My next statement may sound ill-informed, or even moronic, but I believe it's true: Pokmon has peaked. Sure, evidence to the contrary is everywhere - including a Pokmania story in this newspaper last week - but I'm not mesmerized by the mountains of trading cards, the cartoon show, or the legions of youthful fans who are pouring their allowances into Pokmon collectibles.
The real experts on this subject have spoken. A few weeks ago, I heard a news report that said big investors have already begun selling short on companies that produce Pokmon items. Financial experts have apparently decided that the momentum is slowing, and by this time next year, I suspect Pokmon memorabilia will be getting stored in basements and garages, alongside other boxes full of Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I still can't figure out why Pokmon got so big in the first place. Fads are tough to explain rationally, and they resonate more intensely among the 6-to-12 age group. But if the economic wizards are correct, and Pokmon is running on borrowed time, right now is a good moment for me to suggest something more dynamic for the next kids' craze: Riverdance.
Don't shake your head. The Celtic trend is well established among adult Americans. Musical artists such as Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and The Chieftains have become hugely popular during the past decade. Irish memoirs such as "Angela's Ashes" (Frank McCourt) and "Are You Somebody?" (Nuala O'Faolain) were national bestsellers.
Riverdance is the logical Celtic bridge to the younger set. I saw a live performance recently, and the long line of dancers thundering across the stage with their feet pounding in unison like battle drums made me want to grab a heavy sword and ride off to join Mel Gibson's army of warriors in "Braveheart."
Here are just a few Riverdance spinoffs ripe for commercial development, and easily targeted at the Pokmon audience:
Riverdance action figures. Tiny interlocking hands would allow easy arrangement into circles, squares, or whatever geometric pattern a precocious choreographer might devise.
Riverdance comic books. Each action figure has a name and special Celtic power! This exciting series of illustrated adventures would chronicle the group's ongoing crusade against the menacing forces of boredom and sloth.
Riverdance on Ice. This could be tricky, but spectacular. It would definitely require a thick rink and hardworking Zamboni driver.
Riverdance - The Home Version. Special heel-and-toe taps could easily be manufactured to fit all known shoe styles. Distinctive percussion rhythms would give parents ongoing awareness of their children's exact location within the house.
Obviously there's no such thing as a perfect fad. But compared with Pokmon, I think Riverdance is quite a few steps in the right direction.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society