Pokémon is the Devil! (And Other Satanic Moral Panic)
Pokemon is satanic!
People are afraid of what they don't understand. Oftentimes, these are things that seem exotic or alien to adults, but that are ironically so universal that children seem to pick it up just fine.
I'm talking about, of course, the little things that have been rabidly denounced as evil by uninformed fundamentalists and over-protective parents alike: Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon, Harry Potter, etc. It seems like every time children or teenagers happen upon something that many of them find unusually fun, it makes adults suspicious that there just HAS to be something sinister behind it for it to be so popular. Perish the thought that something might actually be more entertaining than schoolwork and church, enough to distract them--that's just simply impossible!
Dropping the sarcasm a bit, let's examine some of the common traits of this kind of moral panic, and why it's unfounded B.S.
The people speaking out against it very clearly know little about what they're attacking.
It's dead clear that many of these tracts and pamphlets are made by people who know little about what they're talking about for an audience who knows even less. It's very obvious these people have never watched, read, played whatever work they're denouncing as evil, and often get basic facts about just the material in the work (not the interpretation or assessment of the material, just the basic material itself) completely wrong.
An example, from an anti-Pokémon pamphlet:
"Pok[e]mon has supernatural powers. 'Some Pok[e]mon grow, or evolve.' This is facilitated by the 'Energy cards' that 'make your Pok[e]mon bigger and more powerful.' And what is the source of this power? It is the pantheistic power of the occult, not the supernatural power of God."
Pantheistic power aside, this person clearly doesn't know how to play the Pokémon card game and doesn't at the very least understand the basic idea of what energy cards are for, which anyone who has played the game even casually, even just once, would know. If this person hasn't played the game, even once, by what standard can he blather on and on about the moral bankruptcy of the game? How the heck does he even clearly know what the game is about if he's never played it? Exactly: He doesn't. This same pamphlet is filled with many more inaccuracies akin to and even more blatant than this one that are too numerous to go over here.
The producer of anti-[insert thing kids love] propaganda can get away with this misinformation because he knows his audience consists of parents who are (also) totally clueless about what is actually in the media their children consume, and would rather have another adult who (also) doesn't know anything about it tell them than spend time finding out for themselves.
They are prone to exaggeration.
If the things they were speaking against were really that bad to begin with, why would they need to exaggerate facts? They do it precisely because there's nothing threatening at all and it's hard to make cartoons and books and games sound evil and satanic unless you make little things sound way more relevant than they actually are.
I mean, have you ever read a Chick pamphlet? Oh, no, Dungeons and Dragons will lead you to a life of witchcraft with SATAN!:
They'll grab at any source, however dubious, to prove their pre-formed point.
There was a chain e-mail floating around--you know the kind--that accused J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, of brainwashing children into getting into witchcraft and even quoted her saying some awful and downright blasphemous things. In fact, the quotes were so inflammatory and ridiculous, you might have thought that she had never said them at all and that it was in fact satire...
...And you'd be right. It was from a fake article by the famously satirical newspaper The Onion.
But that didn't stop whoever started this chain e-mail, quoting her as if she had seriously said these things, that she was a devout and rabid Satanist, and that Harry Potter was a Satanic masterpiece. So long as it proves your point, who cares whether it's credible, right?
When your position is so removed from reality, it's not surprising that you'd have to turn to chain mail and unfounded rumor as your supporting evidence.
They have no knowledge about the culture from which any given imported game, TV show, or book series came, besides stereotypes.
In the case of Pokémon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc, there's a common tendency by these people to draw on the audience's pre-formed fears that pair "other cultures," especially "Asian" ones, with "the occult." As if 1) "Asian" is one culture and all Asian religions and customs are the same and 2) Asian countries, like Japan, aren't industrialized or something, and they still live in a mythical katana-wielding, spirit-worshiping, "occult" society.
The truth is, Japan, specifically, is a very industrialized country just like the United States and most European countries, and the average person is not prone to any occult practices any more than the average person in Western society. In fact, most people in Japan are atheist--they don't believe in the supernatural at all.
A lot of people's fear response appears to come from cultural misunderstanding of material in the work. In Pokémon, for example, a lot of the creatures are mashups of characters and animals from Japanese legend, not satanic symbols conceived just to hypnotize American children into worshiping Satan and forgetting all about Jesus.
Pokémon is satanic? If you stop for a second, that proposition doesn't even make any sense. Where was this work first produced and for what audience? In Japan and for the Japanese. Roughly how many Japanese are Christian? About 1% of the population.
Geez, that's a lot of work to put into a work whose sole purpose is only to brainwash the 1% the of population that actually believes in Jesus into not believing in Jesus.
So basically what I'm saying is works like Pokémon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh (and Bakugan, for that matter) were created in a country where Christianity practically doesn't exist. What would be the point of putting that much effort into turning the whole populace away from God? They already are! Almost everyone's already going to hell, so who cares right?
Yes, it was imported eventually to other countries, including the United States, but this is typical of highly successful anime. Why not make more money from more people? The intended audience of the work, however, were not specifically Americans. If that had been so, why didn't they just produce the show in English and start brainwashing people's Christian children from the beginning? It makes no sense.
"Fantasy IS reality to everyone, because it is to me."
If you have one book, only one, that you primarily read, over and over, and that is filled with supernatural events and that you believe to be the truth, you can often lose sight of the fact that the works of fantasy or supernatural occurrences that other people read about are not taken literally by them.
People who read Harry Potter do not take it literally, like they do the Bible. For some people, for some reason, this seems hard to fathom. The majority of people, in regards to a majority of books and fictional works, can separate reality from fantasy just fine. Even Children, once they've reached a certain (very young) age, can do this easily.
Why do these tract-pushers seem to not trust people to know the difference between make-believe and what's real, then? What is it--projection of their own insecurities or what?
In the process of all this, they've built a vast array of straw men out of every "next big thing" that children might take a liking to. With their cynicism and suspicion, they've tried to teach children that everything good is secretly bad, that anything that brings them joy has something evil lurking beneath the surface.
Why Does it Matter?
Lost opportunities. You know how many children honed their reading skills with Harry Potter, or by playing Pokémon for hours on end?
Sure, too much is bad for your eyes, probably, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason it should be bad for your soul. If it encourages children to learn (without realizing it) and gives them something to do during their teacher's boring lectures, how can one really object?
More importantly, I don't think it's good for children--or for anyone, really--to have the world-view that evil is constantly lurking around the corner, in sheep's clothing, ready to seduce you into a web of satanic lies in the form of a fun book or game.
Living in fear is not psychologically healthy.
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