Pokemon And Beyond

Pok?mon and Beyond
Imagine for a moment a little boy lifting his sleepy little head off his Pokemon pillowcase, climbing reluctantly out from underneath his warm Pokemon blanket, exchanging from his Pokemon pajamas into his favorite Pokemon T-shirt, drinking his morning juice from his beloved Pokemon cup. All the while, he is making his way into the family den to watch his favorite cartoon, Pokemon. A typical day begins like this for children in households all over the country.
Evidence of the Pokemon phenomenon is everywhere: on television, in movie theaters, at fast-food restaurants and in products of every conceivable type. There are Pokemon videos, toys, books, software, videogames, trading cards, school supplies, clothing and toiletries. The Pokemon brand is a five billion dollar industry worldwide. The prosperity of Pokemon has attracted negative attention from parents, educators and childhood experts. Labeling a product either good or bad on the basis of profit is wrong. The worth of a toy should be determined by the educational value for a child rather than monetary profits. The only downside to Pokemon’s success is it’s success. The Pokemon rage has spread like wildfire through schools and communities by word of mouth – the old fashioned way. Although scarce, advertisements for Pokemon appeal to the need for affiliation, the need to achieve and the need to dominate. The whole Pokemon fantasy is cognitively engaging for the targeted audience of children from six to fourteen years old. Parents should be quick to see the positive benefits of Pokemon for their children by looking beyond the promotional craze.
While Pokemon mania is seizing the attention of kids across the nation, kid’s culture has been doing this for a long time. There have always been kiddy crazes. For example, in the 50’s the hit television show Davy Crockett set off a coonskin cap craze. During the 60’s, children everywhere watched Howdy Doody religiously while sending off for prizes and joining his club. In the 70’s kids were crazy for Puff n Stuff fully equipped with the latest metal lunchbox illustrating their passion. Little blue elves called the Smurfs dominated the 80’s. While in the 90’s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers lit up the media and cash registers. Today’s children are no different than of days gone by. Tim Burke, a cultural history professor and author of Growing Up with Cartoon Culture, says, “Pokemon is a cultural phenomenon not just a toy fad. It’s an amazing piece of alchemy, the way one tie-in has seamlessly led to another...Pokemon has set a new standard” (Maurstad.) Parents should recognize that Pokemon is a fundamental part of childhood just as their favorite cartoon character was an important part of theirs.
For the Pokemon illiterate parent, understanding the origin of Pokemon can be as confusing as answering the proverbial question-which came first the chicken or the egg? Despite the publicity generated by the trading cards, the heart of Pokemon is a game cartridge for the Nintendo Game Boy. Pokemon began in Japan in 1996 and the game has swept across the United States at an accelerated speed. The game takes place in an imaginary land inhabited by 150 creatures called Pokemon, which translates to pocket monsters. The object of the game is for the player, called a trainer, to catch as many of the creatures as he or she can, hence the slogan “Gotta Catch ‘Em All.” Once caught, the creatures catch other Pokemon and the trainer receives badges in hopes of becoming a Pokemon master. Interestingly, Pokemon do not die in battles. They simple fall asleep or faint at which time they are taken to the Pokemon Center where they can be restored. Parents should recognize that Pokemon is a game of strategy not blood and guts.
Unfortunately, parents across the country become overly concerned when they hear the term pocket monsters. Ebeneezer Smith, a pastor from the Landover Baptist Church in Iowa, claims, “Pokemon toys and games are only sugar coated instruments of the occult and evil” (Landover.) To drive home his point, the pastor burned Pokemon trading cards and videos with a blowtorch while the congregation chanted, “burn it, chop it and kill them all.” Granted monsters make