Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: An episode of the popular kid's TV show Pokemon caused over 600 young children in Japan to have epileptic attacks.
Origins: This legend is the typical parental nightmare: A popular TV show in which every child is interested has a darker side — a single episode can cause epileptic seizures in children who aren't even epileptic.
The TV series Pokemon hit its high point in the second half of 1999, becoming the most popular fad in the schoolyard with a Nintendo game, a trading card game, and several music CDs — all marketed through a massive merchandising empire that would make even George Lucas squirm — followed by a movie that topped box office attendance charts.
Critics have slammed the show since its inception, claiming that it includes anti-social elements such as scenes of small animals being captured and characters fighting. (This criticism has been compounded with constant reminders that the show gave over
After 618 Japanese children reportedly experienced seizures from viewing that December 1997 episode of Pocket Monsters (later renamed Pokemon) and were rushed to hospital, the TV show was shut down for several months, and parents were frightened that if Pokemon were screened again, children would once again be adversely affected. However, the episode in question was made "safe" through the removal of the scenes that had supposedly induced the seizures, it was never screened again for Japanese audiences, and it was removed from the American TV roster (and therefore will not be translated into English or shown in the United States). Later, researchers who studied the Pokemon phenomenon reported in the Southern Medical Journal that only a small fraction of the 618 children treated were actually diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy.
A RealPlayer clip of the "seizure episode" can be viewed through the link below. It has been scaled down and is not harmful in any way.
Ryan "shock-attack" Aston
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