PETA: Let the Games Begin

Staff Writer

When someone mentions Pokémon to me, the last thing that comes to mind is cruelty and abuse toward animals. However, it has been deemed as such by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). While I completely respect the plea for fair treatment of animals, I do not understand how PETA thinks that Pokémon teaches children to be violent to animals.
In all of the Pokémon games—whether it is through Team Rocket, Team Galactic or Team Plasma—there is a strong organization that tries to take away Pokémon’s freedom just so the unit can exploit them for their own group goal. It is then up to the player to save the Pokémon and teach the nefarious association how to live properly in harmony with the creatures, since it is emphasized that they have feelings, too. To me, it seems that the game promotes caring for all living things.
However, PETA’s game attempted to represent what Pokémon is really about In doing so, they misconstrued what actually occurs in the game and in the show. PETA depicted humans in Pokémon to be trainers with clubs and whips, corrupt scientists and drunks, all of whom are specked with blood. To be honest, I cannot recall a single time in the game where I have seen these characters.
Although Pokémon are forced to fight, abuse and neglect are never advocated. In the show, the protagonist, Ash Ketchum, is portrayed as compassionate toward Pokémon and he objects to any mistreatment of them. PETA’s interpretation of Ash was completely off the mark in that he beats his Pokémon and forces them to fight. In actuality, Ash has always asked his Pokémon what they wanted and let them decide what to do because he treats his team in a caring manner.
As a person who has grown up playing these games since I was five, I find the parody to be an attack on my childhood. I feel as if PETA’s accusations are directed at me, a Pokémon fan, and that I am being accused of animal abuse. However, what I enjoyed most was taking care of my Pokémon. Yeah, I know it’s cheesy, but my favorite part of the game was when I was able to raise a Pokémon to the point where it loved me. In my perspective, the game has always been about this trainer/pokémon bond, not violence. Regardless of PETA’s intentions, the parody accomplishes nothing but insulting Pokémon enthusiasts and tarnishes their own reputation.
This attack on Nintendo follows up on another parody against Mario and his wearing of a raccoon’s skin. In all of the Mario games, he collects different items, like the raccoon costume, that give him upgrades to beat the level. PETA’s argument against Mario is that the hero promotes wearing animal fur to gain strength. In that case, we better watch out for children who look for fire flowers to attack their “enemies.”
As a whole, the creation of this parody seems frivolous because PETA is trying to promote awareness of animal cruelty. Although the original idea was applaudable in attempting to stop animal abuse, there are many other ways to encourage adolescents against abusing animals than inventing a parody that misconstrues the intent of an animal-friendly game.