PETA’s new Pokémon campaign

The Pokémon parody is a poor approach to addressing animal cruelty.

by Ronald Dixon

Nintendo released their latest versions of the Pokémon series, Black 2 and White, on Oct. 7. Fans of Pokémon did not just have the opportunity to play the first ever direct sequel to a Pokémon game, though. They also had the chance to play a free flash Pokémon game, brought to you by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA has had its share of controversial projects over the years. They previously noted the fact that Mario from the hit Nintendo series was inhumane against animals — they thought that Mario skinned a raccoon for the outfit. PETA has also tried to promulgate its message through naked celebrities in the form of risqué ads.

Given its previous actions, the release of their Pokémon parody, “Black and Blue,” was not a huge surprise.

Apart from the surprisingly accurate graphics and battle sequences, the substance of the game runs contrary to the moral system of Pokémon. It depicts the Pokémon, with Pikachu as the leader, escaping the horrible conditions of their trainers. The Pokémon appear tarnished, and the humans are shown to be evil, maniacal trainers who only use their Pokémon as battling machines.

Having played through the entire 15-minute game, I found that my view of PETA, which was almost apathetic beforehand, instantly became one of disdain. Having been a Pokémon fan since my early childhood, I almost found it offensive that PETA was spreading the message that Pokémon influences little kids to abuse animals. Well, according to what actually happens in the games and the anime, Pokémon are treated with love and compassion, and trainers and Pokémon work together in order to accomplish their goals, which end up strengthening their bonds.

PETA may have an altruistic goal to stop the mistreatment of animals, but resorting to attacking and using unrelated media that targets a younger audience reduces its credibility. In order for them to get it back, PETA needs to focus on realistic and appropriate issues.