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On a recent road trip across the Midwest headed towards the East Coast, I happened by a jerky outlet selling exotic meats, such as elk, kangaroo, and even gator jerky. Off to the side in the same shop were PETA t-shirts, though upon closer examination, they read People Eating Tasty Animals. I thought, 'Ah, of course.' The real PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- has a sense of humor too, which it most recently used to develop a parody video game called Pokemon Black & Blue where kids can help "Pikachu and his Pokemon pals fight their cruel oppressors and gain their freedom." No joke.
PETA's beef is with the new Pokemon Black and White 2 game that hit store shelves on Sunday, which the organization claims casts a positive light on what essentially boils down to thinly veiled animal abuse.
"Games such as Pokemon send kids the wrong message that exploiting and abusing those who are defenseless is acceptable when it's not," says PETA Director of Marketing Innovations Joel Bartlett. "But with Pokémon Black and Blue, children can experience the great feeling that comes from saving others from harm."
PETA often expresses extreme viewpoints, and in this case, the animal rights organization takes exception to Pokemon being "treated as unfeeling objects" where they're used for human entertainment and as subjects in experiments.
"The way that Pokemon are stuffed into pokeballs is similar to how circuses chain elephants inside railroad cars and let them out only to perform confusing and often painful tricks that were taught using sharp steel-tipped bullhooks and electric shock prods," PETA says.
This is far from the first time PETA has taken exception to in-game content and/or developed a parody title of its own. In Super Tanooki Skin 2D, PETA took a stand against animal skinning, as it felt was represented by Super Mario putting on a raccoon costume (Tanooki Mario). Around the same time, PETA raged against the killing of rats in Battlefield 3. The organization also was pivotal in Zynga's decision to remove pit bulls from its Mafia Wars title, but probably our favorite PETA memory is when it announced plans to raise awareness for animal rights via a porn website. Once gain folks, no joke.