Gotta Free ‘Em All?


PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal rights group, or at least claims to be. This is a picture from their most recent campaign. They are targeting the video game series, Pokemon. Their campaign is accusing the game of promoting the “unethical” treatment of Pokemon by forcing them to compete in Pokemon battles and housing them in Pokeballs. It would seem that they believe this is sending a violent message to the individuals who play the Pokemon games. For those of you who would like to see for yourself, here is the website.

That website features a spin-off Pokemon game. I’m not proud to admit it, but I did play through the whole game (it was about 15 minutes long) as I’m not one to give my opinion on something unless I know what I’m giving my opinion about. But anyway, you start off playing as Pikachu who just recently claimed its independence for a Pokemon trainer named Cheren. Once you beat Cheren, Pikachu talks about how Pokemon are not theirs to abuse, they exist for their own reasons. You then go on to fight different trainers and recruit different Pokemon along the way. You also gain these “treasure chests” a few times. These treasure chests contain typical PETA style videos of animal slaughter houses and animals being treated inhumanly.

When I first saw the image above, I thought it was a joke. I honestly didn’t believe it was real, until I went to PETA’s website. Now, I can’t say I’m surprised, since I’ve only ever heard negative things about PETA (like throwing fake blood on people’s fur coats). But that got me thinking, “Why are the only things I’ve ever heard about PETA, an organization founded on a really great idea, all negative?” It’s unfortunate, really.

I see a few problems with this Ad Campaign, some blatantly wrong and others a little more subtle. First and foremost, it’s borderline copyright infringement and it downright slanders the name of Pokemon. This is wrong in and of itself. Now, in the grand scheme of things, it probably won’t hurt Nintendo a whole lot. At this point, a lot of Pokemon fans (like myself) have been playing for a decade or longer and the rest of the fans are typically going to be children and young teens, so this ad campaign likely won’t reach them or mean much to them if they do see it. Now, you might get some angry parents here and there who will see this campaign and won’t let their kids play it because of it, but for the most part, those who were going to play this game or want to are still going to. That’s not the point, though. The point is that PETA is sending a lot of negativity out into the universe for seemingly no reason at all.

Ash and Pikachu

On top of slandering the name of Pokemon, they do it with false information. They skew what Pokemon is and spin it in a way that makes Pokemon sound like it’s sending a bad message to children (to those who know nothing about the game, that is). They’re stating that Pokemon are treated unfairly, forced to fight against their will and caged in tiny Pokeballs. Well, when you put it that way, coupled with zero knowledge of the game, you could easily make an argument for this campaign. That’s all wrong though. These “issues” have all been brought up in the game. It’s a well known fact in the Pokemon universe that Pokeballs don’t harm the Pokemon, that the Pokemon are not miserable when they battle alongside their trainers. They enjoy it, actually (assuming their relationship with their trainer is good). The truth is,  the relationship between a Pokemon and the trainer who caught that Pokemon can be compared to a relationship between a man and his dog. It’s a companionship. The Pokemon Anime continuously, in every single episode, portrays the incredibly strong bond between Pokemon and humans.

Another problem with PETA skewing facts to make them sound wrong (to those who don’t know the game) is the fact that PETA does know the game. They know it pretty well, actually. They had to have played through a decent amount of the game to fairly accurately mimic the game, it’s mechanics and the story (not to imply that they’ve made some great game, but they copied it pretty well). And, despite knowing the story, they also openly and proudly support Team Plasma, the antagonist of Pokemon Black and White (and their sequels). PETA knows that what they’re saying is false and slanderous, yet they still lie about the game to make it look like it’s supporting the unethical treatment of animals. This shows a lot about PETA’s true character. It shows that they are intentionally creating this negativity.

It might sound like I’m angry about this, but I’m not. Honestly. I don’t believe this will hurt Nintendo or the Pokemon name at all, because they’ve done nothing wrong and quite frankly, the Pokemon series is incredible. It wouldn’t have survived the last 20 years if it wasn’t. The reason I wrote this is because this ad campaign demonstrates a universal and fundamental problem with the world. The fact is, PETA is a really well known organization. They have the power to make change. They have the power to influence people to do good things, to spread profound levels of positivity throughout the world. They don’t, though. They created a problem that didn’t need to be there and are now focusing their attention and resources on that self-created problem. They aren’t the only ones, though. We as humans tend to create problems for ourselves. We create negativity, then try to combat that negativity with more negativity. Contrary to the popular saying, however, fighting fire with fire only creates more fire.

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3 thoughts on “Gotta Free ‘Em All?

  1. Abby says:

    You said it perfect. “They have the power to make change. They have the power to influence people to do good things, to spread profound levels of positivity throughout the world. They don’t, though.” So true and maybe in the future this will be something they consider for their next campaign.

  2. Leslie says:

    Very well said Son, and I definitely agree with the fundamental premise that fighting negativity with negativity will usually perpetuate the problem.

    But there is a method to the PETA madness. Their ad campaigns are intentionally shocking and controversial. They get a lot more attention because of it, and in the process are making more people aware of and shining a brighter light on the many horrible animal abuses that they are fighting to stop.

    They are not trying to make friends… they are trying to make as many people aware of the many animal abuses that are always so easily swept under the rug and ignored by the masses.

    The sad truth is, we live in a world that is incredibly cruel in so many ways.. And PETA has learned that they get the message out to many more people by being antagonistic and controversial… otherwise they are much more likely to be ‘swept under the rug’ and ignored as an inconvenient truth.

    You can be sure that PETA continues to take the controversial road because they have found that they receive more support and donations toward their cause than criticisms.

    The Pokemon campaign serves two purposes… reaching a younger audience…and their parents. And the controversy has more people talking about their cause.

    While I agree with you that they go too far and get criticized by many in the process… I hope that more people become aware of their cause because of it.

    Their point is… animal abuse is so shocking and horrible that they have to mimic and mock the horrible behavior to get as much attention as possible put on it.

    I’m not disagreeing with your analysis but just putting out another perspective to consider.

    • bettermebetterhumanity says:

      That’s actually a very interesting way to look at it and it definitely makes sense. If that is the case, it’s unfortunate that they feel this is the only way to accomplish their goal. There’s simply too much negativity in this world as it is.

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