Do the Hokey Poké; Behind-the-Curve Cyberculture


Stand aside, for I am the master of Perplexichu, the 152nd Pokémon species of the Head- Slapping variety, with the special power of Gape! In combat, my Pokémon can muster the Alarmed Gaze, before which poorly trained moviemakers crumble! My Pokémon can even transform into Irkadon, a highly evolved Pokémon of the Cranky Critic variety! Hmm!

Upon confronting Pokémonthe First Movie, I as Pokémon Master declare, yes! Under my command, there will be a thousand more Pokémovies! Without my own Pokémon to battle other Pokémon just as some have illegally set fighting cocks on each other for fun and profit, I might’ve thought, five minutes into the lysergic introductory short Pikachu’s Vacation, that I’d died and gone to very-bad-acid hell. In fact, entire hunks of thefeature (about a cloned, psychic feline Pokémon endeavoring to take over the world by cloning more Pokémon, the bastard!) made me wish I was Dopechu, air Pokémon of the Peyote variety. Amid the low-grade Akira brimstone, noxious cuteness, and stone-knives animation, the Pokémon universe reveals itself here to the newcomer as possibly the most deranged, pointlessly complex, automatic-writing-like cultural manifestation outside the cosmologies of the more creative psychotics. It makes the Star Wars mythos play like Pong.

Reeling in Poké-sorrow as the movie climaxed with the evil clone Pikachu pounding the peacefully protesting original Pikachu, Perplexichu didn’t buy the antiviolence message any more than I did, since Pokémon live to serve masters like me! and fight! Grown-ups will be stunned into a brain-blockaded silence, but kids everywhere, for whom this is a motivational training film for increased binging on trading cards and video games, will bask as if in an opium fog.

Doug Block’s Home Page, on the other hand, is almost about the real world, documenting the uneventful life of goofy-haired college narcissist/home page diarist Justin Hall, who can best be characterized as a couch-grown Pokémon of the Snore variety, with special Silly Clothes power. As Perplexichu and I watched this aimless but sweet first-person doc, in which fortysomething Web neophyte Block tries to understand cyberculture through Hall’s minor celebrity, it became clear that Block is several years behind the curve, and that Hall’s Web-evangelizing road tour was aimed at retirees in Des Moines. The interviews with the boys at are quietly pungent, but most of Home Page is Pokédull.

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