I want to make it clear that if I should ever be driven to throwing myself off a cliff, or, flinging myself off something easier to summit – a Barbie playhouse maybe – that my untimely demise can be traced entirely to the root of all evil: namely, Pokemon.
If you have no idea what I just said, then by all things good and pure, count your blessing. I too was once blissfully unaware of the world of Pokemon and the “gotta catch ‘em all” phenomena dreamt up by some marketing strategist in the bowels of hell.
Poke who? Pokemon, for the handful of you who have actually resided on another planet since 1998 and are thus unfamiliar, is the ceaseless phenomenon which began as a hand-held video game and virtually exploded across the globe in every form from trading cards to a cartoon and a number of full-length feature films.
Pokemon is not your father’s cartoon mouse or wisecracking rabbit. It is of the cartoon variety that adult cartoon fanatics (and people with far too much time on their hands) rabidly refer to as “anime.”
Fine art. This is based on the fine art of creating cartoons with a handful of badly dubbed still frames thrown together. This provides all the flow and fluid motion of the stick figure flip-cartoons penciled in the corner of your seventh-grade math book.
It’s the Pet Rock of animation, and unlike the algebra you hypothetically absorbed back then, it will not die!
Having survived the last few fads, I wasn’t really expecting one to sucker punch me so successfully. I’ve fought off Beanie Babies, Power Rangers, Barney the Dinosaur, and the marketing machinations from just about every Disney movie produced since 1997.
Met my match. With Pokemon, however, I have met my match.
At the onset of the craze, in 1998, holding my then infant son on my hip, his young mind solely captive to the entertainment I chose for him, I was quick to declare, smugly, that no child of mine would ever indulge in anything as ridiculously manipulative as Pokemon.
How I weep today for that hopelessly naive woman of yesterday.
Addict. Perhaps if we had only kept him at home, hidden away from all outside influences we would have stood a chance.
Instead, at around 5 he was exposed to older children – and by this I mean those influential and wise elders of, say, 6 or so.
Lured by the siren song of being just like the “big kids” but with no real comprehension of the trading cards and characters (remember, this child cannot even read), he was soon utterly and hopelessly captivated.
In that way, Pokemon cards are the crack of the kindergarten set. Just one hit and they are hooked. My son is now entering year two of the addiction with no signs of shaking the monkey (Jiggly-Puff?) off his back.
Not all bad. Granted, we’ve had some good times. Committed to experiencing what my children do, we’ve watched the Pokemon cartoons (all 77,000 episodes).
We laughed as Team Rocket blasted off again. We cried when it looked as if Ash and Pikachu would part. We were sublimely melancholy – almost martyred really – when Butterfree flew off with this mate.
Looking for a cure. Nonetheless, I haven’t entirely thrown in the towel. I do hold the delusion that there is some faint optimism in the amount of Pokemon paraphernalia offloaded at yard sales.
This allows me to cling to at least the raft of hope that a cure is out there, somewhere.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the mass peer addiction, if your school age child isn’t at least passingly familiar with the Pokemon world, you’d best just plaster that “kick me” sign on their backpack right now and save their classmates having to think of it themselves.
Granted, there are parents who are steadfast in preventing their child from knowing what Pokemon are and how the whole thing works. Their children, coincidentally, get beat up a lot.
Until that blessed day comes when Pokemon is cast aside (and when I will, in my maudlin mommy way mourn sentimentally how back in the day he liked Pikachu better than girls), I am attempting to insert my own characters into the mix.
New character. He’s still impressionable enough, at 7, to believe that there just might be a character called “Pick’nupstuff” who engages in daily battles of bed making and the putting away of shoes.
If only I can get my hands on a trading card for that.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt won’t rest until she has her own trading card. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44408.)