In concept, Cards Against Humanity is the sort of game I love. There's no competition and no real winning or losing. The game emphasizes creativity and amusement instead of points and strategy. It's the type of game that grows exponentially more hilarious with more and more players, and it sparks very interesting side conversations when people ask or joke about each other's choices.
In practice, however, I find Cards Against Humanity very problematic in terms of content and framing. The black cards, with their framing sentences, feature mostly topical references familiar to people in their 20s and 30s. Examples include: "What does Prince insist on being included in his dressing room?" and "What does Obama do to unwind?" Fine, no big deal.
It's the white noun cards, though, that drive me up the wall. If they contained only generically amusing phrases such as "murder most foul," "inappropriate yodeling" and "licking things to claim them as your own," I wouldn't object. But no, those cards are a distinct minority. The white cards focus heavily on topics apparently considered taboo or difficult to discuss by the white, straight, cis, male, bourgeois creator, including people of color ["brown people," "the hard-working Mexican"], people with disabilities ["amputees," "Stephen Hawking talking dirty," "a robust Mongoloid," "a spastic nerd," "the profoundly handicapped"], queer people ["the gays," "praying the gay away"], fat people ["feeding Rosie O'Donnell," "the morbidly obese," "home video of Oprah sobbing into a Lean Cuisine"], gender-nonconforming people ["passable transvestites"], genocide ["inappropriately timed Holocaust jokes," "helplessly giggling at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis"], Muslims ["Allah [praise be unto him!]," "72 virgins"], poor people ["poor people," "homeless people"], old people ["Grandma," "hospice care"], child abuse ["child abuse"], rape ["surprise sex"], paraphilias ["German dungeon porn"] and crap ["fiery poops"]. I could go on, but then I'd be quoting the entire suite of white cards.
Cards Against Humanity glancingly acknowledges the problematic structure of its game by billing its audience as "horrible people." "It's as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," crows the main page of the game's Web site. Of course, below this description are various cool publications and people praising the game, so clearly the game's creators see being "despicable and awkward" as a coveted, desirable status. They quote condemnations from the Chicago Tribune ["absurd"], The Economist ["unforgivable"] and NPR ["bad"] in contrast with praise from INC ["hilarious"] and Boing Boing ["funny"]. Thus they associate criticism with old-fashioned, conservative, humorless media outlets full of old people and appreciation with the young, hip, cool crowd. To be "despicable and awkward," then, is ultimately to be cool.
What does Cards Against Humanity's concept of coolness -- that is, their idea of rebranded despicability qua awesomeness -- entail? Basically it means laughing at anyone who's not a straight, white, cis, bourgeois, hipster dude [like the creator]. Don't try to tell me that, because the game has white cards like "white privilege," it actually critiques those who are discomfited by the concept. No, it doesn't, not when the majority of cards make marginalized people who lack privilege into punchline after punchline after punchline.
If you're still not convinced, let me break it down to you with a single example: the white card that has the phrase "passable transvestites." There is so much wrong with this card that it's hard to know where to start. Well, to begin with, clearly someone thought this phrase worthy of inclusion into the deck of white cards, meaning that someone perceived it as shocking, racy, funny and potentially ridiculous. So what's shocking, racy and entertaining about "passable transvestites?" Yeah, a gender nonconforming person who goes out in public en femme so that they avoid being clocked always makes me laugh. The stats on trans and other gender nonconforming people being harassed, assaulted and killed provide comic relief every time I read them. The outdated language on this white card -- the vexed concept of "passable," coupled with the no-longer-used, clinical-sounding "transvestite" -- signals that the game's creators are hung up on old-fashioned binaries of gender presentation, the transgression of which they find hilarious and pathetic, instead of a matter of life and death.
I can make the same points about Cards Against Humanity's treatment of people with disabilities, the prejudice against whom can be summed up in a single white card: "Stephen Hawking talking dirty." Yup, yup, of course, people who are neuroatypical, emotionally atypical and physically atypical to the extent that society doesn't really know how to accommodate them -- they're comedy gold! I mean, really -- can you imagine a man with paralysis talking dirty? First of all, he'd be doing it with the help of his computer, which is inherently hilarious, you know, because he can't really talk. Second of all, it would imply that he, despite being unable to move parts of his body, has active sexual desires and interests, which is a shock, because no paralyzed person has ever had sexual interests and agency before -- ever! They're just...like... wheelchair-bound automatons. Yeah, "the profoundly handicapped" are a gas all right. Yet again, Cards Against Humanity's decision to employee the passe and offensive term "handicapped" shows that they're not interested in mocking prejudice, but in perpetuating it.
EDIT: As rosettanettle points out in a comment on my LJ crosspost, the creator of Cards Against Humanity expressed regret for the "passable transvestites" white card, which is now no longer included in decks. This does not, however, negate any of my points. If anything, it reinforces them, since the creator's expression of "regret," which came only because he was called on his transphobia, comes across as less a regret of treasuring bigoted tenets and more a regret at getting caught. I also suspect his theatrical Tumblr photoset of him lighting the card on fire of being a self-aggrandizing performance so that he may be showered with praise about what an enlightened ally he is. Why do straight, cis, white, middle-class dudes think they deserve extra special plaudits for meeting minimum standards of decency? "Despicable," indeed.
In no particular order, the problems were:
- Steve. The show never did this character justice. He had great potential, especially as someone with the power of discerning whether people were telling the truth, but the show never really knew what to do with him. Without a tortured past full of secrets like the other agents [or at least not enough of the past for a multi-ep exploration], Steve had no grounding, no motivation, no hook. He also never really had anything to do except for to be Claudia's best friend, to die, to be resurrected and to keep the home fires burning while everyone else ran away on adventures. He was a thoroughly dull and objectified damsel in distress type. I feel like the writers identified him by a cluster of traits -- former ATF agent, Buddhist, gay, human lie detector -- and just had him mention those identities occasionally in lieu of developing an actual personality.
- While we're on the subject again, let's bring up homophobia, one of the show's perennial failings. In 6.4, Savage Seduction, Claudia and Steve investigate a frat where the brothers are using an artifact to split themselves into two parts: studiers and partiers. Claudia and Steve's quest started promisingly with Claudia grumbling about "kids these days" [even though she was the age of the students] and Steve's revelation that he had been part of a nerd fraternity with "book group and holiday a cappella." Then Steve got a hold of the artifact and turned into two Steves, one of which was usual Steve and the other of which was a painfully swishy stereotype. Where did that come from? Steve had never shown any indication of harboring painfully swishy stereotypes. It could have been interesting if those were his long-buried fears about what he might have to be when he found out he was gay, but nah -- the show just played swishy Steve for laughs. Claudia also made a passing remark that she liked swishy Steve "a little bit more" than usual Steve, which was indicative of the show's whole treatment of Steve's sexuality: it was only ever developed jokingly, with reference to stereotypes, even if Steve was bringing them up to say that he differed from them. The show could not take him as a gay guy seriously and invested way too much prurient energy into his sexuality.
- Speaking of sexuality, the show also capitulated to cultural pressures of heteronormativity. After five seasons of him being annoyed at her exactitude and her being annoyed at his immaturity, Pete and Myka realized that they loved each other. Well, that was pretty obvious. But why did they have to end up as a romantic couple? They may have loved each other and worked well together, but they were not characterologically compatible, so why did the show hook them up? Boring, boring, boring.
- Furthermore, racism featured prominently in Warehouse 13's final season. It was like they crammed all the racism that they hadn't gotten to into a single truncated set of 6 eps. There were the gratuitous "g***y" references with the fortune tellers in the Ren Faire ep. There was the trash heap of "fiery Latino" stereotypes in the telenovela ep. Then, in the last ep, Leena, who was bumped off for no reason at the end of season 4, was given a flashback scene in which she foresaw her own death in the Warehouse and then, when Mrs. Frederic said that she would try to prevent it, said to her, "But it's okay." No, you stinkin' show -- do not try to retroactively sell me on the useless death of one of the show's two main characters of color. I won't buy it.
However, in the last scene they're together, Steve and the ex stand around with their hands in their pockets, about 6 feet apart. I understand masculine socialization to repress emotion and avoid touching, and I also understand that they were only tentatively trusting each other at this point, but c'mon!!! No shoulder touch, no hand squeeze, no hug, not even an affectionate glance, goofy smile or reference to the times they did enjoy together? Given the level of interest [not] on display, they could have been engaged in a transaction for a used car. The actors had no chemistry, and the script and blocking didn't even try to convince me otherwise. Fuck you and your fucking homophobia, Sy Fy.
P.S. Also queer women don't exist.
Authors go on and on about "sex reassignment surgery." No, dipshits, it's not "sex reassignment surgery." Frankly, I'm not entirely sure what the most accurate term is at this point, but it's not that. I think the general term I've heard is "gender transition surgery," which encompasses a variety of procedures.
"Transexualism is a gender identification disorder..." A) Authors can't even spell "transsexualism." B) Cissexism is a disorder in which people think that there are only two categories of people, "men" and "women," and that all people in each group must have bodies that look exactly the same.
Authors are obsessed with penetration, defining a neopenis as one that can successfully achieve penetration and a neovulva as one that can successfully be penetrated. They apparently think that the only type of sexual activity available is penis-into-vulva penetration.
I don't have the energy to parse this right now, but I do have to say that my favorite quote is this:
...Women may be looking for orgasms, which, in turn, Mautz suggested, may serve a pair-bonding function. In the recent book,
BONERZ = WUV. It's science, dipsticks!
She was murdered by abusive, wretched excuse for a human being [and celebrity athlete] Oscar Pistorius, in yet another depressingly common case of intimate partner violence.
How much do you wanna bet he'll get away with it due to his super privileges as a white, rich, straight, cis, celebrity dude who can also play on the public assumption that people with disabilities are useless lumps who can't do anything, much less murder?
And how much do you wanna bet that Steenkamp will disappear in the media's narrative about how they're shocked -- shocked, I say! -- that the inspiringly heroic supercrip should have such a tragic downfall?
Letter writer: "I like this guy, but he's gained 20 pounds in the past year, and he doesn't brush his teeth before bed. I'm in the health industry, so I'm very concerned. What do I do?"
Prudie: "I see you're worried about fatty there croaking from diabetes and you raising your kids alone. So give him an ultimatum: A) No kisses till he starts brushing regularly. B) Either he gets his fat ass to the gym on a slimming program and stops stuffing cake in his piehole, or you're outta there. P.S. People without teeth are hilarious. Also ugly."
This response, like last month's, reveals Prudie's hangups and preoccupations. In both cases, she assumes that the fat people in question will, if they continue their current behavior, become shamefully disabled and eventually die, probably from complications from diabetes. Then their poor wives will be alone, so tragically alone, forced to raise the kids by themselves.
It's so multiply offensive. In no particular order, there's the clueless assumptions that fat people are axiomatically unhealthy. There's the nasty, cruel jokes at the expense of people with disabilities. And there's the heterosexist idea that a single mother and kids is not a real family, but something pathetic, unnatural and inadequate.
If Prudie really wanted to give helpful advice, she should encourage the letter writer to talk to her boyfriend and find out more about his childhood relationships to dental hygiene, sugar, diabetes and food in general. She should also ask him how he's been doing in the last year physically, mentally and emotionally. The first subject could shed some light on why he has poor dental hygiene; maybe he never had toothbrushing habits modeled, or he's scared of the dentist, or there was that one time his uncle called him Buckteeth, so he has really ambivalent feelings about his mouth in general. The second subject could provide context for his weight gain; maybe he's feeling lethargic, or he's lost his appetite, or his tastes have changed, or he's eating in part due to boredom, anxiety or depression. Heck, maybe his thyroid's off!
With this information, the letter writer and her boyfriend can, if they feel so motivated, better figure out the actual contributing factors to his poor dental hygiene and his recent weight gain, instead of attacking the symptoms. They can then consult the appropriate health care providers or social supports and work from there.
I know, Prudie; I know...that's too much work. Far easier to focus on the symptoms and use emotional bribery to combat the eeeeeeeeevil fats.
Didn't anyone tell you that ultimatums never work?
I'd like to check out this "update," if only to see what Fein and Schneider are saying about queer couples. As I recall, there were some vague statements about folks like us in the original Rules books. However, without the "war of the sexes/genders" framework in which to slot each of the players and their "opposite sexes" paradigm with which they make sense of romantic relationships, their comments amounted to, "The Rules are a good guideline for all relationships, even queer ones. Because of reasons. Yeah, and, um...stuff." There was a lot of tokenistic, slightly panicked hand-waving in that dismissive paragraph or two, as I remember. It was actually pretty hilarious.
I'm going to finish this series because Bray knows how to write mindlessly engaging entertainment. I am not, however, finishing this series for its literary merit. In fact, the book presents many beautiful examples of how not to write. I have gathered them in a list below for your convenience in no particular order.( This book REALLY pissed me off. )
I'm not even going to get into it here. I'm just going to say that, apparently, in 2065, there is absolutely no communication whatsoever between the Earth and the Moon.
Seemingly THE ENTIRE WORLD revolves around the adventures of straight, cis, white, middle-class, able-bodied men with societally acceptable body shapes and slag heaps of unexamined privilege. They're tedious, boring, self-indulgent and overdone. Find a new narrative, people.
P.S. And if you're a straight etc. man whose protagonist happens to be a straight etc. man, you're suffering A FAILURE OF IMAGINATION. The world don't look like you no more. Get over yourself.
I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon.
The entry itself goes on to analogize "straight white male" privilege as the easiest level setting in a video game. I sense some implicit Oppression Olympics going on in his analogy, so I can't recommend it unreservedly, but that opening comparison sure is hilarious.
In a New York Times article, At Home, Asking How "Our Bobby" Became War Crime Suspect, they're truly shocked -- I mean SHOCKED!!
Michelle Caddell, 48, who knew Sergeant Bales when he was growing up, watched a video clip of the news over and over and over again, mesmerized by disbelief. “I wanted to see, maybe, a different face,” she said, fighting back tears. “Because that’s not our Bobby. Something horrible, horrible had to happen to him.”
The article delves into Bale's past, decribing his promising beginnings, glossing over a civilian assault, addressing Bale's family's financial problems and wondering about post-combat PTSD. Portraying Bale as a sad victim of external pressures, the article pities him. Poor white, cis, hetero guy! Look at what was done to him!
The narratives of shock and disbelief prevent the article from showing Bale as someone who committed a horrible crime. They prevent his white, cis, hetero, military male privilege from being interrogated and criticized. They stir up the old fallacies driven into our heads by this rape culture of ours: "He's such a nice guy; he couldn't do something like that. Maybe the so-called victims somehow deserved it."
Our culture needs to get over the "nice [straight, white] guy" myth. It's getting in the way of important discussions about and changes that need to occur regarding the ills of hegemonic US masculinity, the mental health of military personnel, just what the hell we're doing over there in Afghanistan anyway and how justice will be served for the 16 people that Bales murdered!
What is the implication here...that there are no same-sex couples with women in them? That queer couples don't experience domestic violence? Both of these are patently false assumptions. I don't understand why more domestic violence prevention would be a BAD thing.
Clearly the Republicans just don't like people who aren't straight, cis, white, able-bodied, rich men. More than that, they actively want to kill them. It's a frightening world we live in.
I don't understand why people feel the need to make dehumanizing, objectifying comments about Bachmann -- in this case, comparing her to a snake -- when there are real, substantive criticisms to be made of her bigoted views and policies. For example, see a post on Talking Points Memo where Bachmann tries some stonewalling bullshittery in the face of the interviewer asking her about previous homophobic statements. Sexist remarks such as those on Pharyngula distract from the issues at hand and hurt all women.
To anyone who thinks that Pharyngula is just having a little fun, that it's okay to go after Bachmann because you don't agree with her, let me point out this: Saying "It's okay to make fun of this woman because of her sex, but not that one!" does not provide an adequate excuse. Sexism against one woman, any woman, harms all women. You personally may only make fun of Bachmann, but what's to prevent someone else from saying, "Oh, I'm only going to make fun of ModernWizard [or any other woman, for that matter], but not others"? Your exceptions may be someone else's target. Your willingness to participate in sexist rhetoric just perpetuates an atmosphere of acceptance in which further sexism flourishes. Sexism is never okay, no matter who the target!
Didn't we just go through this four years ago with Sarah Palin [post on SocIm started by yours truly] and Hillary Clinton as targets of sexist smears?
P.S. Mockery of Bachmann's husband for supposedly being a closeted gay man trades on the idea that being gay is somehow shameful and worthy of ridicule. If you think that way, you are homophobic.
I never thought I'd be defending the virtues of the Twilight saga, a series that I find insidiously sexist and intensely problematic, but there it is. No, Mr. McGreevy, the sex of an author is not a legitimate subject for one of your irrelevant tangents about how biliously poxed with prejudice your brain happens to be. How the sex of an author informs his or her writing is indeed pertinent, but criticizing an author for being a certain sex just proves the source of the criticism [that's you, sir] to be a bloviating bigot.
The Law and Order: SVU ep “Identity” [season 6, ep 12], summarized earlier, features a bitten penis, gangbanging, homeless women, ID theft, an anti-graffitti task force, a pair of unusually identical twins, a sex therapist, a secret language, possible incest, violent siblings, possible lesbianism, unethical investigation of medical records, non-consensual gender reassignment of a minor, molestation by therapist and, finally, “the perfect crime.” Now that I’ve summarized the plot for you, I’m exhausted. No, seriously, it’s time to examine some of the deleterious assumptions at work in your average SVU ep.
Thesis: SVU pathologizes everything in sight.( Read more... )
Westboro Baptist Cult protesters are scheduled to protest for 50 minutes on March 20, from 11 AM - around noon, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. Pledge a set amount for every minute that the WBC dingdongs hang around, and, after they leave, your pledge will be multiplied for the total number of minutes that they stayed, and the total will be donated to Cambridge Cares About AIDS, a local organization for AIDS education and advocacy for PWAs. Go to the CCA Web site to pledge. Then go here and enter your donation information so that the amount that you pledge will be added to the total tally of money that the dingdongs are raising.
More depressingly, California passes Prop 8 to outlaw gay marriage; gay marriage bans are also passing in Arizona and Florida, while, in Arkansas, unmarried couples are now banned from being foster or adoptive parents. Ah, the good ol' USA, home to lip service of equality and practice of segregation. Why do these country's institutions hate people so much if they're not straight, white, rich, non-disabled men? No...seriously...why do this country's institutions so venomously and murderously despise most of its citizenry? I'm exhausted.
Assignment: Convert hatred to understanding and acceptance. Prognosis: Doubtful.
According to the copy, Svedka Vodka is right up there with clipping your toenails, taking out the trash, watching paint dry, doing laundry and all those other value-neutral activities that gay men would rather be doing than having sex with women. That's hardly a ringing endorsement. Heck, I don't even think this endorsement can reach the bell. If it does, it just bounces off like a foam ball, having made no sound on impact.
Svedka Vodka: Making useless, gratuitous, confrontational and meaningless comments about your sexuality since 2006.
So saith Perversion for Profit (1965), an anti-smut rant. "Newsprint filth" apparently weakens children's moral fiber, leaving them less capable to resist the Communist threat. With a few changes in stats and terminology [I doubt the Communist menace would fly really well today], I think this content would transpose very well into anti-porn propaganda put out by, say, Focus on the Family.
I'm not going to even argue with the mindset portrayed in the film, but I do seriously question its tactics. Announcer George Putnam wants you to believe that exposure to porn corrupts innocent minds and damns people irrevocably. So why does most of the film contain examples of porm?! Following the logic of Putnam's argument, wouldn't these examples [even if eyes, butts and tits are barred out] corrupt at least a few innocent minds? It would be far more effective for this film to attempt to tie porn to violent crime by studying the porn habits of child molesters, serial killers, rapists, domester abusers, etc., to establish a [supposed] causal connection between newsprint filth and criminal perversion. In other words, don't show us the perversion; show us the result!