Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cards Against Humanity has castrated itself

I've enjoyed a few fun evenings playing Cards Against Humanity with friends. The premise is to play Apples to Apples using decks of purposely-offensive cards. The idea was to be without limits. Subjects in the game include the Holocaust, racism, genocide, date rape and gays.

I saw this as a late comer to the offensive humor renaissance that started more than a decade ago as a backlash to political correctness and hypersensitive social justice warriors. Sadly, it appears that Cards Against Humanity is mutating towards a social justice endgame.

Charles C.W. Cooke wrote in National Review about a card that a player thought went too far. It simply read "Passable transvestites" and the player made a blog post about it, showing himself burning the card. He didn't try to start a campaign, but the post when viral and he explained in a later interview that he was playing the game when the card came up:

"Somebody played that card, and somebody else was like, 'That's not okay.' I decided I didn’t want it in my deck."

Here's Cooke:

The entire purpose — quite literally the only point — of “Cards Against Humanity” is to be shocking and objectionable. Pretty much every single card in the pack is shocking and objectionable. The game is “offensive”? Gosh, what gave it away? Was it, perhaps, the words ”Cards Against Humanity” emblazoned on the box? Or, perhaps, the description, “A party game for horrible people”? Maybe it was that the stated aim is to be as “despicable” as possible? A card “wasn’t okay”? Well, obviously... 
Clearly, the guy who took such offense at the one card enjoyed the game too. He bought into the premise. He sat there through the rest of the rounds, which inevitably contained other “offensive jokes.” He just didn’t like it when the joke was on him... 
Do you know what we called people such as this before the age of sensitivity training? We called them people-who-could-dish-it-out-but-who-couldn’t-take-it. We called them people-who-take-themselves-too-seriously. We told them that it was only a bit of fun. We asked sarcastically when they had been appointed emperor. We told them to get over themselves and have another drink. We rolled our eyes. What did Cards Against Humanity’s creator do? He apologized, of course:

That's the worst part of this. It's amusing and completely unsurprising that hypocritical lefties would take a stance after being offended by a game about being offensive.

What's not amusing is that Max Temkin, once of the game's creators, responded by saying. “I regret writing this card, it was a mean, cheap joke. We took it out of the game a while ago.”

In an interview with Fusion.net, he added.

"It's embarrassing to me that there was a time in my life that that was funny," Temkin said... 
Temkin says he and the other creators know there's a big difference between cards that make fun of public figures and ones that victimize people in marginalized groups. 
"We talk about the idea of 'punching up, not punching down' all the time," Temkin said. "It's something that we stand behind: making fun of those power structures, because they're already powerful. Making jokes about rapes, making jokes about trans people, they don't have the same cultural power." 
To that end, some of the newer cards have a decidedly social-justice-friendly edge: You can now play "heteronormativity," "the patriarchy" and "white privilege."

So this is the future of Cards Against Humanity? Glenn Beck jokes, fight-the-power messages and cooing apologies to the easily-offended community for the tamest of jokes? No thanks. It's confusing that he would continue to work on the game while apologizing for the premise of the game. Did they cave, or did we all simply misunderstand their intention from the beginning?

I remember earlier this year when some not-funny feminists decided to make their own complaint-based version to advance social justice, complete with trigger warnings. I thought at the time they just don't get it.

Now I feel that I'm the one who just doesn't get it.

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