Chapter 14: Pokemon & That “System of a Down” Song
Alright, I’m coming in hot on this edition of Notorious Notes. I’ve got Pokemon Sword in one hypothetical hand, a caffeinated beverage in the other, and my real hands are eager to talk about a matter that has been near and dear to my heart/the bane of my reddit-surfing, twitter-lurking, instagram-liking existence for that past few weeks: TOXIC FANDOMS. That’s right, since Pokemon: Sword and Shield came out this last week and the fact that this blog is loosely tied to professional wrestling, toxic fandoms might be the most appropriate topic yet.
For those unaware, there are two new Pokemon games out — Sword and Shield, that have been the topic of the biggest controversy in the series’ over twenty year history. A very vocal (likely) minority have boycotted the games pretty much since they were announced and have been on the hunt to find any shred of evidence that would reinforce their decision. What sparked all this bad faith and anger over a monster collection game targeted at children, you ask? The fact that the developer, Game Freak, made the decision to not include all 890 of the little creatures in the new games. The announcement that only some of the Pokemon from previous generations would be accessible in Sword/Shield led to aforementioned boycotts and a slew of hatred on the Pokemon-related Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter pages. #Dexit (a reference to the UK leaving the European Union, Brexit) and #GameFreakLied trended multiple times on Twitter as we drew closer to the game’s release. This maelstrom of negativity came to a head as the review embargo lifted and the game saw generally positive reviews from review websites. But review websites were not the only ones combatting the toxic community, as #ThankYouGameFreak also trended near the games’ release.
I mention all of this because I find it flabbergasting how someone can love something so long and passionately and unconditionally until they suddenly find a condition. One small thing can somehow lead to a complete 180 change in thoughts and feelings about something that once brought you so much joy. That is the definition of toxicity to me — loving something/someone until they don’t meet the impossibly high standards you have set up for them and then looking for as many reasons that they’re in the wrong as possible and shoving it in their face, even if it is very clearly not true. Looking for faults in others to justify your bad feelings instead of looking at yourself is the sign of a very insecure person.
The entitlement of Pokemon fans is extremely reminiscent of another fandom that should be very near and dear to my heart, and so often disappoints me in their toxicity — the wrestling fandom. Luckily, the Pokemon fandom has yet to pick on the minority groups that wrestling fans so vehemently insist on punching down upon, since that’s apparently how low the bar is nowadays. Wrestling fans are just as and sometimes more entitled as the Pokemon fans have been lately and it’s just as flabbergasting how people who grew up loving something and whose formative years were defined by the thing can suddenly hold so much hatred in their hearts for it that they turn that hatred on other people who have a similar love for the thing.
But all that negativity is not the end-all be-all for what wrestling and Pokemon are. There are great and positive things in the world despite the aforementioned vocal minorities. I write this mostly as a reminder to myself because the last few weeks have been the most difficult it’s ever been to be a Pokemon fan. I’m so used to checking the internet and getting lost in the hype machine. Part of being a fan for me, is being excited about the things that are coming up. And I did not have the chance to do that with the online Pokemon community leading up to Sword and Shield’s release. I’ve been worn down by the toxicity so this chapter has just broken down into a 750 word rant about my frustrations with toxic fandoms and a plea for anyone within clicking distance to just be better. Especially the wrestling community. I know the Pokemon community will eventually simmer down, but y’all wrestling peeps need to chill. As I said when my friends over at Prestige Wrestling tweeted about not tolerating hate speech or slurs, “if a wrestling company that is based out of Eastern Oregon is saying to be better, you literally have no excuse.”
- December 8: WCWC – Salem, OR