy were in the throes of passion, only for the blue hero to erupt into an outburst of anger, after which one or both of the hedgehogs would always speed away. The Studio saw the dynamic relationship, and wanting to capitalize on such explosive drama, cast Amy to play the role of Sonic’s young stalker in their upcoming drama, Sonic Adventure. Slated to be the studio’s most expensive and biggest production ever, management wanted to capture Sonic’s world as never seen before. However, as the marketing team ramped up advertising, constructing an indefatigable hype train behind the blue hero, Sonic’s life spiraled further and further out of control. Chaos entered Sonic’s life.
Eggman’s supplements no longer giving him the testosterone boost he needed, Sonic soon turned to illegal substances. On a dark night in a seedy alley, Sonic, joined by Eggman, met a dealer with a packet of “Chaos Crystals.” Although he was hesitant to go this far, Robotnik soon cajoled Sonic into snorting the tiny rocks. The blue hedgehog awoke hours later clutching a tailed frog and running faster than he ever had before. He didn’t care what the substance was; he just knew he needed it, and the studio, impressed by this unprecedented speed and feats of martial prowess, asked no questions. Sonic ran and battled Dr. Robotnik onscreen but off-screen, his life utterly collapsed. Amy moved out of their posh apartment; Knuckles stopped returning his calls. Only Eggman, profiting from Sonic’s personal chaos and misery, remained close. However, the disillusioned public of the late 90s lapped up the over-the-top action of Sonic Adventure, and the studio soon faced an overwhelming demand for a sequel. Their hero Sonic was in poor shape for handling the lead of such a demanding blockbuster, though, so the studio sought a new co-star to help them anchor the even darker appetites of the American people of the new millennium. Sonic was soon forced to face his own Shadow.
Sonic Adventure 2 was slated to be the windfall of cash and public approval that would pave the way for the studio to lead the entertainment business into the shining new millennium. The production would be a tent-pole event that would anchor the studio for years to come and introduce a slate of intriguing new stars. Foremost among them was Shadow the hedgehog, a darker, grittier, gun-toting counterpart to the Blue Blur. Cashing in on Americans’ love for anti-heroes, Shadow was the studio’s solution to the Sonic problem. As Sonic’s personal life quickly spiraled out of control in a self-medicated frenzy of Chaos Crystals and cheap, furry hookers, Shadow launched a wave of public approval as he ran faster and fought harder than Sonic. Things were heating up on the internet, and the eve of the studio’s biggest release finally approached. However, tragedy struck at what should have been Sonic’s finest hour. On opening night, private security officers from the Gunn Corporation found a heavily intoxicated and pants-less Sonic passed out in a chemical lab after trying to break in to find the raw materials necessary to create Chaos Crystals. The studio had had enough and checked Sonic into a rehabilitation clinic in an attempt to regain public sympathy, but it was too little, too late. The public was through with Sonic’s shenanigans. The studio’s lead star was completely out of commission while being treated for his drug addictions. Eggman was arrested for running a shady prostitution ring and for distributing Chaos Crystals from a studio warehouse. Amy refused to answer any calls, and Tails discovered that his extra appendage was in fact a gigantic tumor. The studio tried to refocus and release a solo-Shadow production, but the endeavor was a flop, and the studio went under.
Sonic was discharged from the clinic, but he now had another problem: his debt collectors were searching for him. Once again, the blue hedgehog turned to Dr. Robotnik, who told him he could make some money smuggling guns and illegal substances across the border and used his criminal connections to arrange a position for Sonic from behind bars. Sonic was able to make a little money, but eventually the allure of the drugs he was smuggling grew too much, and the hedgehog again found himself addicted to Chaos Crystals. The smugglers kicked Sonic to the curb, and after Robotnik was murdered in prison by a mentally challenged cat armed with some fishing line and upset that Egmman had derided his imaginary froggy friend, the hedgehog was left with nowhere to turn. Sonic’s life hit rock bottom, and he resorted to posing for fetish sites to earn enough money to fuel his drug habit. He became the butt of every joke, with a new internet game called “hedgehog roulette” capitalizing on the Blue Blur’s career suicide.
Then one fateful day, Knuckles the Echidna, now a treasure-hunting reality-show star, discovered a woefully thin and weak Sonic panhandling on the street, fecal matter and urine clearly staining his once luxurious fur. The former star athlete’s muscles had so far atrophied that he had become wheel-chair bound and wholly dependent on the kindness of total strangers. Knuckles, feeling a twinge of pain for his former friend, asked Sonic to take a trip with him, and the two traveled to a nearby bayou called the Lost World. Knuckles arranged an intervention with many of Sonic’s old friends, and Sonic was finally confronted by the weight of his iniquities. After an ailing Tails told Sonic through tears about his cancer, the hedgehog finally had a spiritual experience, and wishing to capture this new high and get his life back on track, committed his life to practicing Santeria. Sonic changed his name to Sanic and began to start exercising again. With the patient help of his new religious community, Sanic kicked the drugs and focused his life on writing music to raise money for his new community and for his old friends. He regained the use of his legs and eventually developed some skill in music. Sanic, with a new zest for life and a renewed purpose, moved back to Angel Island to spread the good news of Santeria and to lead a music ministry.
Meanwhile, all of the trademarks and intelligent properties once owned by the studio were picked up by another developer, and after conducting extensive public polls, the entertainment industry determined that people were finally ready for a new Sonic adventure. The new studio approached Sanic, but he was unwilling to dive again into the entertainment industry and was dedicated to his new humble existence. The new studio marshaled on without the former superstar, finding look-alikes to replace all of the major characters, and the Sonic franchise lives on.
Today, if you were to stroll down the entertainment district of Angel Island, you’d likely find Sanic the hedgehog playing in a small club to raise money for his old friend Tails’ cancer treatment. His voice isn’t what it used to be, and he hasn’t retained all of the dexterity in his limbs, but there’s an endearing earnestness to the way Sanic belts out old tunes from his hit productions. If you get a chance, you should visit Sanic’s bandcamp page and leave a few dollars for nostalgia’s sake.