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The New Ebola

Abner Senires

Don't let his subdued demeanor fool you.  When he speaks, his words resound with the thunder of a revivalist minister and his words today carry a warning. "A new disease has arrived," says Dr. Morton Kinderschiesse, "and its name is Pokémon."

Dr. Kinderschiesse, an adjacent professor of Media Studies at Nottingham Trent University in England, is author of Pokémon: The New Ebola.  Following is a transcript from an interview between Dr. Kinderschiesse and freelance journalist Jennifer Baker taped at a local radio station.

JENNIFER BAKER:  Pokémon seems so harmless.  Why do you call it a "new disease"?

KINDERSCHIESSE:  Because that's exactly what it is: a virus.  It infects our society, targets our children, warps them.  And it's for this reason that it must be promptly dealt with and eliminated from distribution.

JENNIFER: We're talking about millions of dollars being lost by the parent company--

KINDERSCHIESSE:  My dear, Miss Baker, we're talking about the health of our youngsters.  Don't let the cute characters and the equally cute names fool you.  This is a very novel, yet very alarmingly subtle attempt by a minority to subvert our children.  After all, who are Pokémon's biggest fans? Don't forget that this is the same TV series which caused seizures in several Japanese children after they viewed a scene that featured flashing lights.  Now don't you think that's a bit odd?

JENNIFER: That episode was never aired here in the United States-- 

  KINDERSCHIESSE:  All the more reason to beware.  It was pulled from broadcast for fear that the truth would be discovered.

JENNIFER: The truth?  Really now...

KINDERSCHIESSE:  Miss Baker, I am a professor of Media Studies.  I have letters after my name.  Three letters, to be exact.  It is my job to see the truth behind the façade.  

JENNIFER: The façade?

DK: The façade here is the cuteness factor.  The truth behind it, however, is downright frightening. Consider first, the premise of the series.  The main character's goal is to capture as many of these creatures--the Pokémon--as he can and then train them.  These captured Pokémon then help him in capturing other Pokémon so that he can become a "Pokémon Master."

JENNIFER: Seems harmless enough to me.

KINDERSCHIESSE:  It's the subtext that you must look at.  First of all, the capture and training of these creatures is a veiled endorsement of slavery.

JENNIFER: Oh please--!

KINDERSCHIESSE:  It's true!  Pokémon trainers?  Pokémon Masters?  Shades of Uncle Tom's Cabin!  The Pokémon become subservient to the trainer.  This master/slave relationship has sadomasochistic overtones!


KINDERSCHIESSE:  That's right.  S&M.  That taboo subject is now being broached by this show.  And I won't even start on the word "Pokémon" itself.

JENNIFER: It's just short for "pocket monster"--

KINDERSCHIESSE:  Precisely.  Pocket monster.  We're all adults here.  I think we know the reference that's being made. That's not all.  Each of these Pokémon hides a subversive message that would make very parent's blood run cold.

JENNIFER:  How can you possible get subversive messages from characters like Pikachu, Charizard, Snorlax, and Jigglypuff?

KINDERSCHIESSE:  Pikachu is a cleverly hidden pun on "peek at you," which implies the practice of voyeurism.  Also, it can be likened to the sound of a sneeze.  And what do you do when someone sneezes?

JENNIFER:  Usually, you say "bless you," but I don't see--

KINDERSCHIESSE:  Exactly.  This plays directly into societal conditioning.  We say "Bless" to the sneeze-sound, but what we are doing, in effect, is condoning this kind of sordid behavior.  We are saying that this sort of thing has our "blessing."  

JENNIFER: That's preposterous--!

KINDERSCHIESSE:  I'm not through.  Now look at Charizard.  Its primary power is the use of fire. It screams "pyromaniac." It teaches our children that it's okay to play with fire.

JENNIFER: I protest a fallacy of logic! I'm sorry, but this is a classic textbook example of a post hoc fallacy.  B was caused by A because B followed A.


JENNIFER: What did you say?

KINDERSCHIESSE:  I said, "Now consider Snorlax--"

JENNIFER: No, you didn't.


JENNIFER: No, you didn't.

KINDERSCHIESSE:  Did so infinity. Now consider Snorlax.  The name comes from two words: "Snore" and "lax."  So "Snorlax" promotes the idea of sloth, laziness, and irresponsibility.

JENNIFER: You're an idiot.  I'm leaving.

KINDERSCHIESSE:  You can't leave.  You've got to listen!  Jigglypuff is the worst of them all! It's the symbol of blatant sexuality.  Sodom and Gomorrah in a cartoon character!  "Jiggly" is slang for the action of female breasts when in motion.  Just look at those female lifeguards on Baywatch.  Running along the beach.  Jiggling.

JENNIFER: Come closer and I'll kill you.

KINDERSCHIESSE:   And "puff" is a reference to Puff the Magic Dragon which is a reference to 60s-era drug use. It points to the rising use of designer drugs like ecstacy. They use ecstacy at raves.  And who goes to raves?  Young kids.

JENNIFER: Stay back  

KINDERSCHIESSE:  A disease, I tell you!  DON'T YOU SEE THIS???  

[loud bang]

JENNIFER: Holy Christ!

At this point in the interview, Dr. Kinderschiesse's head exploded. A Pokémon trading card featuring the Jigglypuff character was later found in his nside jacket pocket. Thankfully, Miss Baker was rescued from the recording studio and is said to be recuperating very well.

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