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The Anti-Capitalist Parents Guide to Pokémon

I am pleased to announce the global availability of "The Anti-Capitalist Parents Guide to Pokémon".

This project germinated during the Elemental Adventures summer camp on Maui in 2023. Every morning our kids would show up to camp with treasured binders full of Pokémon cards, not to play, but to trade. Pokémon trades were a constant focal point for conversation.

When asked, "Why do you collect Pokémon cards?" the surprising answer was to sell them back to the card shop at a profit.

I was struck by the sheer power and dominance of Pokémon as marketplace, rather than a game, and the importance it held for some kids as a vehicle for wealth creation. Car rides and free time were consumed by talk of what a card was worth. I realized Pikachu was the chief avatar for a kid-centered stock market.

Collectable cards are not a new phenomenon, but Pokémon add some troubling elements. Pokémon are not born and raised and therefore have no link to the biological cycles of the natural world. They are captured, trained, and "evolved" under forced entrapment.

Ever watchful for how popular culture shapes young minds, I feel it is important to think critically about the subtle and not-so-subtle values encoded in children's entertainment.

The Anti-Capitalist Parents Guide to Pokémon is an artifact of critique and an attempt at cultural alchemy.

Observers may find it ironic or troubling that I chose to use ChatGPT to generate the text. I personally found the application and the output to be delightful, and to my sensibilities, one of the better applications of AI-augmented creativity.

According to Audrey Lorde "The Masters Tools" will not dismantle the Masters house, but perhaps they can be used to get us onto the roof, so we might grasp an outstretched branch from an adjacent tree.

I appreciate the power of generative AI to illuminate imaginary worlds and bring abstract ideas into written and visual form, itʻs ability to provide additional lenses to help us see, interrogate and understand our own culture.

With the avatar of Michael Parenti as our guide, I invite parent and child, Pokémon fan and critic, to The Anti Capitalist Parents Guide to Pokémon:

Our Manifesto

In this guide, you'll find the tools and insights to turn every Pokémon battle into a lesson, every card trade into a dialogue, and every purchase into an opportunity for reflection. Let's embark on this Poké-revolutionary journey together!

1. Awareness

We vow to understand the underlying capitalist narratives in Pokémon and, by extension, all children's media. We shall not be blind consumers but vigilant observers.

2. Engagement

We commit to discussing these narratives with our children, fostering critical thinking and challenging the status quo.

3. Action

We advocate for communal actions that subvert the capitalist undertones of the game. We seek collaboration, sharing, and community over competition, profiteering, and individualism.

4. Revolution

We dream of a world where our children's games are not marred by capitalistic ideals. Instead, they should inspire cooperation, understanding, and kindness. And in the interim, we'll play our part to make Pokémon a tool for change.

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