Monday, July 02, 2007

Harry Potter and Pokemon...It's Da Deh-boh! *

Every time someone comes with some idea that some modern fad or pop culture idea is somehow "evil" without any real knowledge or discussion on the subject, I hear Kathy Bates' voice in my head from "Waterboy". No, I don't think that people who don't have time to really investigate whether things like that are objectively bad for their children are ignorant, but I do think that it's not right to spread lies or rumors about things which you really don't know anything about.

For instance:
Let's say there was a new lip product from Revlon that you really liked. It was your favorite and you bought three at a time because you liked it so much. Now, you recommended it to a friend because you thought she would look pretty in that color and your friend said, "Whoa, I heard one time that that color/brand was owned by someone who worships satan and sacrifices small animals in the making of the lipstick, that's where they got the color from...animal blood!!!" (I know this is a dramatic example, but it's really not that far off!).
You could be charitable to your friend and say something like, "Well, I don't know about that so I'll have to do some research and when I find out the truth, I'll give you a call!". Another response could be just to do nothing at all, don't say anything bad or good about the subject until you have the time to check it out for yourself. The response I like least is to just believe the friend and tell everyone you know when the subject comes up, what others have told you as a warning to them. You know how some people (a lot of people I know included) just buy the line that sounds more dramatic and go with their "feelings" and the onslaught of rumor or scandal that well-meaning people perpetuate in the name of rooting all of the evil out of their lives.

I never thought it was fair that fundamentalist/evangelical (not all) Christians started a campaign against Harry Potter (which leaked over to us Catholics), many of them never having read the books. I really sat there after reading the first book wondering what all the fuss was about. I had article after article shoved in my face (from those well-intentioned friends) about how HP was EVIL, the author was a satan worshiper, if you let your kids read HP, they will start to follow the devil, etc. etc.. I Just couldn't see it, then or now. I was reading the The Chronicles of Narnia again, recently and wondered how much hubub that series must have caused at the time among Christians? I never researched it or anything, but it would be interesting to see if there was controversy.

I have to say that I think that series is excellent but there are many more references to magic and evil, violence and revenge, disobedience against adults etc. (you know, all the things that people are against HP for) and I just can't square it at all. I won't expose the children to things they aren't ready for or don't understand, (i.e. I won't bring the little ones to the new HP movie or read HP3rd book to the ones under 7) but I will let them read all the books if they want when they are of proper age.
I discussed this a little on this blog post of a review of a new book by a VERY devout, Catholic, homeschooling mother.
Holly Pierlot, a homeschooling mother who wrote a book that I read about home organization called, A Mother's Rule of Life (which was very good), wrote a comment that pretty much sums up what most of the mothers in my homeschool group and friend network go with every time HP is brought up... (not a direct quote:)"The POPE says it's bad, we shouldn't read it!" (that has been proven to be an incorrect assessment of a private letter turned public for dubious reasons). Anyway, I think I've made my point about HP so on to Pokemon...

I've never heard any anti-christian stuff about Pokemon and only objected to the cards because it seemed an expensive and wasteful hobby/game and it bugged me that it was such a "fad" and I hate it when my kids go with the flow and do what ever everyone else does (my rebellious nature, I admit). Also, I hated the dumb Japanese cartoons where the mouths don't match the words and the songs and voices are LAME. A long time ago (before the kids were born) we lived in an apartment and one day I saw these two, little boys in an upstairs stairwell concentrating on two decks of cards with strange things on them. When I asked them what they were doing, they told me all about the game and cards and what the goals were and how to trade them. I didn't have any children, but I loved children and thought it was so cute that they were so serious about a game.

It made me think back to how serious a simple game of tag could become when I was little and how much things changed when we became mature, jaded adults! Fast forward to about January of this year. The neighbor kids had old Pokemon cards and were casually involved in the fad and my kids started asking for cards and card holding books (I still can't stand the cartoons, but that's just a matter of taste and not content!). So I did it. I gave in and let them use their allowance and extra money on Pokemon cards and they have really done well with it. They started this thing where they draw their own "Pokemon guys" and use their imaginations so well! They use colored pencils to draw Pokemon from the cards and Katrina has gotten quite good at it:

(on a side note, did you notice the closeup one is called "plusle" and is covered in plus signs, seriously, what could be more positive? Well, there's also "minun" who has minus signs but he's really cute, too!).

Well, bigotry has reared it's ugly head yet again. The kids heard from a friend that Pokemon was developed by a person who worships the devil. Now, that might not be what that parent believes but that's how their child read it and that's now what they believe that their good friends are involved in. I would be horrified if my children went to a friend's house and the parents let them watch rated R movies without my permission because they "didn't think it was so bad" for their own children...but I KNOW that rated R movies are objectively inappropriate for my children. It's common sense and I've actually seen what Hollywood deems too inappropriate for children. I understand where parents are coming from when they don't allow their children to play at friend's houses who don't agree with their morals for their children. I would never push HP or Pokemon or any other thing like that on my children's friends but I hate that my own children are made to feel like lepers because I refuse to be duped by the anti-everything lobby who won't/can't check things out for themselves.

If my friend preferred no TV while their child was here, or no viewing of a certain movie, I would totally respect that. I think and believe all the same things about the Church that they do but for some reason, we can't have a rational discussion about this stuff (well, to be fair, it's not really on topic most times and we all have lots of kids to attend to all the time!) I hope that my friends know that I love their children with all my heart and treat them as if they were my own and would never expose them to anything immoral any more than I would my own. We really are trying to raise saints here. We are all in this together and I hope someday we can agree on what's truly important and what's just passing through and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I really believe that HP or Pokemon don't have power or influence over our lives any more than the refrigerator or the carpeting does and that the Lord is in this house and protecting us from all evil.

*more about actual themes from HP here