Monday, October 21, 2013

Poke-stalgia: Reflecting on Pokemon and Savoring Consumerism






Anyone else miss pokemon? You know who does? This guy. All 150 of the original ones. I couldn't care less about the ones after that. But I was so in love with that initial batch of the alien freaks that the humans of Poke-world enslaved and continually pitted against one another in an unending quest to be the best...like no one ever was. Those guys were awesome.

Every weekend, my mom would drive me and my brothers to Toys R Us. We were adolescents, so of course we were too cool for the kids games or action figures. No, no. Those things were silly. Rather than blowing our money on useless things like that, we spent our not-so-hard-earned allowance on $3.99 packs of 10 cards of these fake creatures. We would trade and get into huge fights over who deserved what. The rule in our family was, if you got mad enough, eventually you'd end up with what you wanted. The secret was to get as mad as you possibly could and then have a magical epiphany that your other sibling deserved it. Then, they'd hand whatever it was right over, no questions asked. This is how my brother ended up with all the Oddishes:


For some reason that me and my other brother couldn't possibly understand, he had to have all the fucking Oddishes. For those who aren't into Pokemon (and if you aren't, I don't understand why you got this far in the post), Oddishes aren't rare at all. They're like weeds that you find as you're looking for something awesome. Nevertheless, he had to have them all, and he wouldn't take no for an answer. This became more problematic when me and my brother started withholding them just because we knew that he needed them so desperately. But we learned very quickly that one does not deprive a Heathcliff of his Catherine unless one wants to suffer great consequences. Oh, brotherly love.

I want you to consider this: the whole point of this being a trading card game was to fight with them. They all have skills and a certain amount of life that you subtract and add to with other cards. But me and my brothers never actually played that game. We just collected the cards. Right?! What the fuck? As you can probably tell (and anyone who got sucked into these guys probably knows already), this was a cruel addiction that prepared my generation for Apple products and Starbucks. It's quite appropriate because, like with Apple and Starbucks, though we were young, we knew that we had an irrational need for these things that had no real addictive quality to them (Starbucks, of course, has caffeine, but we should note that there are plenty of easy ways of acquiring that without needing the brand Starbucks). We were obsessed, and being groomed to be the best consumers in the world! And I believe that my generation represents a great generation of vapid, illogical consumerism. Continually, I'll hear my friends referencing how they feel that companies like Apple and Google are rapidly taking over and encouraging us to blindly consume whatever they put out. Of course, no one actively wants to fight this (I don't really think I do, even). It's like with Pokemon. We knew they just wanted our money, but we'd been sucked in...and we just kept on buying. Today, we do the same thing, recognizing the money-making nature of the business, but also savoring the joy that we find in being consumers to these mega-conglomerates. We really do gotta catch 'em all, because we want to be the very best, like no one ever was. And the latest iPad, iPhone, Chai Latte will do just that...Right? Right?!