Regular readers of this blog (all six of you) will know that I am the father of a bright ten year old, who being a ten year old is subject to all the whims and fads of his peer group. For a (fairly long) while, one of those fads was a card game called Pokemon (link here to Wikipedia entry) -- a game whose arcane intricacy I never figured out. Additionally, there was a television show. And merchandise. Oh yes, merchandise -- enough lunch boxes and knapsacks and figurines and stuffed animals and all kinds of other (expensive) goodies, all designed to separate the child's parent's money from the child's parent. While the game and its surrounding hype were annoying mass media junk, the concept as a whole had a certain elegance in its exploitation of obsessive-compulsive “collect ‘em all” tendencies in children. Not that I would have any understanding of obsessive-compulsive “collect ‘em all” tendencies.
So you can imagine my horror when I learned that by allowing my son to have exposure to Pokemon cards and Pokemon paraphernalia, I have made it possible for him to learn how to enter into the world of witchcraft, how to cast spells, how to use psychic phenomena, how to work supernatural powers against his enemies , and worst of all, how to fantasy role play! I guess it is because "everything in life is real" that I need to take this seriously. Or perhaps not.
The list of Pokemon bad things begins at around 1:15. As a parent, I am pretty concerned about my son needing to work supernatural powers against his enemies. In his one experience with a bully, he was miserable for weeks because he didn't want to punch the other kid, which I am sorry to say would have been my response. He finally got the other kid to stop by talking to him about it, and convincing the other kid through reason that the harassment needed to stop. But I can see how with access to supernatural powers, he would have totally just zapped the other kid instead of applying will and courage and resolve to deal with this problem. Because kids would do that, when they aren't pumping their friends full of bullets with their handguns.
I also had issues with the logic behind why the Pokemon concept was both as corrupting as he says, and was also as effective a training tool as he says. If the latter were true, I would have expected to have absorbed enough of this knowledge during hours of watching Pokemon with my son to have the ability to use this methodology to make myself a superstar of corporate training. The fact that I am not an incredibly wealthy corporate training guru should tell you something.
In order to assuage my concerns, I hauled N1S (Number 1 Son) in front of the monitor, played back the video and watched his reaction, which went from basically neutral to astonishment to outright hostility. His response -- "He's crazy. I know the difference between fantasy and reality. I would never shoot my friends with a real gun. This guy is really stupid."
So, there you have it, from a ten (well, technically almost eleven) year old boy: "This guy is really stupid". I can't express it better myself. I wonder if this guy knows Pat Robertson? They surely belong together.
The truly sad thing about this are the people in the audience, who have all apparently turned off their capacity for critical thinking and for asking questions. Around about the mention of "witchcraft", I would have been walking out. Demagogues of this ilk have existed in every age, but their power comes from those who follow unthinkingly, or who remain silent in the face of nonsense.