Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cards Against Humanity is (not) Ruined! - By Jarys

     Did you see the tweet where the Cards Against Humanity player burned their copy of a card...and then the apologetic response by the game's maker? What's going on? Do we all have to burn our Cards for the PC police? Can't that player take a joke? It's just a game.....why would the creator agree with them and then apologize? Has the "nothing sacred" attitude of the game been swept away in to irrelevance?

     I don't think so.

     Let's clear up what happened. An owner of the game "Cards Against Humanity" found themselves tired of the card "Passable Transvestites". There were Trans* friends in this player's circle and whenever the card dropped, the mood would too. In frustration, the player burned that card in their sink and tweeted a picture of it, attempting to make a statement, including the clear-as-crystal "DEATH TO TRANSPHOBIA". That statement made its way to one of the game's creators, Max Temkin, who wrote "I regret writing this card. It was a mean, cheap joke. We took it out of the game a while ago. It's embarrassing to me that there was a time in my life when this was funny" Add a bit of galvanized reaction and that's pretty much the end of the story.

Talk about Galvanizing. *pulls on collar nervously*

     Those who defend including the card or are disappointed in the apology have argued that the game is specifically irreverent and that taking out a card that targets one group shows unfair protection of that group. I have also heard it argued that the move to apologize must have been a business decision. I disagree with both assertions, as you may have guessed. I'll try to break these down without exacerbating things.

     First, Cards Against Humanity is not irreverent. It speaks truth to power. The difference is, as the creators put it "Punching up verses punching down. "It's something that we stand behind: making fun of those power structures, because they're already powerful." Said Temkin, "Making jokes about rapes, making jokes about trans people, they don't have the same cultural power." in accordance with this, the card "Date Rape" has been pulled from later editions of the basic set by the makers. There are a number of cards that back up this purported philosophy, if this quote doesn't convince you, CaH has created a whole slew of cards depicting bad things happening to Conservative media figure Glen Beck, the game now includes the term "Heteronormativity", and the original game pondered "what does Dick Cheney prefer?" [Ed- I won that hand with "Friendly Fire"]

This, right here, is punching up -Ed

     Doing what you can to not "punch down" is not a protection of some groups instead of others. It is a blanket principle. That principle is highly dependent on being aware of slowly moving but very noticable power structures in culture. Or, to put it in a word "Context". Looking at today's context, Trans* spokeswoman Laverne Cox publicly shamed on CNN with questions about her genitals or, say, the President only two months ago removing a federal ban on gender reassignment surgery for those on Medicare are indications that the Trans* community is very much not in power. You don't have to huddle tight around the protective fire of Card's irreverence to challenge or make fun of trans* people, doing so is already an accepted part of culture. This is a culture that does not see Trans* people as above it, just the opposite. I don't blame the Cards Against Humanity makers for not wanting to be a part of that.

     Do I think that Temkin is attempting to appease a customer group and that this apology is a calculated one? No, not in the least. There was no online movement to burn cards, stop buying the game, or shame the game's makers. There is no need to save this portion of market share because it was not threatened. Temkin's response is well reasoned, in line with the game's past development, and unasked for. This incident came from one game owner deciding what they do and do not want in their game. They have every right to do so, because the game is not sacred, the owner has final say of their purchased product. If they want to use their product to make a statement, they can do that. They have not ruined their game, but adapted it to their use, which was the original intent of Cards Against Humanity all along. After all, the game includes blank cards so that you can write in your phrases. If you got a later printing of the basic set and miss being able to slam down "passable transvestites" the game gives you everything you need (pen not included) to add it to your game. 

     and now that we are done, make a haiku!

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