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PETA attack against ‘Pokémon’ hurts itself in its confusion

As if Ash Ketchum didn’t have enough to deal with in fighting Team Rocket, now he has to defend himself againstPETA.

The organization released a statement last week condemning the popular video game and television series, “Pokémon,” as a proponent of animal cruelty: “Much like animals in the real world, Pokémon are treated as unfeeling objects and used for such things as human entertainment and as subjects in experiments. The way that Pokémon are stuffed into pokéballs is similar to how circuses chain elephants inside railroad cars and let them out only to perform confusing and often painful tricks that were taught using sharp steel-tipped bullhooks and electric shock prods,” a press release reads.

The group coupled this with the release of its own online video game, titled, “Pokémon Black and Blue: Gotta Free ‘em All,” in which abused Pokémon fight back against their owners.

Well, thank God. I was really concerned. If there’s one thing we need to worry about right now, it’s the safety of fictional characters from 1990s television shows.

This isn’t the first time PETA has come “to the rescue” when it comes to fictional characters, either. In 2011, the group protested the game “Battlefield 3” because players are forced to kill a rat within the first few seconds of a level.

Later last year, the Mario brothers were thrust into the center of a scandal when PETA protested the use of a “tanooki suit” as a power-up. Apparently, it was too similar to a real animal: the tanuki raccoon dog, which is notorious for being beaten and skinned for its fur. Who will protect the beloved tanuki raccoon dog from the vicious, hate-filled propaganda of Mario the Plumber if not PETA?

The group has become so well known for blowing things out of proportion that the real meaning of their protests is lost. It actively searches for any little thing it can attack in popular culture so it can get its name in the papers and, more often than not, it’s wrong.

In the case of the new “Pokémon” game, it has completely ignored the real message of the Pokémon franchise, which is not one of animal cruelty.

“PETA seems to have missed the single biggest theme of the Pokémon series: that Pokémon should be treated humanely and live as our equals,” said David Ewalt of Forbes. “The games are loaded with an endless stream of characters who go on and on about true friendship between man and Pokémon.”

Exactly. What part of “you’re my best friend in a world we must defend” did you not get? “Pokémon” has not only promoted the idea of equality in the past, its most recently released games also focus on liberating Pokémon. So, relax PETA. I think we all know the real reason you’re lashing out is that it’s taking forever to get your Magikarp to level 100.

 

PETA, which stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” is a large international organization infamous for their radical attempts to defend animal rights. When Black and White came out, many people thought Team Plasma might have been inspired by PETA since, like PETA, Team Plasma wants to liberate Pokemon from their Trainers. Welp, it seems PETA has responded to their portrayal in Unova by creating a mini-game to tie in with Black 2 and White 2‘s release where they can tell the world what they themselves actually think.

The game features you as Pikachu, Tepig, Snivy, and Oshawott attacking Cheren, Professor Juniper, Ghetsis, and Ash. Before and after you battle them, you have discussions about animal ethics (using Pokemon and Pokemon terminology, of course).

While it may appear at first that PETA is attacking the Pokemon franchise with this game, it seems more like they’re using Pokemon’s popularity as an opportunity to educate children about animal cruelty. As you play the game, you unlock raw videos of animals getting beaten and they use Pokemon examples for what you shouldn’t do in real life to your animals (like constrain your animals in cages). There is also a point where you battle Ash and he tells you, as Pikachu, that he doesn’t care for you, never cared to ask you if you wanted to battle other Pokemon, and never cared whether you were stuffed in a Poke Ball or not. This may be meant to make fans say “That’s the exact opposite of the truth” and think about all the times Ash has cared for Pikachu (which makes you think about how to treat animals), while making non-fans think that what Ash is saying is cruel and that they would never treat animals like that. This disconnect is where the moral message is generated (at least that’s my interpretation!). Or it could just be that PETA is crazy and blindly attacking the franchise… who knows…

 

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