Pokémon: Pocket Monsters Or Pocket Slaves? An Exposé

May 17, 2018 by
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We all love Pokémon; it’s a universal fact. Everyone from the youngest of kids to the oldest of professors has been swept up in the Pokémon craze since time immemorial. So who doesn’t love Pokémon? Well, for starters, the Pokémon.

pokémon slaves

Imagine this: You’re a Butterfree, floating along on a cool spring breeze. You’ve not a care in the world as you glide and soar, and then THWACKKKKKKKKKK. Suddenly, what was once blue sky and green hills is now a black void, suffocating, endless, and cold. No answers, no one to beg for your life. No way of telling your family you love them one last time. Nothingness.

After what seems like an eternity – SNAPPPPPPP – your coffin of darkness has been wrenched open by a cacophony of light, sound, and screaming, and then someone you’ve never met before is shouting your species at you and telling you to fight for your very life. DEMANDING you to fight. You were just a happy Butterfree minding your own business, and now you’re some kind of gladiator?

pokémon slaves

This is the life that wild Pokémon face every day. The risk they take by just existing. Butterfree was but a mere example of the myriad Pokémon species captured on a daily basis and forced into a life of indentured pugilism. Why is Pokémon capture and battling regarded as a sport rather than the barbaric and archaic exercise in violence and cruelty that is truly is?

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Just this year alone, the Pokémon Preservation Society has added three new species to its critically endangered list: Dewgongs, Lickitungs, and Miltanks. This writer is sad to report that just six weeks ago, the last Mr. Mime outside of captivity was captured and subsequently died in battle against a Lapras on the outskirts of Viridian City.

Honestly, that’s barely skimming the surface of the outdated and frankly disgusting practices that are still standard in Pokémon training. Pokeballs are getting smaller and shoddier as labor and raw materials are being sourced overseas in the Johto region, and recent reports indicate that some Pokemon are even beginning to develop what experts have assessed as mercury poisoning due to dangerous chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

It’s also time we discussed the not nearly controversial enough subject of forced evolutions. In today’s world, when a kid gets bored with his Pichu, his parents just go down to the local PokéMart and buy enough Rare Candy to make their child its own Pikachu within the hour. And when said child bores of his Pikachu? Well, it’s another quick hop down to the mart and suddenly there’s a Raichu in the family. But what happens when Raichu is yesterday’s news? Fully evolved Pokémon are being abandoned in record numbers. I myself passed a disabled Graveler on my way to work today, begging for EXP, clearly not proud of what he’d become.

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Until we as the public STOP supporting Pokémon training, capturing, and battling FULL-OUT, then this systemic culture of abuse and torment will be allowed to continue. Do not watch televised Pokémon battles, do not attend arena shows, and by all means, if you currently have any Pokémon trapped in a spherical pocket prison: SET THEM FREE.

Isn’t it time we replaced our posters glorifying the Elite Four with wanted posters of the same criminals? Don’t Pokémon deserve the same natural freedoms as you and I? To live, love, and not be captured by a stranger with a good throwing arm?

Our organization, Team Rocket, has always stood for a few simple things: Protecting the world from devastation, uniting all people within our nation, denouncing the evils of truth and love, and extending our reach to the stars above. With your charitable donation, we can help further our cause of Pokémon liberation throughout the world. Also, we need repairs on our blimp.

Thank you for your time and attention to this very important issue.

pokemon slavery pocket slaves

IMAGES: Pokémon wiki, Pokémon.com, Redbubble


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4 Comments

  1. Pokemon has been a cultural phenomenon for over twenty years now. It has become a franchised by young people since its first inception into the consciousness of the public. It is easy to not be able to view something that is a phenomena critically, except in the instances or moral issues. For those that grew up with Pokemon it was at its most essential a show about a kid who catches and trains monsters to battle with. The concept of the game is that you set out on your own adventure using Poke Balls to capture pokemon, the easiest way is to battle a one of your pokemon with the wild one to weaken it before capture. Once a monster is caught it is then trained by the pokemon trainer. With the general mission of most people to battle Gym Leaders and become the Champion. Pokemon once captured have little to no say in their training or freedom, when not in use they are confined to the pokeball. Another important aspect of Pokemon is that there are some pokemon that are extremely rare, sometimes there is only one instance in which you are able to get that pokemon, and if missed there is no second chance. This rarity within the game creates an interesting commodity within the pokemon themselves. Pokemon are not only the proletariat but are a commodity within themselves, which warps and determines exchange and use values.

    It can be argued that within the canon of Pokemon that the pokemon are not a representation of the proletariat as Marx defines it. The pokemon are not creating a product to be directly sold in benefit of the pokemon itself, they are being exploited for their labor, which is capitalist.But, pokmon are the commodity themselves. They do not create a commodity to be sold but are the commodity because of the individualized training and unique specialization they each receive. WIthin their training they learn a certain set of abilities they use. But the pokemon receive no compensation for their labor power, which closely resembles slavery. But since the pokemon are not considered fully intelligent beings similar to humans they, within the world never would receive money therefore saying that they are slaves is incorrect. The pokemon are not in control of their training or ability set, therefore there is alienation with the commodity of them as objects used for battle. They also have no access to the means of production which in the case of pokemon is the battling. When a trainer battles in Pokemon it is specifically for money or in the event of gym battles for the attainment of a step on the ladder of high social strata. Pokemon only posses their labor power, this control is exemplified when a trainer is not able to control the pokemon. The only time this lack of control is present is when the pokemon out levels its trainers capabilities. The capabilities of trainers are reliant on the number of badges they have won from gym leaders. The badges represent the social hierarchy, with the greater amount of badges the higher the social standing of the trainer. This imparts on the trainer the ability to control greater number and greater value of pokemon.

    Trainers within the game represent the Bourgeois, they control the means of production, which within the universe of Pokemon is the ability to train pokemon. Even the pokemon themselves fall into this hegemony. They are themselves a form of ideological state apparatus. Pokemon often look down on pokemon without trainers and find themselves there betters. This makes the wild, uncaptured, pokemon desire to be captured. This false consciousness incentivises the pokemon into being captured. When the pokemon believes that they are better off if captured they impose onto themselves a form of commodity fetishism. Since pokemon are both the working class and the commodity they find themselves in a sort of interplay between the two ideas. Pokemon through the ISA’s within the world, such as other pokemon and trainers, start to believe that there is a magical of inherent magical quality about having been captured. The capture device is known as a PokeBall. The authors of Marx’s Ontology of the Praxis-Relations of Social Production state that “commodity fetishism, and commodity fetishism covers up the following truth, that is, the worship of commodities (things), especially of a commodity like gold products, is not actually caused by the natural properties of the commodity (gold), but the social
    properties”(Yu Wujin and Kong Hui 412). This the reflected in Pokemon because of the social standing and importance having a rare or particularly powerful pokemon can bring.

    Pokeballs make up the major part of the material conditions of the world of Pokemon. The pokeball both within the fictional world of Pokemon and the “real” world has become to be known as a sign of Pokemon. But, within the world of Pokemon these capture devices are everywhere, some even being rare themselves. The rare pokeballs have no use value as they are only aesthetic but their exchange value can be high within the trading system. Harold Rosenberg states that “here the specific “materialistic connections” of capitalism have produced two “definite social characters,” the capitalist and the wage worker. Having imposed themselves upon individual human beings and made them identical with one another, these seem prepared to play their historical parts”(Rosenberg 597), and we see this in pokemon in the dialectic between trainer and their pokemon. It would seem to be that the material conditions of the world of Pokemon facilitate these two classes playing their historical parts. The only time there is the questioning of the hegemonic state is when we get the semi-speaking (through telepathy) pokemon Mewtwo, who is the antithesis to what the trainer is.

    In scene in Pokemon Mewtwo is taking the means of labor from his creators
    “Kasumi: Are you stealing other people’s Pokémon?
    Mewtwo: Stealing? No. I’m making copies stronger than the Pokémon you’re so proud of.
    Takeshi: Copies?
    Satoshi: Stop it! That’s against the rules!
    Mewtwo: Don’t give me orders.
    Mewtwo: I’ll decide my own rules.” ( Kusake et al, 67)
    Mewtwo within this scene is taking back the power of labor by creating his own pokemon. His creation of pokemon is his taking back power of labor also he is creating a new commodity which he controls. This in turn is a form of exploitation on the new pokemon. But is important to note that this becomes the synthesis, it is the proletariat overthrowing the current bourgeois. “At an advanced stage of this development, “the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production. .. . From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetter. Then begins an era of social
    Revolution” (Kain 515) a claim that suggests that if we assume that the creation and life of Mewtwo is the most advanced stage of pokemon breeding and training then it apparent how necessary it was for Mewtwo to to engage in the conflict with the “existing relations of production” which are the trainers. But, it can be argued that Mewtwo himself does not understand that he himself is at fault for the treatment of other pokemon the same way the trainers are. Mewtwo is an intellectual among other pokemon, and is the only Pokemon that can speak with humans in english. The article Intellectuals and Class Struggle suggests that “if intellectuals want to take part in the class struggle, it is necessary that they intellectually grasp their sociological composition as a whole, determined by material conditions. Their frequent claim that it is necessary to immerse oneself into the proletariat is counter-revolutionary” (Brecht 20). Since Mewtwo was a lab created pokemon he does not understand the material conditions of this world and has not been immersed in them. Mewtwo has never spent time in a pokeball or being trained through constant battling. This is why it is easy for him to become the same as the trainers and start to exploit other pokemon.

    .

    Works Cited
    Kusaka, Hidenori, Satoshi Yamamoto, Annette Roman, Tetsuichiro Miyaki, and Susan Daigle-Leach. Pokemon. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media, 2011. Print.

    Wujin, Yu, and Kong Hui. “Marx’s Ontology of the Praxis-Relations of Social Production.” Frontiers of Philosophy in China, vol. 4, no. 3, 2009, pp. 400–416. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40343934.

    Rosenberg, Harold. “The Pathos of the Proletariat.” The Kenyon Review, vol. 11, no. 4, 1949, pp. 595–629. JSTOR

    Kain, Philip J. “Estrangement and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” Political Theory, vol. 7, no. 4, 1979, pp. 509–520. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/191164.

    Brecht, Bertolt, and David Bathrick. “Intellectuals and Class Struggle.” New German Critique, no. 1, 1973, pp. 19–21. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/487627.

  2. Oh my gosh, that’s brilliant!! Unexpected Team Rocket pitch!

    Now I’m sitting at my desk with my coworkers wondering why I just burst out in laughter….

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