178: Not Really Into Pokemon

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Not Really Into Pokemon
As of this writing, Ubuntu 6.10 and Firefox 2.0 have left my computer a complete mess.
Title text: As of this writing, Ubuntu 6.10 and Firefox 2.0 have left my computer a complete mess.

[edit] Explanation

Pokémon is a popular franchise that includes a children's animated television show, a collectible card game, and a whole series of video games. The premise is that a young "trainer" goes out to explore the world and catch Pokémon: fanciful wild creatures that come in many varieties, ranging from armoured dinosaurs that have drills for horns to robotic bugs that change their type depending on the items that they are holding. When the trainer comes across wild Pokémon or other trainers, they use their Pokémon to fight each other.

In this comic, Randall claims that "I'm not really into Pokémon" can serve as an all-purpose phrase of condescending dismissal. The implied insult to the thing being dismissed can include:

  • Childishness. Although it does have a significant adult following, the Pokémon franchise was and is mainly targeted at children.
  • Frivolousness. The essential goal of Pokémon games, summed up in the slogan "Gotta Catch 'Em All", is to catch Pokémon for the sake of having them.
  • Commercialism. Pokémon is a sprawling franchise that periodically releases new iterations, which (at least to a non-fan) can seem much like more of the same, only existing to make money. At present, the Pokémon universe contains over 700 different types of Pokémon.
  • Absurdity. As mentioned, the designs of individual Pokémon can be quite fanciful; "absurd" would be a more unkind way to put it.

The example in the comic is Black Hat dismissing Ubuntu, an open-source computer operating system. Ubuntu may have been particularly chosen as specifically suitable for the "Pokémon dismissal" for reasons such as:

  • The name "Ubuntu", which (like the names of Pokémon) can sound strange or silly. Individual Ubuntu releases also have animal-themed names (like "Hoary Hedgehog" and "Saucy Salamander").
  • Its release schedule; new Ubuntu releases come out every six months, which might (like Pokémon) be unfavourably described as putting out more of the same in new packaging.
  • A notion that people try Ubuntu (and other Linux distributions) just for the sake of doing so, like catching all the Pokémon.

The title text refers to the complications that new software releases can have on computers, especially if either the release is a(n) alpha/beta release or if the computer is rather old. Randall specifically mentions Ubuntu 6.10 and Firefox 2.0, both of which were officially released around two weeks after this comic was posted, so the versions causing problems were certainly pre-release editions. While Randall does not detail any specific issues, the title text may paint a picture of two computer programs fighting each other inside the computer and making a mess in the process, as if they were Pokémon.

[edit] Transcript

I have found the perfect phrase for condescendingly dismissing anything:
Cueball: Have you seen the new Ubuntu release?
Black Hat: Nah, I'm not really into Pokémon.
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