On Catching Them All

I recently read a statement from the CEO of McDonald's explaining why the fast-food chain turned down the offer to carry Pokemon toys in connection with the new Pokemon movie promotion. He stated something to the effect that McDonald's didn't want to help promote the movie because Pokemon didn't fit with their family-friendly image and that it was hard to find a "good guy" amongst all the Pokemon, anyway.

McDonald's will, however, promote the movie Toy Story 2 which, in addition to the toys collectively using one of their friend's heads as a battering ram to get them out of a heating duct, also offers up a glimpse into a computer-generated virtual brothel that is the Barbie Whorehouse...I mean, Playhouse. After passing the scantily clad dolls, the male characters in the movie actually stop their little toy car and drive back in order to better ogle the giggling, pool-splashing Barbie collective with the Mr. Potato Head character all the while chanting "I'm a married spud, I'm a married spud." Women-as-Objects and sexual harassment themes are obviously acceptable ones for the CEO of McDonald's; a cuter-than-hell electric mouse gives him agita. Whatever.

I'm getting a little tired of this whole "I just don't understand Pokemon; it's like another world to me!" ignorant attitude of parents - and adults in general - across America. The ignorant statement from the McDonald's CEO is a perfect example: it's hard to find a good guy? Anyone who's watched even a couple of the episodes can tell you that basically everybody's a good guy, and there isn't an episode that gets played on TV that doesn't involve some sort of moral do-good message by the end. The only characters you can even remotely call "bad guys" are Team Rocket (two Pokemon Trainers, Jessie and James) and their Pokemon sidekick Meowth, and they're more mischievous than bad, and almost always get foiled in the end.

[I'd like to interject that Avery and I, comic book geeks that we are, have embraced Pokemon with as much fervor as your average twelve-year-old. We've seen the movie, we read the comic book version, we own many of the episodes on video, we have many variations of Pikachu (stuffed, keychain, figurine) sitting around the apartment, we've eaten our fair share of Burger King Big Kids Meals but stopped after getting the coveted talking Pikachu toy (that and burping up too much liquid smoke from their hamburgers), we own the card games, one booster pack and two Nintendo Game Boys complete with the Pokemon Yellow game. Avery is 26 and I am 28. We have no children. We get it. What's wrong with the rest of you adults?]

Does this sound like "bad guy" behavior to you? In the 10-minute short film "Pikachu's Vacation" which was shown before the actual Pokemon movie, Pikachu told the other Pokemon not to battle because it would set a bad example for the baby Pokemon that happened to be with them; all of the Pokemon banded together to help a Charizard that had gotten his head stuck in a pipe - even the Pokemon dubbed the "lonely Pokemon," so named for its tendency to think only of itself; and Pikachu made it a point to shake hands with the Pokemon who they battled against as he was leaving to rejoin his trainer. All that mushy stuff in one scant half-hour! The theme of the feature movie itself was incredibly anti-fighting, with one part of the dialogue between two Pokemon along the lines of "we do have a lot in common...the same sky, the same trees...maybe if we concentrated more on what was the same instead of what was different...." You get the idea.

Obviously, Mr. CEO has never seen an episode of Pokemon. All the other ignorant adults who have also never seen an episode of Pokemon listen to Mr. CEO. The majority opinion somehow becomes "Pokemon are bad." Sure, Pokemon battle. But they get called back by their trainers when it looks like they're in trouble or may be injured. In a world where professional wrestling has become a prime-time cable TV staple, I'd rather have my kid see a cuddly electric mouse battle a cute butterfly in a Pokemon gym than a few ugly men dropping people on their heads and getting hit in the face with metal folding chairs.