Last year, with the arrival of Super Mario 3D Land, PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — launched a campaign against Mario, on the grounds that his Tanooki suit encouraged the wearing of furs. It was a widely criticised move, as it disregarded the sheer fantasy of obtaining the suit from a magical leaf, rather than from an act of stomping an actual tanooki animal, for example. It came across as opportunistic, ill-advised and badly informed.
PETA has targeted Nintendo once again, however, on this occasion with a Pokémon Black & White 2 parody that's already getting picked up on social networks. This time around it's a short flash-based game with four well-known 'mon teaming up and fighting back against their trainers, with the twist also applying to Team Plasma at the conclusion. As PETA sees it, the Pokémon franchise is a portrayal of imprisoning creatures to be used for nefarious purposes, be that for food, skins, entertainment or fighting.
The amount of time that Pokémon spend stuffed in pokéballs is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to "perform" in circuses. But the difference between real life and this fictional world full of organized animal fighting is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible.
"If PETA existed in Unova, our motto would be: Pokémon are not ours to use or abuse. They exist for their own reasons. We believe that this is the message that should be sent to children." — Team PETA
The question is whether this is another irrational and petty campaign, or whether PETA has a valid point to make. It's interesting to note that the purpose of Pokémon is to capture and train creatures to fight, even if there is a storyline and goal behind that. A counter-argument is that there's a big difference between playing a Pokémon game and being a participant in animal cruelty, of course, so it's a question of how literally anyone, especially children, actually takes the concept behind the series.
Perhaps this one isn't as cut-and-dried, in terms of whether it's nonsense, as PETA's Mario campaign. What do you think? Is PETA running another frivolous campaign to gain attention, or is it tackling an underlying theme in Pokémon that's representative of uglier real-life cruelties? Sound off in the comments below.