Video games encourage violent behaviour!
Anime rots your brain!
Harry Potter converts readers into satan worshipping magic users!
Time after time the books, the shows, movies, music and the games we love come under fire from critics about the messages they push on us as their audience. We’re told that consuming them will have a detrimental effect on us and will lead us astray. Every now and again a journalist, concerned parent or pushy politician will dredge up a story about the consequences our hobbies are having on us and the media will frenzy around the subject for a few days and nothing will be done about it really and we all go back to our lives. Now though an animal rights group has taken issue with another hobby and while it’s not their first shot, it has finally pushed me a little too far!
In what has to be one of the most absurd media campaigns ever undertaken by an organisation in the history of ridiculousness, PETA have turned their attention to the video game industry with a particular focus on the Pokémon series. In an online game you can pit your battered pocket monster against a vicious trainer, it’s all there in “Pokémon Black and Blue”! This is obviously a media campaign by the organisation to strum up interest and get people talking about them and their work, I genuinely get that and I know that by talking about it here I’m almost advertising them in a sense but I’ve got to say my piece because in all honesty this has p*ss*d me off.
“The amount of time that Pokémon spend stuffed in pokéballs is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to “perform” in circuses. But the difference between real life and this fictional world full of organized animal fighting is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible.” (PETA Website)
So while at first glance it appears that this campaign could be construed as a stupid way of drumming up interest in the group, it’s also evident that PETA are taking issue with the messages they feel Pokémon are portraying to children! So let’s just see what messages PETA believe children are absorbing by watching/playing in the Pokémon Universe:
1/ Pokémon are stuffed into pokéballs
We have no idea what happens to the Pokémon once inside the balls, writers, developers and publishers of the franchise have never said what happens or how they really work and to date fans have always speculated about the capturing and storage devices with theories ranging from virtual worlds designed to make the creature as happy and comfortable as possible to a simple device used to store the Pokémon’s energy reacting upon voice command to release and capture.
“It is not known what a Pokémon does whilst inside their Poké Ball. The inside of a Poké Ball is “designed to be as comfortable for the Pokémon residing within”, although this is not necessarily true. The Pokémon inside may simply be sleeping, or completely unaware of its own existence. Pokémon are, however aware when inside their Poké Ball — by calling their name, the Pokémon will emerge from its Poké Ball almost immediately.“
Let’s not forget that some Pokémon decide for themselves whether or not they want to use the Ball e.g. Meowth and Pikachu
2/ Pokémon are only used for fighting
PETA have drawn conclusions that paint the Pokémon series as cruel as real life animal fighting, that the games and shows depict children brutalising their capture animals for means of competitive fighting. Yes, Pokémon fight but that is only one tiny element, the creatures also work alongside man to improve the world they live, helping to dig foundations for building, power energy plants and even aid in hospitals. People who abuse their Pokémon in any shape or form are seen as evil and are often portrayed as villains in the story.
This seems to be the main argument PETA are pushing, that the Pokémon franchise makes light of real life problems and could encourage the abuse of real animals and pets by children. Now I don’t know what game or series these people were watching but I’ve never once thought it would be a great idea to go outside and chuck a plastic ball at my dog or force my cat to square off against the cows in the field next door.
PETA have clearly missed the point of Pokémon by miles!
Pokémon aren’t portrayed as creatures to be bullied, beaten and abused by Trainers, Scientists or Collectors. They are beings that characters in the show and games form deep bonds with not unlike the ones we form with our own real life pets.
If anything Pokémon Trainer Ash is a role model for kids, putting the safety and needs of his own Pokémon ahead of his own, hell, if they’d watched the first few episodes they’d have learned how Ash quickly learns that Pikachu isn’t just a tool for him to use to become a Pokémon Master and how he protects Pikachu from a flock of very angry Spearows, he frees his Pokémon when he knows the time is right (although as fans we’ve often stared in disbelief particularly when he let Charizard go!) but the bond he created with them still remains and this is portrayed as something more important than any Gym badge.
Who could forget these scenes from the first Pokémon where Ash intervenes to stop the Pokémon from killing each other?
You might be asking yourself at this stage, so what? Why care what PETA have to say? Well it’s important that we as fans of these games, movies, and televisions defend them! It’s important that we call out the people and organisations who want to stop them and put them down. We have to show that there is something more to these than just some pretty colourful flashing images and that the messages these shows and games are real and that they offer more to us than just a few hours of entertainment.
These aren’t just our hobbies, these are the things that make us happy, these are things that help us connect with other people, it’s our way of life.
(Oh and for the record if anyone from PETA happens to read this… I’m a vegetarian for the last 10yrs!)
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!