Pokémon: Is Brock a GOOD Male Role Model?
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Pokemon’s Brock is an inherently good character with one serious flaw. Does this stop him being viewed as a positive role model for young viewers?
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Every character in the Pokémon anime, good or bad, has both strengths and flaws. Ash is famous for his boundless enthusiasm and never-give-up attitude but can be impulsive and naive. Misty is passionate about water Pokémon and balances her sometimes explosive anger with genuine care for her friends. Even Jessie and James of Team Rocket have their good qualities: they deeply treasure their friendships with each other, their Pokemon and every once in a blue moon they team up with Ash and the gang for the greater good.
As a kid-friendly anime aimed at all ages, younger viewers naturally flock toward their favorite animated characters as potential role models. They don’t just want to be in the world of Pokémon. They want to travel the same path, behave similarly to and overcome difficult challenges just as their favorite character does in various situations. So where does this leave Brock, who can be more divisive among fans for the vast range in his best attributes versus his worst flaws? Does Brock make a good role model, particularly for younger male viewers? Let’s take a deeper look at his character and how his personality works in the anime as a whole.
Brock’s Positive Qualities
Brock and Misty were a fascinating first tandem for Ash in the Indigo League arc. Brock consistently takes on roles that are traditionally considered “motherly,” doing most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and many other forms of caregiving. In essence, he is the group’s nurturer, highly influenced and refined by all the years spent taking care of his nine younger siblings. All of this also allows Misty to be her unapologetically fierce, occasionally hot-headed self and pursue her dream of becoming a Water Pokémon master unimpeded. In these ways, both characters buck traditional gender stereotypes, which contributes to the idea that both are good role models for young people of all genders.
When considering his siblings, perhaps it’s only natural that Brock holds more interest in being a Pokemon breeder — and later a doctor — rather than a Gym Leader or a battler like Ash. He develops innovative foods, medicines and treats, always searching for new ways to give his Pokémon the best life possible. On the other hand, he never fails to aid Ash and Misty in battle against Team Rocket or give help to someone else in need. Ash may be the protagonist, but Brock was the group’s all-around leader and provider in the series’ early days.
Brock’s Negative Qualities
It’s impossible to talk about Brock without discussing his most critical character flaw, and one of the show’s long-running gags: his treatment of women. When Brock meets a girl he’s attracted to — along with every Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny in existence — he grows lecherous, asking for a date or a relationship and often touching them without permission. So how do we dissect this unacceptable behavior?
While the female characters are often shocked or visibly uncomfortable, it’s important to note that the gag’s punchline is that Brock is never successful in these endeavors. He also constantly has Misty beside him to provide the point of laughter, either dragging him away by the ear or slugging him in the back of his head. Sometimes the target of affection herself is highly assertive, flat out turning Brock down or even slugging him directly. Even in Sun & Moon when Brock meets Olivia and makes a comedic marriage proposal, Misty once again drags him away before the two connect more properly over their love of Rock-type Pokémon. In its own comedic way, the anime is showing younger viewers that pursuing a potential romantic interest in this way is not acceptable and will never bring the desired result.
Is Brock a Good Role Model?
Brock helps take care of his friends, guiding them with sage advice and helping them train and strategize for battles. He aids in confrontations with Team Rocket, happily lends a hand to strangers in need, and performs many of the day in/day out duties of the group’s long journeys through the vast world of Pokémon. Just as Brock provides the calmness that balances out Ash and Misty’s impulsiveness, likewise they firmly bring him back to Earth when he grows out of control around a girl he likes.
In the end, Brock is just like many human beings, real or fictional: flawed but ultimately good, honest, giving and caring. There’s no such thing as a perfect role model, and it’s important that kids understand a person’s best and worst attributes in order to learn and grow as they get older. Brock, just like Ash, Misty and many other characters in Pokémon, can be viewed as a good role model for young boys — as long as his flaws are acknowledged and understood as well.
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