Born to Buy (Bright Wall/Dark Room)

An essay I wrote about Toy Story, Pokemon, and capitalism appears in this month’s Bright Wall/Dark Room, an excerpt of which you can read below.

In the tangled web of integrated media, finding beginnings and endings in the Pokémon franchise is even harder than a needle in the proverbial hay. Everything fits so snugly into the cycle of influence. After the success of this first film, Ash’s story has continued in various TV incarnations for over 20 years, and in 18 films. As for the video games, over 60 titles have appeared across every platform Nintendo has introduced since 1997.

Critically speaking, the films and anime feature grating characters, formulaic plots, and beyond irritating voice acting. The games are all functionally derivative of the original title, as are the offshoots, like Pokémon GO, which amounts to little more than walking around with your head down and destroying your cell phone battery. They offer practically nothing besides the familiar characters—which, of course, is the point. Pokémon GO, despite its limitations, allegedly received upwards of 500 million downloads. With it, the franchise capitalized on the loyalty they’ve bred in a generation of consumers.

Read the full essay over at Bright Wall/Dark Room.