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Are you a horrible person, or only pretending to be a horrible person?
July 31, 2014 12:06 PM   Subscribe


 
Not sure if it's just me, but I've tried to read the linked article on my phone 3 separate times & keep getting routed to the App Store.
posted by peep at 12:14 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


I prefer Personal Preference.

It's from the '80s, so every game features at least one instance of someone being like 'I don't know who Pia Zadora is.'
posted by box at 12:15 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've never really liked this game, because it struck me as both lazy and also "edgy" in the mean-spirited way that something like Family Guy is "edgy."
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:17 PM on July 31, 2014 [64 favorites]


A social group I am part of is constantly pulling out CAH toward the end of meets, and that's when I make my exit. That game wounds my hippie soul.

This article comes close to explaining why, but doesn't nail it exactly. There is just something so mean-spirited about it. I get that it's supposed to be shock humor and jokey and all that, but at its core, it's a bunch of people sitting around a table trying to push the envelope of acceptable as far as possible for the sake of scoring points, which is exactly the kind of movie and television I also avoid.

So, when the cards come out, I make excuses and head home. It feels like poison to me, and so I stay away.
posted by hippybear at 12:17 PM on July 31, 2014 [43 favorites]


Peep: me too. Also the page keeps reloading itself and taking me back to the top of the article and giving me another App Store redirect.
posted by rustcrumb at 12:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I want to believe that we’re all laughing at jokes about “black people” or “The Third World” purely because they’re horrible and not because some tiny part of us enjoys the schadenfreude of being able to make the joke and not be the one joked about [...] Cards Against Humanity is built on that wishful thinking.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


The author has a point that playing the game requires trusting the people around you.

This notion that "I'm not actually this terrible/racist/misogynist/hateful/violent - but, for the moment, this bit of terribleness/racism/misogyny/hate/violence is funny" is pretty skeevy.

But, at the same time, I think that doing that sometimes - within the confines of the game - kind of acts as a carnival, an upending of norms that you share with people (there's that trust thing) in a way that actually reinforces certain social boundaries: the acknowledgement that though we may find this funny, hey: it's wrong, and it's not tolerated in public.
posted by entropone at 12:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [26 favorites]


I shared my feelings on CAH approximately one year ago over on the green. I find today that my stance has not changed.
posted by phunniemee at 12:19 PM on July 31, 2014


This article comes close to explaining why, but doesn't nail it exactly. There is just something so mean-spirited about it. I get that it's supposed to be shock humor and jokey and all that, but at its core, it's a bunch of people sitting around a table trying to push the envelope of acceptable as far as possible for the sake of scoring points, which is exactly the kind of movie and television I also avoid.

At the same time, a lot of people (a LOT) like things like South Park and The Book of Mormon.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:20 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sure they do. There are a lot of things a lot of people like that I don't participate in. South Park is one of them.
posted by hippybear at 12:22 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I challenge each and every one of you to hold a conversation that doesn't tread the same ground as this thread.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:22 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize this was Arthur Chu at first. I love that he's continuing to speak up about problematic parts of geek culture and I totally agree with him here. CAH would be okay, I guess, if you were sure that everyone at the table had thought long and hard about how rape, the Holocaust, racism, etc. are not fucking funny in the real world but that's just not a given.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:24 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I disagree with his assessment of The Onion. Some of their recent and weaker articles go for easy surface-level jokes like that, but they used to go deep. What about "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule"?

Also, this:
Well, Cards Against Humanity isn’t a game for horrible people. It’s a game where people have fun by pretending to be horrible people.
And unlike with Temkin’s other game, this is a serious problem. Because unlike zombies, horrible people are all too real.


If I had to live my life with this level of earnestness 100% of the time I would suffocate. I don't make jokes that will knowingly hurt someone's feelings or go too far out if I don't know everyone really well but sometimes it's fun to pretend to be horrible when everyone is on the same page and has the same cultural references. It's necessary to be validated sometimes.
posted by bleep at 12:24 PM on July 31, 2014 [44 favorites]


I've never really liked this game, because it struck me as both lazy and also "edgy" in the mean-spirited way that something like Family Guy is "edgy."

I've played this game more than I care to admit because my friends seem to love it, but I've never, ever played a game where the winning pair didn't boil down to most "offensive" or "outrageous," which, sadly, is what seems to pass for subversive entertainment these oh Christ, I'm fucking old aren't I?
posted by echocollate at 12:24 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


You could play a borderline unfunny version of mad-libs or you could, like talk to each other.
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2014 [28 favorites]


Cards Against Humanity temporarily turns good people into bad people. It's just the worst.
posted by painquale at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2014


I only play this game if I'm prepared to lower the bar, and also if I'm prepared to see my friends in a light from which I will not be able to unsee them.

And like reddit it can make those jokes so many times until it's indistinguishable from garden-variety racism / sexism / etc.

While I'm on my soap box, I f*ing hate Russell Peters. All he has is accents. The stories are not funny. He's just riffing on cultural stereotypes. People think it's ok cus he's a brown guy from Toronto but he's racist and just not funny.

Yeah so I play CAH once every few years at a party, then have a moral hangover and then wash it from my mind.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:26 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


The article loads just fine on desktop Firefox. Maybe there's an abusive advertiser script on there that's badly trying to get you to buy an app?
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:26 PM on July 31, 2014


CAH is just not my idea of fun but I never really got Southpark or Family Guy either.
posted by octothorpe at 12:26 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can enjoy this game with the right people, but I think my actual problem with it is more that it feels so proscribed; the jokes are already pre-written and it feels like drawing the right card is more important than being clever or creative. If someone is inclined to think that "Helen Keller's tears" or whatever is a trump card and it doesn't matter when you play it, that sort of sucks.

Actually the best time I've ever had playing Cards Against Humanity was after a MeFi meetup when we went to someone's apartment and he had both Cards Against Humanity and the Worst Case Scenario game so we ended up playing Worst Case Scenario Against Humanity where you pulled a scenario card (like "What should you do if a crocodile attacks?") and had to answer with Cards Against Humanity cards. It made the game require a lot more creativity and was surprisingly fun.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:27 PM on July 31, 2014 [71 favorites]


As with the whole overuse of trigger warnings thing that got everybody pissed at Jack Halberstam, I stand squarely on the side of everybody-needs-to-lighten-the-fuck-up.

Oh, X isn't funny? Oh, Y isn't funny? Oh P, Q, R and S aren't funny? That's exactly the problem. Nothing is funny anymore.

People use humor to cope with uncomfortable truths. I've spent 11 years in a neighborhood with a murder problem, and a crime problem, and a heroin problem. There are jokes about murder, crime, and heroin that offend me, and there are jokes that don't. Mostly it depends on the true sentiments of who's telling them, and/or on their personal experience with living in a place like my neighborhood.

I also have some very real violence trauma in my past, and I'm capable of being triggered. And I'm capable of finding a joke about violence trauma very unfunny. But I'll be damned if I try to police someone else's right to tell that joke, even if it triggered me. I'd only get outspoken if it was abundantly clear such a joke was intended in a vitriolic way.

Also, going out of your way to concoct the most offensive possible Cards Against Humanity play is not evidence of insensitivity. It's often evidence that one knows what is offensive, what should in other circumstances be forbidden. It's also a safety valve, a place to say what must never be said. I honestly think it should be more offensive and that they should put back any cards that have been removed due to protest. That feminist add-on that popped up a while back is awesome too.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:27 PM on July 31, 2014 [104 favorites]


Well, Faint of Butt, I guess it took all of a couple minutes until the censorship card was played (pun intended).
posted by zombieflanders at 12:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


At the same time, a lot of people (a LOT) like things like South Park and The Book of Mormon.

OK hi, I am a person who loves South Park. I started watching it when I was in 6th grade and I've seen every episode a few times. I think South Park is great.

If you actually watch South Park, one of the things you notice is that there are a small handful of reasonable voices in the show (Stan is one, Wendy is another, Kyle only occasionally). Everyone else is shown time and time again to be either abysmally stupid or an asshole. The show doesn't hide this. Stan and Wendy both get to say really insightful things while everyone else around them is terrible.

There is nothing insightful about Cards Against Humanity. It fails as satire because (like the article says) it requires everyone to get the joke in order for it to be a joke. There is no voice of reason.

If you don't believe me about South Park, go watch the Hobbit episode from this last season. It's absolutely heartbreaking.
posted by phunniemee at 12:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [18 favorites]


If you have dirty minds, you can play Apples to Apples Kids Edition and make it dirty.
posted by smackfu at 12:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Love this article - no surprise that it's written by the thoughtful (and funny) Arthur Chu.

in a way that actually reinforces certain social boundaries: the acknowledgement that though we may find this funny, hey: it's wrong, and it's not tolerated in public.

Isn't this exactly what Chu is addressing? There's really no way of being sure that someone you're sitting down with isn't a pedophile (a card that's still in the deck), and are taking a completely different message from all their friends sitting around and joking about pedophilia being "Batman's Guilty Pleasure" or whatever. (I note, by the way, that many of the rape jokes that were supposedly removed from the deck still seem to be in the printable PDF).
posted by muddgirl at 12:30 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, Faint of Butt, I guess it took all of a couple minutes until the censorship card was played (pun intended).

I didn't see that challenge. But had I, I would've broken the dare faster. This is totally about hypersensitivity in a context where it's unwarranted.

There is no voice of reason.
Sometimes there shouldn't be. A game of Cards Against Humanity with smart and sane friends is one of those times.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:31 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I always imagine with something like this that if people could all be unidentified or post anonymously while still posting in good faith, you'd get a better read on the mood/thoughts of everyone on the topic.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:32 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


There is no voice of reason.

Presumably you are only playing this game with people who are smart enough to get the joke.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:32 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who's calling for censorship? Arthur Chu? I don't see it.
posted by muddgirl at 12:32 PM on July 31, 2014


Faint of Butt:
I challenge each and every one of you to hold a conversation that doesn't tread the same ground as this thread.
How can we NOT talk about vast howling expanses of peen?
posted by charred husk at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have lots of fun in CAH but my issue with it is that the fun relies on surprise, not strategy. That's why the decks keep multiplying. It's funny the first time someone plays Anne Frank or something, because you think "oh, Jesus..." - the point is to make the joke you think the person judging will think is the best/worst because it is offensive in a subtle or clever way. At least that's how we play it. But you can only ever see the Anne Frank card for the first time once, and after that it's much more difficult to come up with a horrible joke that's also novel. It just becomes puzzle pieces that fit together in various ways, and you learn to expect certain cards or questions, etc etc.

If people are being genuinely horrible in the game, I think they're missing the point, though of course the game doesn't do much to correct that. I had a group playing near me at a bar recently and their version was pretty ugly. So I sympathize, but I'll still be happy to bring it out once or twice a year with my good friends and get a few "oh god" moments out of it.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2014 [17 favorites]


I didn't see that challenge. But had I, I would've broken the dare faster. This is totally about hypersensitivity in a context where it's unwarranted.

Do you not see the irony in being so offended by people who choose not to play a game because it's offensive that you apparently want to make cards just so people can discard them so you can be further offended?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


This article might as well have been talking about my personality 10 years ago. Thanks for posting.
posted by rebent at 12:34 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


By taking the joke “literally” Suey Park was attacking us by questioning our “Of course I’m not racist” cred, by daring to ask whether we might be the “wrong” audience for such a joke.


What a horrible example. The entire point of the joke she was attacking was against racism. Which she decided was racist.

She has actively discouraged attacking racism.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yes, everyone who plays this game in participating in a culture that encourages racism, sexism, and genocide. A world where we never joked about these things would be infinitely better. Just imagine it.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


People who don't like this game get framed as think-of-the-children hypersensitive busybodies, when in reality, the reason I think it's not funny is because it's not fucking funny. Not "too offensive to be funny"- just not funny.

Cards Against Humanity is what happens when the types of nerds who endlessly quote Monty Python in lieu of making up their own jokes discover Reddit and crowdfunding.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2014 [73 favorites]


Do you not see the irony in being so offended by people who choose not to play a game because it's offensive that you apparently want to make cards just so people can discard them so you can be further offended?

I don't necessarily have a problem with people who don't want to play it. The issue is the rising tide of hypersensitivity in general. This is part of that.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Presumably you are only playing this game with people who are smart enough to get the joke.

There is no joke! That's the problem! The joke is just HA HA WE ARE WHITE I CAN'T EVEN. It's just a lazy and stupid game.
posted by phunniemee at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


I challenge each and every one of you to hold a conversation that doesn't tread the same ground as this thread.

I am going to fail that challenge because this tweet from Greg Nog, linked in the last thread, is worth repeating.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:37 PM on July 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


This is totally about hypersensitivity in a context where it's unwarranted.

I agree completely. Fans of a card game that literally bills itself as being for terrible people keep getting their feathers ruffled when it's examined and declared to be terrible.

If that's not "unwarranted hypersensitivity," I don't know what is.
posted by verb at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [29 favorites]


Have never played it myself, but I found one of the cards on the street the other day. It was 'a bitch slap'. I dunno, I found it pretty funny. Maybe that's a new way to play, just scatter the cards around randomly.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


here is no joke! That's the problem! The joke is just HA HA WE ARE WHITE I CAN'T EVEN. It's just a lazy and stupid game.

Okay? I mean, no, it isn't. Maybe in your opinion. But it's the same type of humor, like I said, in The Book of Mormon, which just won a Best Musical Tony a few years ago.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


My main problem with the article is why does it call Max Tempkin's letter vague and deflecting? It is anything but. It is quite direct.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [22 favorites]


I’ve been wondering if satire isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

It's nice, at least, that he's so open about the completely preposterous consequences of his position. Perhaps the first open member of the League of the Always Moralistically Earnest!
posted by RogerB at 12:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


Cards Against Humanity is what happens when the types of nerds who endlessly quote Monty Python in lieu of making up their own jokes discover Reddit and crowdfunding.

Oh man this is actually a really good description -- as I said before, I've enjoyed playing okay, but half the time the joke seems to be the creators of the game being like "I THOUGHT OF THIS CARD" and not the actual use of the card in context.

I may also be bitter because I pay a lot of attention to the cadence of my answers and this artistry remains unappreciated. We also play with "Humboldt rules" which is to say Humboldt, my stuffed squid, adds a random card to the answers each round. Humboldt does surprisingly well at this game, further proving the above point.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [16 favorites]


Oh oh oh wait wait no I've got it.

The joke. Here is the joke. This is what the joke is.

You know when you're a kid and you get to go on a trip with a bunch of other kids like for camp or something and there aren't any parents? And so all the kids just yell "SHIT!!!" at the top of their lungs because holy crap there's no one here to tell you not to curse? And it's just SO MUCH FUN, all this FREEDOM to be HORRIBLE with NO CONSEQUENCES?!?!

Well, it's like that, only you're the kid whose parents don't care if they curse so it's no big deal, and you're just looking around like wait, this is entertaining? This is what is entertaining to you people? And you look out the window to look for the next mile marker to see how much more of this you have to endure and then you sigh and dejectedly slip on your headphones and pull out a book.

That is what this game is.
posted by phunniemee at 12:40 PM on July 31, 2014 [73 favorites]


I'm an awful person. I make a lot of abortion jokes in real life (well - again - amongst my friends)... most people groan. It's related to my Pro-Life upbringing.

In the same way, and I am much more horrible, I think, for this, I make holocaust jokes now and then. The complex here comes from : Abortion Pro-Life comparisons to Hitler/Genocide propaganda. Combined with a religious mother who views Israel as special and the Jews as "God's Chosen People"... Combined with the sort of black humor that one uses to diffuse the utter terror and horror of the world as it is, with the obviousness that (amongst most sane/rational people at least, and certainly amongst my friends) that Nazis are pretty disgusting and genocide/war crimes even more so.

That said, my friends are more PC than me. One is what one might call a "Social Justice Warrior" on the intertubes, and she plays it with us, but she certainly doesn't feel good after it.

I can't explain why I like playing it -- I think one reason, beyond the "ick" factor and offensiveness is the act of surprise. The cards are written now and then for some combos that are just made for each other. So that element of surprise is what makes the game what it is - and I think, in many ways, that's where the real humor comes in, not so much the offensiveness (though the surprise tends to be the most offensive because the matches were "made for each other" and thus even stronger in offense).

Or maybe I need to check my privilege and realize I'm an asshole.
posted by symbioid at 12:40 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


But it's the same type of humor, like I said, in The Book of Mormon, which just won a Best Musical Tony a few years ago.

And a black truffle is the same kind of food as the soggy canned mushrooms on a school cafeteria pizza.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


half the time the joke seems to be the creators of the game being like "I THOUGHT OF THIS CARD" and not the actual use of the card in context.

I guess I'm lucky enough to play it with people who are way more likely to reward use in context than they are to just let someone use "pooping back and forth, forever" as a trump card because ha ha poop.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [14 favorites]


People are always welcome to play funny but non-offensive cards (and this is possible; many of the cards can be played tastefully and amusingly). They're also welcome to create their own cards - blanks are provided for exactly that purpose.

Personally, I love that it's entirely possible to play the game more than one way, and it's a good way for clever people to exercise their creativity and come up with amusing juxtapositions or even new questions and answers that subvert X-ist paradigms. I'm always in favor of ingenuity over censuring/censoring.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


I really didn't find the game humorous when I tried it. Felt very hipstery to me. I don't think I laughed once. Just wondered why it was a game at all. Is there really an objective? Maybe if you've smoked a bowl of crack it would be amusing for about 3 minutes. I just found myself wanting to play anything else BUT that.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


She has actively discouraged attacking racism.

She was criticizing the method that Colbert used to attack racism, because people who watch the Colbert show may not be in on the joke. That's the whole freaking point of the article.

Yes, everyone who plays this game in participating in a culture that encourages racism, sexism, and genocide. A world where we never joked about these things would be infinitely better. Just imagine it.

Is it possible to tell jokes about racism, sexism, and genocide from a different perspective than Cards Against Humanity? I think so. I think this joke about racism is pretty hilarious.
posted by muddgirl at 12:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


German Whist, takes seconds to learn, for two players, and if you miss the experience you can add "... A bucket of cocks" to the end of each hand.
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not a fan of this game philosophically. But the one time I played it, I fucking crushed. It's hard to hate winning. Also, it gave me the opportunity to explain the word "smegma" to a mixed crowd.

Also I am fucking SICK of their dumb podcast non-ads. "This podcast is brought to you by Cards Against Humanity. They asked us not to read an ad."

thirdly, fuck Family Guy.
posted by mullacc at 12:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


People are always welcome to play funny but non-offensive cards (and this is possible; many of the cards can be played tastefully and amusingly).

Isn't this just Apples to Apples, then?
posted by muddgirl at 12:43 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think ReeMonster is right, we should go back to what makes parties fun namely party drugs.
posted by The Whelk at 12:43 PM on July 31, 2014 [35 favorites]


Cards Against Humanity is what happens when the types of nerds who endlessly quote Monty Python

hey now
posted by echocollate at 12:44 PM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


sometimes there's unexpected funny combinations1 But for the most part, the observation that the game isn't for straightforwardly horrible people, but that instead it's for people who like to giggle at dirty phrases while thinking of themselves as harmless is spot-on, insightful, and gets at why there's this deep fundamentally disingenuous lameness at the core of the whole endeavor.

1: Okay, so mostly I'm only making this comment because I'm proud of the time I played "kamikaze pilots" as a response to "______, good to the last drop."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:44 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


Interesting, we're talking about the game when the article starts off about a rape accusation.

Which makes me think about the earlier thread about sexual harassment at Cons.

I really really really want to believe that the rapist who thinks it's okay to have sex with a classmate who is too drunk to consent can grow up to be horrified at his behavior and not only never assault anyone again, but also help change the attitude that sex with someone who is too drunk to consent is not rape.

But ironic jokes (or "ironic jokes") about rape don't jibe with that belief. They really don't because you can't test that your joke is hitting the mark and not just entrenching rape culture. I find the trust-fall analogy in that article really interesting. Dogwhistles whistle for progressives, too; it's just at a different pitch.

Humor's hard. Humor about offensive subjects is hard. I'm not sure CAH hits the mark.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


Isn't this just Apples to Apples, then?

I actually think the main thing that makes Cards Against Humanity better is having questions instead of just single words (and I really like the cards with two blanks). I actually think Cards Against Humanity prompts with Apples to Apples answers might be ideal because then you are answering a question instead of just free associating and it's ACTUALLY funny and clever if you come up with something weirdly appropriate.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, it's like that, only you're the kid whose parents don't care if they curse so it's no big deal, and you're just looking around like wait, this is entertaining? This is what is entertaining to you people? And you look out the window to look for the next mile marker to see how much more of this you have to endure and then you sigh and dejectedly slip on your headphones and pull out a book.

Sighing dejectedly at the unsophistication of people who are enjoying themselves at some verbal diversion, which you simply can't enjoy because your parents were just a little smarter and more sophisticated than theirs, whilst safely encased in music and ensconced in a tome, is a bit insufferable.
posted by clockzero at 12:46 PM on July 31, 2014 [20 favorites]


Humboldt does surprisingly well at this game, further proving the above point.

Humboldt regularly beats me, so let's not assume this proves anything. Humboldt is just very good at the game.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:46 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Or maybe I need to check my privilege and realize I'm an asshole.

That's the thing. What if I'm not living in some incredibly privileged, selfish suburban existence, what if I actually have plenty of exposure and understanding of class and privilege issues? And what if I have actually already checked my privilege, considered it carefully, and decided that, specifically only in this context, everybody still needs to lighten the fuck up?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:46 PM on July 31, 2014 [45 favorites]


Before I read the article I was expecting it to attack Cards Against Humanity from a game design perspective. The first few games of Cards Against that I played were... middling. And each successive game was less interesting. I agree with BlackLeotardFront that most of the game's humor comes from novelty. Once you've seen the same deck of cards a few times there's nothing to it.

But more egregiously than that, Cards Against just doesn't allow room for meaningful creativity. Yes, you can combine cards in a somewhat novel way, and on very rare occasions there's room for subtle jokes, but for the most part you're just sticking someone else's pre-written jokes together.

There are plenty of similar party games that allow for much more meaningful player creativity. Say Anything provides a prompt, and players are all given whiteboards and markers to write absolutely any answer they can think of. Snake Oil has the judge take on a role (vampire, caveman, astronaut, etc) and the other players have to combine two nouns to form a product and then make a sales pitch to her. These games have much higher replay value because you'll never run out of potential answers. And they allow players to actually express themselves. Plus, you can set your own standards for how filthy and offensive you want to be.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:47 PM on July 31, 2014 [24 favorites]


... it's for people who like to giggle at dirty phrases while thinking of themselves as harmless ...

Y'all are definitely playing the game with different people than I do.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also I am fucking SICK of their dumb podcast non-ads. "This podcast is brought to you by Cards Against Humanity. They asked us not to read an ad."

It's all good until Brian Posehn misses the point and goes on for an extra minute about how cool that was of them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find the conversation on whether or not the game is funny way off topic... but I can't help it soooo... playing with funny people will produce better results than playing with not funny people. No game or product is capable of just making someone funny.

Luckily, the one time I played it, I played with hilarious people and it was fine. I would not play it with a lot of people.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: And what if I have actually already checked my privilege, considered it carefully, and decided that, specifically only in this context, everybody still needs to lighten the fuck up?

Then you are hereby allowed to think that. Not everyone has to agree with you.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2014 [16 favorites]


Granted I haven't played in years, but I thought the article was way off the mark. CAH operates beyond one-note satire. With the right group (that's crucial, admittedly) no one is getting all the points for being shocking or 'horrible.' It's more about being clever. It's more about using horribleness to subvert horribleness. It's more about gallows humor, because shit is terrible all around and we can at least take a moment to laugh together and commiserate. It's not the equivalent of ironic racism, there's something else at work. It creates a temporary liminal space in your social circle that can be enlightening and either bond-forming or bond-weakening and it's an interesting phenomenon. At its best it creates a safe way for topics to be broached within your circle that otherwise would never come up. Like if class is the elephant in the room, puncturing those bubbles (and showing that you're willing to puncture those bubbles) is entirely possible within the game, and can be a healthy non-intrusive experience. It's all about the invisible communication with this game. Play is never 'just play' with something like this. Social games can be about learning more about the people in your milieu and what their concerns are, what they laugh a little bit too eagerly at, what they're uncomfortable with.

Now all that is predicated on being with a mostly good group. I can imagine situations and groups where the game turns awful, off-putting and even triggering. But the Chapelle show comparison is accurate. That show still has value as humor and pointed commentary, even if by all accounts it was ruined by assholes who loved it for all the wrong reasons. CAH might be good at sussing out who the for-real horrible people in your group are and it can have social value in the guise of light-hearted play.

There are certainly reasons to have reservations about it as a progressive, and to be careful with how you play it (definitely discard cards that go too far) and who you play it with. But I think Chu has an uncharitable tone and doesn't get it right.
posted by naju at 12:49 PM on July 31, 2014 [69 favorites]


phunniemee, did CAH kill your parents in an alley when you were a child or something?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:50 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


People are always welcome to play funny but non-offensive cards (and this is possible; many of the cards can be played tastefully and amusingly).
**
Isn't this just Apples to Apples, then?


Yup. Both games can be played cheaply, or cleverly & subtly.
posted by entropone at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2014


It really depends on who you are playing with. I would say only a quarter of the white cards are offensive or shock jokes, and most of the prompt cards leave room for a variety of punch lines (a lot of them can be funnier with something mundane, such as "Major League Baseball has banned [blank] for giving players an unfair advantage"). If everyone you play with ignores the context and always goes with the most outrageous card, it can be pretty boring and unfunny.

Also, I wish there were more of a variety of party board games in general that directly involve coming up with jokes. There's basically just Cards Against Humanity and a few random games where you write down captions for stuff.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


... it's for people who like to giggle at dirty phrases while thinking of themselves as harmless ...

Y'all are definitely playing the game with different people than I do.


But I mean, I'm guessing the friends you're playing with aren't actually rapists or murderers or whatever and don't actually think of themselves as horrible. Because all of whatever humor exists in the Family Guy look-at-the-transgressive-thing-I'm-saying mode is undermined when the person saying the transgressive thing has actually done horrible things to other people.

In a certain sense, CAH is a game for people psychologically young/undamaged/privileged enough that rape and racism and ableism and homophobia and the patriarchy and general life-fuckeduppedness haven't yet left a mark on them.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2014 [19 favorites]


I can't help but think that there are better ways to create liminal spaces for discussing class issues than Lol DickShitting: The Game
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


phunniemee, did CAH kill your parents in an alley when you were a child or something?

Yes it did. I am glad that you grasp the gravity of this situation.
posted by phunniemee at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2014 [34 favorites]


smackfu: If you have dirty minds, you can play Apples to Apples Kids Edition and make it dirty.

You can make any family game dirty, with a little innuendo, smirking, and eyebrow raising, with some gentle elbowing. Know whatahmean, know whatahmean, nudge nudge, know whatahmean, say no more?

Loaded Questions is an easy example, though if you're the only one in the group who takes it that way, it's pretty easy to pin your answers on you (and then by comparison, everyone else's answers become pretty dull pretty fast).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:54 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Then you are hereby allowed to think that. Not everyone has to agree with you.

The broader point is that "check your privilege" and/or "you're derailing" and/or a few other stock phrases used by a certain faction do have some real value, but there are times when they are presumed by that faction to be trump cards that automatically invalidate the points made by an opposing argument.

And well, after 11 years in the bay area, I have decided there are just going to be times when I get respectfully decline to honor that attempt at playing a trump card.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:54 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


phunniemee, did CAH kill your parents in an alley when you were a child or something?

Cards Against Batmanity.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [38 favorites]


CAH is a game for that can be used by people psychologically young/undamaged/privileged enough ...

That's not even a snide "FTFY", it's an honestly-meant correction on my part.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2014


I wrote and performed sketch comedy for years.

CAH has always struck me as like catnip for people who really aren't funny. I saw this a million times during auditions: A terrible comedian injects something utterly tasteless like 'JEW ABORTION HOLOCAUST' into your standard airplane-food-level commentary.

Yeah, you'll get some shocked laughs at a taboo violation. Usually.

Now audition these guys for four hours straight, and the fifth time somebody lays a 'JEW ABORTION HOLOCAUST' out there, it's not funny. It's negative funny.

CAH has struck me as exactly like this. It's a prop and a security blanket for those folks who wear novelty LOLCATS t-shirts. Randomness will occasionally spit out some taboo violation that is amusing.

The whole project has struck me as sort of cheap and lame from the get go. Glad to see that I'm not alone.
posted by mrdaneri at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [25 favorites]


But I mean, I'm guessing the friends you're playing with aren't actually rapists or murderers or whatever and don't actually think of themselves as horrible.

My issue has always been (and Chu's recently-discovered issue is now) - do I actually know this? It's not like date rapists or pedophiles wear nametags.

The broader point is that "check your privilege" and/or "you're derailing" and/or a few other stock phrases used by a certain faction do have some real value, but there are times when they are presumed by that faction to be trump cards that automatically invalidate the points made by an opposing argument.

No one here told you to "check your privilege" or "you're derailing." Not even Arthur Chu, whose essay we're discussing right now. I don't see the value in complaining about rhetorical tactics that you don't seem to be currently facing.
posted by muddgirl at 12:57 PM on July 31, 2014 [22 favorites]


That's the thing. What if I'm not living in some incredibly privileged, selfish suburban existence, what if I actually have plenty of exposure and understanding of class and privilege issues? And what if I have actually already checked my privilege, considered it carefully, and decided that, specifically only in this context, everybody still needs to lighten the fuck up?

Hectoring people about not playing the game, or playing with cards they don't like because they disagree with you, or crying censorship when they don't listen to you seems like the opposite of lightening the fuck up. Especially when it's people who don't share your life experience (i.e., everyone) or perspective.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:57 PM on July 31, 2014 [19 favorites]


Okay, gonna throw something out there: maybe the deal with Cards Against Humanity is that it's kitsch, in Kundera's "denial of shit" sense. The rape jokes and the general misogyny and racism and homophobia only makes sense for people who feel comfortable denying all that shit, because they're living in a universe where none of that shit has touched them.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:57 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm not doing anything of the sort. I object to being hectored for finding it fun, being hectored for finding dangerous jokes fun. I relate it to this thing that happens a lot in the Bay Area where people who object to being tone policed somehow have no qualms about appointing themselves to be the thought police.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:59 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


CAH is more fun if you imagine that you're actually offending people's sensitivities while you play it.

So keep these articles coming!
posted by seymourScagnetti at 1:00 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, I've performed stand up to some success at various points in my life.

I think CAH is kind of a great game because the whole point is assessing what you think the person judging will find funny. Being able to read people like that is what makes or breaks good comedy.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have lots of fun in CAH but my issue with it is that the fun relies on surprise, not strategy. That's why the decks keep multiplying. It's funny the first time someone plays Anne Frank or something, because you think "oh, Jesus..." - the point is to make the joke you think the person judging will think is the best/worst because it is offensive in a subtle or clever way. At least that's how we play it. But you can only ever see the Anne Frank card for the first time once, and after that it's much more difficult to come up with a horrible joke that's also novel. It just becomes puzzle pieces that fit together in various ways, and you learn to expect certain cards or questions, etc etc.

My problem with Cards against Humanity is that you can only play it either with people with whom you've never played it before, or with people with whom you have played it before.

If you're playing the game with new people, all of these criticisms hold plenty of water; it's a transgression set within presumed boundaries of leeway and common tastes. It's similar to a scene in the kink sense of the word. People are roleplaying being a racist or a sexist or whatever. But it's usually not a very good scene, because the boundaries aren't explicit, because there is no communication of consent or ability to withdraw consent easily, and to introduce those things would be to defeat the entire point of the "edginess" and transgression. If everyone started a game of CaH by laying out explicitly what they're comfortable with and what their safewords or parachutes are, it wouldn't be a funny game, because the game relies on presuming those things without communicating them. It's not a way to explore or experience a role, because the game also relies on the phoniness of that role; that everyone already knows that you're "not like that". So it's a scene where everyone is playing a role that they're constantly signaling isn't real, with no defined escape route if it becomes anything like real -- because while people just love to play at being a racist or sexist, no one especially wants to play at being the recipient of racism or sexism. If it starts feeling real, you're also implying that the roles aren't fake, and the roles have to be fake for the game to work at all. But introducing the idea that people might take something in the game seriously ruins the point of the game. So that's not great.

If you're playing the game with familiar people, some of those things may be more explicitly understood or more easily allowed. But now, the cards are so specific and so frequently memorable in their phrasing that you pretty much know every card in the deck by heart after a game or two. Very quickly, every group has their favorite cards, and more importantly, every group has their favorite cards to play for each scenario. The game becomes "who drew the answer we all like for this question we're familiar with?" I can't count the number of times I've said something like, "oh, it would have been cool to play [this card]", and everyone goes, "yeah, that would have won." If you already know the statements, and you already know what you'd most like to fill the blanks with...what's the game, exactly?

So yeah, I'm not a big fan.
posted by Errant at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


If everyone you play with ignores the context and always goes with the most outrageous card, it can be pretty boring and unfunny.

This has been my experience too. When I played with with a group who turned it into a competition to be the most outrageous it was really disappointing and uncomfortable.

There are a lot of comments on this thread that just do not match my experiences playing this game with friends, though. Racism, homophobia, and misogyny being winners? People playing only because they haven't been affected by those things? Nope.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:02 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I object to being hectored for finding it fun, being hectored for finding dangerous jokes fun.

And here's the deal — kitsch is the opposite of dangerous, and CAH is kitsch.1

1: Check that. Kitsch is the opposite of, like, sexy dangerous, or cool dangerous. Whatever danger exists in it is the danger of obliviousness.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:02 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


"If you actually watch South Park, one of the things you notice is that there are a small handful of reasonable voices in the show (Stan is one, Wendy is another, Kyle only occasionally). Everyone else is shown time and time again to be either abysmally stupid or an asshole. The show doesn't hide this. Stan and Wendy both get to say really insightful things while everyone else around them is terrible."

Hah. I am watching South Park in an epic "watching all damn seventeen seasons on Hulu" marathon this summer, which is...pretty crazy and mentally buggered at times. Plus I actually threw up watching "Fat Camp" last night, so FUN TIMEZ THERE. But yeah, that show is a mix of things that make you think and reasonableness, in a morass of "this is hella stupid." Another thing that made me lose it last night was the part where Chef had James Taylor come out and sing about how all women are whores who are trying to get something out of you by giving sex. I was glaring at the screen...and then was all, "Oh, right, it's freaking South Park, what did I expect here? This is the show that keeps going on and on about child molestation."
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:03 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


The rape jokes and the general misogyny and racism and homophobia only makes sense for people who feel comfortable denying all that shit.

This is precisely why the feminist card set is essential. And why there need to be more cards that are designed to offend straight people, men, cis people and white people. Cards that are designed to make the privileged feel specifically uncomfortable about their privilege. Castration jokes. Emasculation jokes. Bring it!
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 1:03 PM on July 31, 2014 [33 favorites]


Before I read the article I was expecting it to attack Cards Against Humanity from a game design perspective.

Your critique mostly applies to Apples to Apples too. I loved that game at first, but most of the fun depends on the novelty of the cards (and somewhat on the novelty yet familiarity of the people you're playing with). An online version could keep the content fresh but I don't think it would be as much fun socially.


I stopped playing Borderlands 2 not long after the Sandy Hook shooting, because blowing the faces off of bandits and setting mutant midgets on fire, accompanied by the automatic snide commentary and laughter of the character you control... no, that wasn't fun anymore.

My attitude toward CAH is pretty much the same. I'm done with shock humor, not because I have suddenly turned into a boring prude, but because -- like the design of the card game itself -- it depends on novelty and there's no novelty in it anymore.
posted by Foosnark at 1:04 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not doing anything of the sort. I object to being hectored for finding it fun, being hectored for finding dangerous jokes fun.

No one here is hectoring you for it, they're saying it's not for them. It's weird that someone so upset about hypersensitivity is doing such a good job at illustrating it.

I relate it to this thing that happens a lot in the Bay Area where people who object to being tone policed somehow have no qualms about appointing themselves to be the thought police.

No one is policing anyone but themselves, dude.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:04 PM on July 31, 2014 [21 favorites]


this thing that happens a lot in the Bay Area where people who object to being tone policed somehow have no qualms about appointing themselves to be the thought police

Cads Against Hilarity
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:05 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


symboid: I definitely hear you, having grown up in similar fundamentalist circles where all of those sacred cows you describe were very much in play. The transgressive desire to say, "Fuck that. I'm making jokes about dead babies" is a strong one, and there's a cathartic effect that is often overlooked.

I've been contemplating the whole Cards Against Humanity thing for a while; I own the core set, most of the expansions, and have a card with my name on it from their Christmas promotion. Despite my snarky comment upthread about "hypersensitive" fans, I count myself among one-time enthusiastic CAH players.

At least, I did when I was playing with a certain circle of friends. As others have said upthread, the genius of CAH is that it takes a pretty vanilla sort of game format, designed to be inoffensively fun, and buries it under a pile of hot-button uncomfortable topics, crude one-liners, pop culture and history references, and so on. When I first started playing, a really fun game of Cards Against Humanity was one in which the players knew each other and were stretching to turn their cards into horribly dark humor about the human condition, or snark about the founding fathers, or surrealist parody of Hot Pockets™ marketing, or whatever. Play is really fun when it's a symphony of bizarre and unexpected connections, and the "shock-value" cards are an infrequently used tool of juxtaposition.

I'm not saying that it's some kind of art form, or that the infamous "Pac-Man Guzzling Cum" card is some kind of deeply insightful work of genuius. But the hilarity in those games of CAH was in the unexpected connections and subversions of paired ideas, not in the thrill of making racist comments or saying naughty words.

At least, that's what I thought.

What I found, more and more, was that there are a lot of people who really enjoy the thrill of getting to say racist things or saying naughty words or saying, "Hahah! Rape!" as the answer to a question about what Santa Claus gives naughty kids. They enjoy saying horrible things and they believe that everyone else loves saying horrible things, and that there's no harm to it, and that the only reason everyone doesn't always make jokes about the jews being greedy or blacks being lazy or rape being funny is that they're just too uptight or afraid of what people will think.

These people treat a game of Cards Against Humanity like some kind of fucking Purge night, and playing with them made me realize just how much self-censorship was engaged in by the "core" group of friends I'd discovered it with. It banks on the kind of wink-wink ironic racism and misogyny and violence that is ugliest about progressive hipsterism. Even more troubling, and this is what I realized after a few of those really "ugly" games, it does so in a way that is indistinguishable from actual racism and misogyny. It does so in a way that tells racists and misogynists, "You're secretly hilarious, and when everyone lets their hair down, they admit you're hilarious, too."

Obviously, everyone's free to say I'm a boring stick in the mud and that I'm trying to ruin everyone's fun and that CAH is really actually super-ultra-anti-racist and only the incredible stupids don't get that and it doesn't matter anyways, etc. But I want to make clear that I'm not a knee-jerk tut-tutter, horrified that someone would say bad words or be "politically incorrect." I'm someone who played a lot of CAH and had to uncomfortably re-assess how it played out in real actual games in bars and living rooms and basements and hotel lobbies with friends and acquaintances and drunk buddies and so on.

The format of the game, and its potential for zany intelligent hilarity, is absolutely real. But the actual cards produced by CAH produce deeply problematic evenings, in the same way that unbalanced skills produce broken MMORPGs. I don't have to make a value judgement about the game's creators or the people who say they play it in perfectly OK ways to be troubled by that stuff.
posted by verb at 1:06 PM on July 31, 2014 [117 favorites]


I play and enjoy this game.

I don't understand Chu's argument.

Temkin offered to make the Cards Against Humanity booth a 'safe space' for sexual assault survivors during the Penny Arcade Expo, and did this with a totally straight face despite 'Date rape', 'Roofies' and 'Surprise sex' all being cards in Cards Against Humanity at some point in time.

I don't see the contradiction there. There is a vast gulf of difference between actual date rape, and a piece of cardboard with the words "date rape" printed on it as part of a blackly satirical game. Just as there is a vast difference between "A Modest Proposal", and actually eating children.

(Like everyone else except for Temkin and his accuser, I have no way of knowing whether or not he's a rapist. If he is, then there's certainly an irony in that, and not a pleasant one.)

(Max Temkin did publicly apologize for certain cards and remove them from the deck a while ago, including the original "Date rape" and "Roofies" cards. However, if you look at the free PDF of Cards Against Humanity online, the cards "Pedophiles," "Surprise sex!" and "Copping a feel" are still there.)

So are cards about genocide, and plenty of other horrible things. I've never understood why sexual crime gets singled out for special censure in cases like this. People understand that satire or black humor (or whatever you want to call it) about eating children, mass murder, or any number of other atrocities isn't actually endorsing the practice (even if they don't personally enjoy the black humor of it)—but if you mention rape, suddenly that's beyond the pale, and you're probably a secret misogynist whose laughter comes from a deep contempt for rape victims.

(There are, of course, shitty and ugly ways to "joke" about rape, or any of the other things I just mentioned, and people who do that can fuck right off. What I'm talking about is the notion that certain topics are just absolutely off-limits for the black-humor treatment, no matter how that humor is meant or taken, because...why?)

Well, even if I only ever play with close friends that I trust, that’s no guarantee—I really, really don’t want to think any of my friends are rapists, but how would I know?

Because if you consider someone a "close friend that you trust", presumably you're pretty confident that they're not a rapist? Unless there's an overlap in your Venn diagram of "people I consider friends" and "people I think might be rapists"? Kinda glad that Arthur Chu doesn't consider me a friend.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:08 PM on July 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


We are, I know not how, double in ourselves,
so that what we believe we disbelieve,
and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.
Montaigne

This. No matter what we tell ourselves otherwise,
we are all unsure of how deeply the dark lurks
below our own surface. All of these societal constraints
to behavior are very new to an animal whose roots
run very deep into violence and depravity. No wonder
it makes us uneasy to play at it.
posted by ackptui at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've never understood why sexual crime gets singled out for special censure in cases like this.

Because there's a much higher chance that someone in your social circle has been raped than there is that someone's baby has been fed to rich people.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [53 favorites]


CAH is no different to any other board game, card game or RPG - it's fun with the right people.

With the wrong people, it'll be miserable - just like playing Monopoly with the wrong people can be awful, or Boggle, or Apples to Apples, or anything else. Making grand sweeping conclusions about people just because they happen to have found a way to enjoy a particular game with friends is ridiculous, and that act (far more than CAH) turns "good people into bad people" pretty quickly.

As a sidenote, I thought the guy's blog post on the accusations was pretty clear and a good way of addressing the whole issue. I don't know where Arthur Chu really got all of that "vague, deflecting non-apology" from.
posted by dvrmmr at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


It was explicitely a non-apology, dvrmmr. It was a denial of the accusation. You can't both deny that you raped someone and apologize for it at the same time. I agree that it was neither vague nor deflecting, but it was also a non-apology.
posted by muddgirl at 1:12 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because if you consider someone a "close friend that you trust", presumably you're pretty confident that they're not a rapist?

Rapists convince people that they would never rape or never have raped anyone all the damn time. Some don't even consider what they did to be rape (or at least, not at the time). You know, like Max Temkin, if perhaps you weren't able to connect those particular dots.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


Because if you consider someone a "close friend that you trust", presumably you're pretty confident that they're not a rapist? Unless there's an overlap in your Venn diagram of "people I consider friends" and "people I think might be a rapist"? Kinda glad that Arthur Chu doesn't consider me a friend.

Someone is out there being friends with rapists. We'd all like to think it's not us, but some of us are undoubtedly wrong.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2014 [35 favorites]


Is this game one of those "equal opportunity offender" type things where it makes fun of everyone but the people involved?
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2014


I'm just sittin over here all full of lols at you people getting bent out of shape about what debbie downer party guests we all are. I'd venture to guess that I'm the only person in this thread who has both played a perfectly fine (boring) game of CAH with the poster of this thread and who has met Max in real life. There are people I know and like and respect who are real life friends with Max, so I don't think the game is horrible and offensive, nor do I want to think that. I just think it's lazy and lazy humor isn't funny and you're all very silly.
posted by phunniemee at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


In a certain sense, CAH is a game for people psychologically young/undamaged/privileged enough that rape and racism and ableism and homophobia and the patriarchy and general life-fuckeduppedness haven't yet left a mark on them.

As a white cismale living an incredibly privileged, selfish suburban existence, I just have to say that this is how CAH should be played - as an educational tool similar to Monopoly, but for social equality rather than money management.

Sit down with your kids for a game of Cards, and every round, engage in a long review of the choices that were played and discuss why they're funny until it's physically uncomfortable. Make CAH as painful as Monopoly, until atrocity jokes are as stodgy and unfashionable as their parents are.
posted by mikurski at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2014 [16 favorites]


I've never understood why sexual crime gets singled out for special censure

Guess you haven't had this fun experience as a victim, then. It is because not only does a victim experience the abuse, but then there's the replay and renewed pain when the topic comes up again in their life, especially when it comes up as a joke. Or, in short: "revictimization" and "triggering" effects.
posted by bearwife at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


As a white cismale living an incredibly privileged, selfish suburban existence, I just have to say that this is how CAH should be played - as an educational tool similar to Monopoly, but for social equality rather than money management.

Sit down with your kids for a game of Cards, and every round, engage in a long review of the choices that were played and discuss why they're funny until it's physically uncomfortable. Make CAH as painful as Monopoly, until atrocity jokes are as stodgy and unfashionable as their parents are.


Not a bad idea, especially considering that Monopoly was largely created to point out how miserable and unfair certain forms of capitalism are.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


also, though, here we are, shunted into having a conversation about game aesthetics in response to a rape accusation. Which makes me feel like I've been dipped in pure tackiness and then deep-fried in kitsch.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


My main problem with the article is why does it call Max Tempkin's letter vague and deflecting? It is anything but. It is quite direct.

This piece by Kelly Kend explains why it's vague and deflecting much better than I could. In part:
It is telling in Max's response that he points out that they never even had sex as a reason why this couldn't have happened. Recall that two years ago, when the Steubenville story was making national headlines, one of the boys involved in the case is quoted as saying, "I didn't know it was rape." Those boys in Ohio never actually had genital intercourse with the girl, but still, they were guilty.
I also found it strange that he brings up that he has never "previously been accused of any kind of assault" as part of his defense, as though the fact that no one has ever accused you of doing something is proof that you've never done it and will never do it. This part was the kicker for me, though: "It is entirely possible she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup. If any part of that was traumatic for her, I am sincerely sorry, and I wish we would have had a chance to address it privately." This precise choice of words is pretty much the pinnacle of "I'm sorry if you read the situation wrong/took offense/were traumatized" vs. an unvarnished "I'm sorry." It's a classic non-apology.

That, and it drives me absolutely bonkers when grown men specifically and pointedly refer to grown women as girls, which Temkin does repeatedly:
"I found a Facebook post from a girl I knew in college..."
"I had a really brief relationship with this girl in college..."
"I haven't spoken to this girl in nearly ten years..."

This particular tactic is usually enacted whenever the speaker would like to dictate how seriously the reader should take the referenced woman's perspective -- specifically, it happens when the speaker would like us to know that we shouldn't take her very seriously at all. After all, she isn't an adult like him, she's just this girl. If this all happened in college, where the vast majority of attendees are already adults, and college was nearly ten years ago... then "this girl" is well into her thirties, which means she isn't a girl at all. His insistence upon exclusively using the word "girl" to describe her really stuck out to me.
posted by divined by radio at 1:24 PM on July 31, 2014 [31 favorites]


Sit down with your kids for a game of Cards, and every round, engage in a long review of the choices that were played and discuss why they're funny until it's physically uncomfortable. Make CAH as painful as Monopoly, until atrocity jokes are as stodgy and unfashionable as their parents are.

Sounds good to me. I'll sit there smugly because I'm the one who played "Being a motherfucking sorcerer," and you can't nitpick that because it's too hilarious.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


This particular tactic is usually enacted whenever the speaker would like to dictate how seriously the reader should take the referenced woman's perspective -- specifically, it happens when the speaker would like us to know that we shouldn't take her very seriously at all. After all, she isn't an adult like him, she's just this girl.

I call people girl/boy/men/women/sir/ma'am interchangeably depending on represented gender. I suppose I should lock that down more since as you said, it has a connotation.

edit: This thread has succeeded in just making me sad and tired. Why do you abuse me so, internet!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Honestly, until I read this thread I didn't realize my friends and I have been playing CAH wrong. It's not the most offensive or absurdist thing that makes the combination a winner, it's typically the thing that is the funniest to the person judging. And despite your personal funny meter, we target the funny to the person judging. My friends know that any Star Wars/D&D/or random fandom reference is probably going to win when I judge. And dead baby jokes don't fly with the pregnant lady. We never really get a run on racist/sexist stuff. It's more of a random thing that happens rather than the point of the game.

Then again, it's been a while since we played. Once the shiny wore off, it became rather old hat and now we just sit around and chat instead of playing games while drinking.
posted by teleri025 at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


I will only play this game with a few people I know very, very well. I have been invited to play it with people I've only just met, and always declined. Something about it just feels wrong. This article makes me question my own reasons for this. Thanks for the link.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love this game! And I'm a total asshole, so there's that. Also, what makes a winning answer isn't always the most offensive thing. It depends on the person judging, and what makes a winner can be subtle. Though it can very often be the most over-the-top offensive thing.

As for the rape accusation, I don't know what to do with it. I will never sit on a Maryland jury or ever know enough details to have an opinion. If he did rape someone, I hope he is prosecuted for it (apparently there is no statute of limitations for rape in Maryland, so that's ostensibly a possibility). And whether one should boycott products based on the actions or alleged actions of their creators is a question that I would like to be able to say "yes" to, but I don't know. I mean, the very clothes I'm wearing are of horrible provenance.
posted by univac at 1:35 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


People who cannot believe that someone, somewhere, vocally disapproves of something they like: welcome to life for a couple billion of women! We're glad to have you!
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2014 [21 favorites]


CAH reminds me of The Aristocrats, where it seemed just hilarious for ten minutes, and then less hilarious, and then not hilarious at all, and then extremely tiresome, and then I wanted to punch the person I was sitting next to in the face, just because.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not doing anything of the sort. I object to being hectored for finding it fun, being hectored for finding dangerous jokes fun.

Who in the hell is doing this? talk about a victim complex!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Not to get to Metatalky, but perhaps Metafilter isn't the best place to address people someone knows in real life. That might be why people are getting confused and assuming that we commenters in this thread are the ones being addressed.

Because it's appropriate online and in real life to assume that you are the object of someone's strong, contrary feelings. Isn't that precisely what mods constantly warn people not to do in sensitive threads? Why shouldn't it apply here?

Also, snide or glib comments aren't even engaging in good faith, they're the conversational equivalent of a sucker punch.
posted by echocollate at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2014


This article does a pretty good job of summarizing why I find playing CAH kind of uncomfortable, even when playing with close friends. I find myself playing surrealist card combinations, or making meta-commentary plays using the "Heteronormativity" card, rather than playing the game as (it seems) is "normal".

I still maintain that my partner's play of "Quiche, the story of Quiche" was one of the funnier moments in any group game, no cruelty required!

So maybe it's possible to subvert the whole thing, but it requires ignoring an awful lot of the cards...
posted by homotopy at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "Who in the hell is doing this? talk about a victim complex!"

the guilt is coming from inside the house, etc.
posted by boo_radley at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I played this at a bachelorette party in a cabin in the woods with my best friends and several bottles of wine. We are all social justice warrior-type women who are not very interested in giggling at rape or whatever.

I guess the way we wound up playing the game was fun for us because we are very, very downtrodden, pessimistic humans, but we just basically matched the cards that we felt said the most about the truth of the human condition and the horrible state of feminism and human rights in the modern era, etc. I wish I could remember some, but we mostly were playing in a way that made us nod gravely in recognition at every card we turned up, like, "Girl, yes, that has happened to me," and "Ugh, you know that's true," or (appreciately), "Caroline, you're so dark," and then at some point, we were drunk enough that every awful card we turned over that reflected awful parts of our lives and the world made us laugh hilariously and uproariously, and we were all flopping all over the place and each other, and it was kind of cathartic.

But we were pretty stoned, so there was that.
posted by pineappleheart at 1:40 PM on July 31, 2014 [39 favorites]


The only remotely "snide" or "glib" comment I made was regarding being perceived as advocating censorship despite no one actually doing so, and it turns out that I was right on the nose about that.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Because it's appropriate online and in real life to assume that you are the object of someone's strong, contrary feelings.

If MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch says
I stand squarely on the side of everybody-needs-to-lighten-the-fuck-up.
It's wrong to assume that we are part of everybody?

Followed by
The issue is the rising tide of hypersensitivity in general.
It's wrong to assume that we are part of that rising tide of hypersensitivity in general?
posted by muddgirl at 1:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


pineappleheart, your version sounds like the best version!
posted by ghostbikes at 1:44 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Here's a particularly disturbing quote from the article:

"This isn’t about whether Temkin is guilty, though my tendency is in fact to side with the accuser in instances like this where further evidence is unlikely to come out."

Just to be clear, I'm looking at this as a meta-ethical problem, the particular subject is somewhat irrelevant. What is happening here is that the author is explicitly stating that he prefers, when faced with ambiguity about a conflict directly associated with a cause that is important to him, to presume guilt.

He's saying that in a situation where the transgression is one he really cares about, he prefers to toss out the reasonable doubt standard and presumption of innocence that is the foundation of what post-monarchical societies believe constitutes justice. Because he really cares about justice.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


I expect CAH may very well be awful if you play it with awful people. I've only played it once, and it was reasonably entertaining because people were generally interested in juxtapositions that were apropos or surreal, rather than just filthy (though they could be filthy as well!). And I think expansions focused on things uncomfortable to all sorts of groups sounds like a great idea. But the general "only awful people would play this" moaning.. yeah, no. Games don't make you awful, they reveal what is inside. I wouldn't play a combo that relies on racism to be funny, because I don't find it funny, and I wouldn't assume any of my friends would find it funny either.
posted by tavella at 1:47 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


he prefers to toss out the reasonable doubt standard and presumption of innocence that is the foundation of what post-monarchical societies believe constitutes justice

Since you're presenting an argument that enables perpetrators of sexual assault to get away with it, and I'm having a bad day, I'm mad.

The reasonable doubt standard and presumption of innocence are legal concepts that belong in the courtroom. They have nothing at all the fuck to do with judging matters of fact and guilt in every day life. For fucks sake that should be obvious so why are you pretending its not
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:49 PM on July 31, 2014 [30 favorites]


Because if you consider someone a "close friend that you trust", presumably you're pretty confident that they're not a rapist? Unless there's an overlap in your Venn diagram of "people I consider friends" and "people I think might be rapists"? Kinda glad that Arthur Chu doesn't consider me a friend.

Well, I've been surprised before. "Holy shit, that person I know and have hung out with and had drinks with sexually assaulted a friend of mine" is not fun. And it's not something I can reliably predict -- my trust in someone does not ensure they aren't capable of horrible things. If I could reliably predict it, we'd be facing Minority Report ethical conundrums instead of discussing gamified rape jokes. and other general terribleness.

One thing I have decided since that particular uncomfortable surprise, though, is that I can explicitly and deliberately avoid making jokes about rape and sexual assault. Not because I'm a fussbudget, or that I think they're not "politically correct." I would just rather pass up a particular subset of dark comedy than communicate to a would-be rapist I secretly, deep down, think that rape is hilarious.

Others may feel differently. I'd rather not spend any more sleepless nights, going over past conversations and trying to figure out if there was any way I could've spotted someone's potential to commit sexual assault before it occurred, only to recall times when I joked with them about what they eventually did.
posted by verb at 1:50 PM on July 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


Because if you consider someone a "close friend that you trust", presumably you're pretty confident that they're not a rapist? Unless there's an overlap in your Venn diagram of "people I consider friends" and "people I think might be rapists"? Kinda glad that Arthur Chu doesn't consider me a friend.

As someone with a large social circle, it's rather disappointing how often one finds out that a "close friend" is also a rapist. Or how often you get to see one of your friends hanging out with your rapist.
posted by _paegan_ at 1:53 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


I play CAH with friends, and we all enjoy it, and I have not run into the kinds of misogny, homophobia, racism, etc outlined in this thread. Hell, at the risk of "some of my best friends...", I was introduced to the game by a gay couple, one of whom is non-white.

I would suggest that there is nothing in the game that intrinsically is homophobic, sexist, or racist, but rather it simply can be played in the manner. But then again, so can Pictionary or charades. I would therefore suggest that if the cards are being used in the service of "hilarious ironic racism", the problem is not with the game, but with the players,
posted by modernnomad at 1:53 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


meanwhilebackattheranch i disagree with what you are saying here. The author of the article is not a court nor jury and has no authority as a finder of fact nor provider of punishment and has no duty to presumption of innocence. Where it matters to the author to change a cultural problem (ie minimization of rape, perpetuation of rape culture and ongoing victimization of women who speak up about their assault), it is not problematic for him to choose to believe the victim where further evidence is unlikely ever to be uncovered.

Rape culture is dangerous, insidious, and relies upon people being willing to shrug off claims that a guy they know or like went forward with sexual contact with a woman who was too drunk to consent or intimidated to voice her lack of consent. I agree that it's harmful to that man accused of sexual contact without consent to assume he did in fact assault someone. I don't agree that it's a harm which must be avoided at all costs.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


They have nothing at all the fuck to do with judging matters of fact and guilt in every day life.

Actually they have a lot to do with everyday life. Fail to follow them, and it's very very easy to start peddling unsubstantiated, unproven, malicious gossip.

And again, my point is above and beyond anything to do with sexual violence. It applies to any cause that one cares deeply about. Like witchcraft, at one point in time, for instance.

I would like to know what other circumstance there is in which people on this thread would like to abandon presumption of innocence. Because of the radical sentiments I see, I'm going to guess police brutality might be one other option. I oppose it in that case too.

But really, think about the consequences if someone who's ideology you didn't agree with decided to toss presumption of innocence. And think about the consequences if they got away with it. It's not hyperbole to bring up Jacobins in this discussion. And the first thing I'll do if the revolution ever comes again is thank the Jacobins. The second will be to shoot them in the back and get together some reasonable people.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 1:58 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


A couple of years back CAH made a big marketing push at PAX Prime in Seattle by giving out hundreds of t-shirts with card sayings printed on the front. Seeing people proudly walking around with some of that stuff -- my favorite was some white guy smugly wearing a CAH shirt that just said "white privilege" -- puts it in a whole new light.

I've played the game a few times, but there are very few people I'd want to play it with. I just am happier not knowing which horrible thing would make a friend laugh the most.

What is happening here is that the author is explicitly stating that he prefers, when faced with ambiguity about a conflict directly associated with a cause that is important to him, to presume guilt.

Arthur Chu is not himself a court of law nor a legal representative. We are not somehow magically immune to forming an opinion when hearing second hand about legal cases, nor do those opinions jeopardize anyone's right to due process even if you disagree with them. You repeatedly keep applying one's personal opinion to huge legal precedents, and it's weird.
posted by jess at 1:59 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fail to follow them, and it's very very easy to start peddling unsubstantiated, unproven, malicious gossip.

Which is why rapes are thoroughly prosecuted and justice prevails because all rapists immediately get punished!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


I also found it strange that he brings up that he has never "previously been accused of any kind of assault" as part of his defense, as though the fact that no one has ever accused you of doing something is proof that you've never done it and will never do it.

I agree that it isn't proof of anything, but people certainly consider past accusations as relevant whenever we're talking about sexual assault. Maybe because there's such a depressingly low chance that anything ever comes of it in a legal/proof sense? It's possible he brought it up because that's usually one of the first questions we have. As a solid indicator of guilt on a discrete act, though, past accusations are unreliable, you're right.

This part was the kicker for me, though: "It is entirely possible she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup. If any part of that was traumatic for her, I am sincerely sorry, and I wish we would have had a chance to address it privately." This precise choice of words is pretty much the pinnacle of "I'm sorry if you read the situation wrong/took offense/were traumatized" vs. an unvarnished "I'm sorry." It's a classic non-apology.

I'm not really clear on how that's "the kicker"? Should he be apologizing for something he didn't do? Or, is it obvious that he did it and the non-apology is just further dickishness? Or is there a way to phrase an apology for rape without admitting to rape? Maybe it was dumb to even try to apologize?

That's a lot of questions in a row! This isn't meant to be an interrogation. I'm just wondering if it's possible to word an apology better when it seems like the intent of the main message is to deny guilt. Maybe wording isn't the issue here?
posted by ODiV at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Days since MeFi has had to rebut claims that tending to believe accusers rather than the accused when it comes to sexual assault is the death of society: 2 0
posted by zombieflanders at 2:02 PM on July 31, 2014 [26 favorites]


Which is why rapes are thoroughly prosecuted and justice prevails because all rapists immediately get punished!

I'm not saying that the under-prosecution and under-conviction of rapists is not a huge problem. It is a huge problem. Selectively abandoning presumption of innocence would be attempting to solve a huge problem with a bigger problem.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 2:03 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


The presumptive condemnation of Max in this piece and the Kelly Kend piece really cause a knot in my stomach. Yes, I feel bad bringing that up in a rape culture where the pendulum swings so far to the other side so frequently, and victims are so frequently blamed and questioned. How we treat rape cases in this country is not right. At all. But sentences like this: "It would be so gratifying if Temkin would come through all of this and just cleanly apologize. Instead of issuing a denial, it would be amazing to see him say that he was a young idiot and that he’s sorry... Max Temkin should be held accountable for what he did." I don't even know what to do with that, given that none of us even knows what happened and we have zero information. His denial+sensitivity to rape culture issues in that blog post was the best possible thing I can think to say in a very, very difficult situation. I would not have written something better if I was accused of such a thing. Blog posts are admissible evidence; if he's indeed innocent to the best of his knowledge, then he needs to issue a denial, and think about what he can say that doesn't completely ruin his life and falsely send him to jail - not what is the most cleanly apolegetic and culpatory thing to say.
posted by naju at 2:04 PM on July 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: “He's saying that in a situation where the transgression is one he really cares about, he prefers to toss out the reasonable doubt standard and presumption of innocence that is the foundation of what post-monarchical societies believe constitutes justice.”

There is no sense in which the presumption of innocence is characteristic of what "post-monarchical societies believe constitutes justice." The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, clearly and trenchantly a post-monarchical document, is emphatic in presuming guilt, and via the Napoleonic Code it was extended and this presumption of guilt was tempered and the threat of arbitrary arrest was taken into account. And the Napoleonic Code was clearly the first post-monarchical legal document to lay down a system that was followed in many countries across Europe and around the world.

Even if we take the American system on its own, the presumption of innocence is nowhere incumbent upon citizens. Arthur Chu is allowed to believe someone is guilty with little or no evidence. Indeed, every single person is going to believe people are guilty or innocent without evidence at all. That's how humans are; we make judgments. Arthur Chu never said in this article that legal systems ought to presume guilt rather than innocence. He is saying "I tend to side with the purported victim." That is not the same thing as saying "courts of law should presume guilt."
posted by koeselitz at 2:06 PM on July 31, 2014 [19 favorites]


Again, the presumption of innocence is a legal principle originating from Roman Law and codified in many constitutions. It is not a principle used by societies to judge guilt or innocence in the public sphere. And, since you are so wrong, many constitutional monarchies also include the presumption of innocence.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Indeed, every single person is going to believe people are guilty or innocent without evidence at all. That's how humans are; we make judgments.

And we should resist that tendency with as much rigor as we resist the natural urge to be violent. Humans are naturally prone to all sorts of bad behavior.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 2:09 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: “I'm not saying that the under-prosecution and under-conviction of rapists is not a huge problem. It is a huge problem. Selectively abandoning presumption of innocence would be attempting to solve a huge problem with a bigger problem.”

If you can demonstrate that Arthur Chu was making a legal statement about the way courts of law ought to operate, I will agree with you that he was attempting to 'selectively abandon presumption of innocence.' Until then, no dice.
posted by koeselitz at 2:09 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


when faced with ambiguity about a conflict directly associated with a cause that is important to him, to presume guilt

Wound up in the presumption of innocence for Temkin is also the presumption that the accuser is lying. You cannot presume innocence to one party without presuming guilt on another.

This route is the legal method of doing things because we generally want to be pretty sure the people found guilty are actually guilty.

For public opinion though, what are we supposed to do? The presumption of innocence route will protect rapists and gives an excuse for any misogynist to make out the accuser to be a liar. The agnostic route will still protect rapists. The presumption of guilt route will just make people think bad about some people. Maybe some rapists actually lose some of their friends. The consequences just aren't that big. With the deck stacked so heavily against accusers already in many different ways I would prefer the last one.
posted by john-a-dreams at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


nthing that different groups of people apparently play CAH differently. I've played with men and women, people of a variety of races and class backgrounds, and a good friend who is finishing a Ph.D. in social psychology in order to do social justice work. I know for a fact that many of them have suffered from the -isms that CAH supposedly mocks. I've seen no evidence that it was anything but a hilarious experience for any of them.

In fact, it can occasionally facilitate a weird sort of bonding moment—it takes the ugliness of the world, and lays it (literally) on the table—where we can wince at it in shared horror and recognition, while laughing at its absurdity, and being glad to be in the company of people who have thought long and hard about it and strive, however they can, to make the world better. If you get it, you get it. If you don't, then this game isn't for you, and I don't hold that against you in the least.

I mean, mostly we're just getting wasted and laughing at spectacularly vulgar combinations of words. But the game itself is only as mean-spirited as the people playing it.

I don't doubt that there are circles of friends who play the game in stupid or ugly ways—the world is full of idiots. But the fact that something can be used in a stupid way doesn't mean that the thing itself stupid; it just means that idiots exist.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


Well I have a really hard time believing that the usual way to play this is through a lens of surrealism or provoking sober thoughts on the human condition. I don't see that with the "two midgets" card, the many ways to make a pedophile joke, or the fact that I've never seen "big black" or "bigger, blacker dick" cards played in a non-racist way. The simplest way to play the game is through shock humor. It greatly encourages this, it seems to me.

Now I've realized that my perception must be greatly colored by the fact that I only played the game on the "pretend you're xyzzy" website, and that site was dominated by Redditors and people from Something Awful. Reading all these comments about how it greatly depends on who you play it with, I'm sure it's easy to understand the agony and loathing I felt playing it and why I vowed never to go near it again.
posted by Danila at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


Then you have an incredibly idiosyncratic way of judging guilt or innocence which also happens to support the entrenched power structure and rape culture.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Then you have an incredibly idiosyncratic way of judging guilt or innocence which also happens to support the entrenched power structure and rape culture.

You're going to need to show your work on that one.
posted by verb at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: “And we should resist that tendency with as much rigor as we resist the natural urge to be violent. Humans are naturally prone to all sorts of bad behavior.”

I could tell you all the ways this seems like a ridiculous thing to ask of human beings, but I'll just say this:

If people actually followed this dictum, and presumed innocence in all cases be they public or private, then our legal system would collapse completely. Criminals would never be accused of crimes or arrested, because everyone involved would refuse on principle, presuming that the accused are innocent until guilt is proved in a court of law. Police officers would never arrest people accused of crimes, presuming that those accused are innocent. And friends and neighbors of the victims of crimes would never come forward and testify on their behalf, particularly in cases where the victim is dead already and not there to speak for themselves.

The presumption of innocence is a legal check designed to resolve courtroom situations where there is ambiguity; it is not a principle meant to be applied to the whole of society.
posted by koeselitz at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [23 favorites]


You're going to need to show your work on that one.

Work a little bit. Automatically presuming that an accusation of rape is false and that the accused is innocent makes it easier for rapists to get away with rape.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Work a little bit. Automatically presuming that an accusation of rape is false and that the accused is innocent makes it easier for rapists to get away with rape.

Nevermind, I see my error -- I'd mixed up your comments with MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch's due to a quick read, and thought you were saying that presuming an accuser is telling the truth supported rape culture. Which struck me as... creative.
posted by verb at 2:24 PM on July 31, 2014


Why anyone accused of a sex crime makes a public statement of any sort is a mystery to me. There is, like, no way that can work out to their advantage, and I'd bet a fair sum that any competent lawyer would give the advice of "STFU, pal, and wait for court."
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


hippybear: "A social group I am part of is constantly pulling out CAH toward the end of meets, and that's when I make my exit. That game wounds my hippie soul. "

Yeah, sight unseen, but based on a lot of friends saying that they loved it, I got the starter box...and really, I wish I could return it. I see how those friends that like it would think it was funny, and I see how in the right group of people, *I* would think it was funny...but over all, it struck me as mean spirited and vulgar with no real purpose to the vulgarity or the triteness.

It was playing the online version (with strangers) that was linked here a few weeks ago that pushed me over the "Ok, this is just really stupid," ledge, I'll be honest.
posted by dejah420 at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


To be maybe a little clearer on this:

me: “Indeed, every single person is going to believe people are guilty or innocent without evidence at all. That's how humans are; we make judgments.”

MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: “And we should resist that tendency with as much rigor as we resist the natural urge to be violent. Humans are naturally prone to all sorts of bad behavior.”

In courts of law, there are rules about what constitutes admissible evidence. It must not be a product of coercion; it must be public, must be shared by someone at least; it must rest on direct, first-hand knowledge; it cannot simply rely on a knowledge of the character of a witness or the defendant.

In short, it excludes a whole lot of very good evidence that rational, thinking humans take into account when coming to conclusions every day. It excludes this very good evidence for very good reasons; law courts aren't well equipped to consider subtle body language or lifelong knowledge and experience of a person or a careful examination of the roots of hearsay, even if rational people are able to draw conclusions from these things.

Because courtrooms have these limitations, we have rules like "always presume innocence until guilt is proven," in order to avoid punishing the innocent when the evidence seems ambiguous. But we still rely on rational people to take sides and decide whether they believe someone is guilty or innocent, judging from all evidence, even if that evidence is to subtle or abstract to enter a courtoom – as rational people must do in order to live in civil society.
posted by koeselitz at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Should he be apologizing for something he didn't do? Or, is it obvious that he did it and the non-apology is just further dickishness?

The application of the term "non-apology" is erroneous here, is what the problem is. Temkin uses phrasing which sounds like (but is not) the rhetoric used by people who have done something shitty, acknowledge that they've done something wrong , and then say "I'm sorry if you were offended." Chu seized upon this because, I don't know, political discussion on the internet is sometimes handled a lot like working in a call center, where the writer goes through a mental script and tries to find the thing which sounds most like what the other person just said and then reads off the most likely response.

In this case, he used the phrase, "If any part of that was traumatic for her, I am sincerely sorry," which sounds like the Non-Apology part of the script, so the blogger ran with that.

But a non-apology, in its most commonly-understood form, is (as above) when the person in question acknowledges what they did but then acts like the harm caused is negotiable or somehow up for discussion ("I regret cutting the brakes on that school bus and I am sorry if there was any injury of loss of life to the debate team"). In other words, the act is not in question.

Here, however, something different is going on. Temkin is not apologizing for something he admits having done. He is giving an explanation of his position that he doesn't believe any boundaries were crossed, but also acknowledges that since rape culture can make it hard for a person to speak up, the possibility exists that there were things the woman was not okay with, and that he was not aware of them. It is not a non-apology, in its most commonly-understood form. He is instead saying, "There was no breach of consent as far as I know, but it's entirely possible that her takeaway and perspective were different than mine and that bad things happened I wasn't aware of, and if that is in fact what happened, I am sorry." The if is different.

It's also possible Chu just meant "non-apology" in the sense that what Temkin wrote was not an apology, which would be a silly thing to mean since as you observe, Temkin's position is that he has not committed rape and as such it would not make sense for him to apologize as though he had.

Nota bene: This is only an explication of why the term "non-apology" is used erroneously here, and nothing more; it should not in any way be taken as a defense of CAH, Temkin, or his side of the story.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:34 PM on July 31, 2014 [31 favorites]


Cards Against Humanity is what happens when the types of nerds who endlessly quote Monty Python

But it's the same type of humor in Monty Python's Spamalot, which just won a Best Musical Tony a few years ago.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:36 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


The presumptive condemnation of Max in this piece and the Kelly Kend piece really cause a knot in my stomach.

The thing that really causes a knot in MY stomach is the contravening presumption that the victim must be making it up. Because that's pretty much what it always comes back to, even when cases go to trial. She made it up. She was drunk. She was dressed like a slut.

Our society and our legal system both bend over backwards to excuse the alleged perpetrator and discredit the person who says she's a victim.

Knot. Stomach. Boom.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:37 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


It was playing the online version (with strangers) that was linked here a few weeks ago that pushed me over the "Ok, this is just really stupid," ledge, I'll be honest.

Oh, man. CAH is pretty much the Platonic ideal of "games that can only be played in person". It's all about the immediate social fabric of the room.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


You're going to need to show your work on that one.

Someone once stole from me. This has not been proven in a court of law. Nevertheless, I feel perfectly comfortable describing that person as a thief. Is that crazy? Do I need to call the cops on my former roommate before I am allowed to have an opinion about whether or not he is a thief?

Rape is different because?
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


There's several things at work here:

First of all, Cards Against Humanity is unambiguously a structural improvement over Apples to Apples because of the increased flexibility of the judge cards. AtA hamstrings itself by allowing only one manner in which the nouns can be examined, whereas CAH invites players to think about the cards in their hands in a wider variety of ways. The "play two cards" cases are an especially welcome innovation.

This design innovation is quite separate from the Dead Babies Jokes sense of humor that CAH has made its brand. Lots of people find the game distasteful, and it's their prerogative to do so, but a lot of people in this thread seem to be conflating lazy game design, lazy writing, and uncreative players. CAH is an absolute blast with the right crowd not because they must all share the same sense of humor, but because the game's fundamental design rewards the best kinds of lateral thinking. Playing to be as offensive as possible isn't impressive when the game is already deliberately offensive. The people who consistently win at CAH are the people who discover unexpected ways to fit their nouns to the judge cards.

If you hate the crass and shock-oriented nouns in CAH, have your friends come up with their own set of nouns. Or, if that sounds like too much work, try playing with AtA nouns instead. For the most part, the judge cards in CAH are only mildly risqué, and playing with any other set of nouns quickly reveals that the game survives intact if you shift the tone away from secretion-oriented taboo-busting.

The idea that a game like CAH is for a certain group of people (or that it serves a specific function) is a not merely a fallacy, it's a branding strategy. The functional machinery of games are not fundamentally partisan in that way. Furthermore, none of the game rules are laws. If you've had bad experiences with a game, consider changing the way you play it before you write it off as a "bad game."
posted by belarius at 2:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


The other thing about CAH, apart from this issue, is that in my experience it doesn't have a lot of repeat play value. The transgressive thrill you get from playing the cards, and having them played by other people, drops closer and closer to non-existent once you're familiar with them.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


But we still rely on rational people to take sides and decide whether they believe someone is guilty or innocent, judging from all evidence, even if that evidence is to subtle or abstract to enter a courtoom – as rational people must do in order to live in civil society.

True, but in this case the sum total of our knowledge as rational people is what Chu wrote ("a Tumblr user under the pseudonym “Magz” accused Max Temkin, the co-creator and public face of Cards Against Humanity, of raping her in college eight years ago. Max Temkin replied with a vague, deflecting denial of guilt/non-apology"), and at least on the surface it appears that he doesn't know any more than we do.

And after that spreading of hearsay, he segues into "regardless of that I've decided I don't like CAH anyway." Weird way to start an article about his personal preference.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:39 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Declaring oneself a victim does not, nor should it, automatically confer some hagiographic status upon the declarer. People lie all the damn time, and if you're going to publicly accuse someone of any sort of crime, you bear the burden of proof, period.

That The Daily Beast published this . . . whatever the hell this is should shock me, but god, I don't expect anything better from it.
posted by gsh at 2:40 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Knot. Stomach. Boom.

It causes a knot in my stomach too. The whole thing is deeply upsetting. I don't think accusations in a nationally-read website, when we have zero facts, is the satisfying corrective course. :(
posted by naju at 2:40 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Someone once stole from me. This has not been proven in a court of law. Nevertheless, I feel perfectly comfortable describing that person as a thief. Is that crazy? Do I need to call the cops on my former roommate before I am allowed to have an opinion about whether or not he is a thief?

Rape is different because?


Because you're most likely not calling that person out by name online, and the social stigma of "thief" and "rapist" are just slightly different.

I get what you're saying, but this is a terrible example.
posted by lattiboy at 2:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


"The same type of humor." The same TYPE of humor! What is up with this argument. "This oil portrait sucks ass." "But it's the same type of art as the Mona Lisa! You just don't get art, man. Maybe if you knew as much about art as me, you'd see what I mean."
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have a really hard time believing that the usual way to play this is through a lens of surrealism or provoking sober thoughts on the human condition.

The normal way to play it is to devise combinations that the audience (your friends) are likely to like. If something is a nasty mean joke, you're not going to award it the point, because it was nasty. You're going to give the point to something that was funny or insightful or unexpected or whatever. Playing online in the cesspit of the internet... yeah, I can totally see that being a one-way trip to never-want-to-play-again. But there are plenty of other games, so having no further interest in CAH is no big loss.

And as has already been mentioned, once people are familiar with the cards, creating genuinely unexpected connections becomes harder, the payoff moments become rarer, the game doesn't hold interest for all that many games. So, "no big loss" goes double.

I had good fun with my first game (with good friends), the second game was... ok, and I was mostly bored by my third game. I don't expect there will be a fourth game.
Monopoly is also boring, but it took a hundred games to get to that point.
posted by anonymisc at 2:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


"STFU, pal, and wait for court."

It doesn't really seem like this is going to go anywhere, legally (like the vast majority of accusations), so is he just supposed to not say anything about it ever? As someone who is (was?) pitching his product as friendly to women could he just leave it unaddressed forever? I feel like people would rightly take him to task for that, but maybe that's too optimistic and it would just fade away.

In a legal sense though, I agree it's probably best to keep your mouth shut whenever you're accused of anything serious.
posted by ODiV at 2:42 PM on July 31, 2014


Should he be apologizing for something he didn't do?

Instead of saying, "I didn't do it, she's just an ex-fling that maybe I hurt because I didn't call her. OK, she might have taken it that way since boundaries are hard to read. Sorry if she did. But it's all just slanderous gossip anyway" He could have said, "Since I grew up steeped in rape culture and found it difficult to read boundaries, I might have done it. Shit, I'm very very sorry. Let me know if I can make it up to you."

The idea that a guy like Max Tempkin couldn't crow about a sexual assault from the rooftops and still walk if the case came to trial is pretty laughable. But maybe having a successful card game + LARP franchise doesn't pay "Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Lawyer" money.
posted by muddgirl at 2:44 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Someone make a new set for CAH that is just metafilter comments on a CAH FPP
posted by halifix at 2:51 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


We also play with "Humboldt rules" which is to say Humboldt, my stuffed squid, adds a random card to the answers each round. Humboldt does surprisingly well at this game, further proving the above point.

Yeah, the game is a complete failure qua game for this reason, and I won't play it if I can possibly help it. I firmly believe that any group that enjoys this game (and/or Apples to Apples, which is the same mechanic) will have a better time with a game that allows at least a little more creativity-many good examples in this thread already, but around my house it's usually Celebrity or Balderdash.

Happy to have a name for the phenomenon, "Humbolt's Law"
posted by Kwine at 2:54 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


The idea that a guy like Max Tempkin couldn't crow about a sexual assault from the rooftops and still walk if the case came to trial is pretty laughable. But maybe having a successful card game + LARP franchise doesn't pay "Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Lawyer" money.

I don't know Max Temkin, so I'm not going to speak to his particular situation. But, hypothetically, if I were accused of rape and did not in fact rape that person, I would not suggest that well, maybe I did commit rape because: rape culture. Sorry! And that choice would have nothing to do with what caliber lawyer I could afford.
posted by echocollate at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2014 [17 favorites]


I played this game for the first time this spring...in a group of Quakers. It was fun and hilarious. We had the rule that you could discard any card that you were too uncomfortable with and draw a new one. The most hilarious punchline of the night was in "For Lent I'm giving up..." "Object permanence."

I haven't had such a good game since, and have stopped playing for now. I'm not a fan of gross bodily-fluid related humor, for one thing. In general, I think "edgy" humor has to have a very high level of cleverness to offset its distastefulness, and most games I've played have fallen short. Games develop tones based on how people are judging, and too much "ha ha pedophilia ha ha farts" stuff spoils it for me.

I agree with folks up-thread who said that the game relies on novelty. I've also found it less fun as the cards get familiar so there are fewer fresh and surprising juxtapositions.
posted by not that girl at 2:59 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Someone make a new set for CAH that is just metafilter comments on a CAH FPP

MetaFilter: Ribs so good they transcend race and class.
MetaFilter: Bees?
MetaFilter: The stinging burn of anal lacerations.

What brought the orgy to a grinding halt? MetaFilter
It's a pity these days that kids are getting involved with: MetaFilter
White People Like: MetaFilter

All actual cards. Am I doing this right?
posted by phunniemee at 2:59 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think that whenever you are faced with a situation that may be legally actionable your best course of action is to either not talk about it at all or, if you are a public figure like Temkin, have an attorney prepare a statement that will likely read to the effect of "I steadfastly deny these false allegations and look forward to being vindicated in court." Saying "I might have done it" on the internet is legal suicide.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:00 PM on July 31, 2014


muddgirl: To be clear, it's not my position that he did not do this thing. The very next line after "Should he be apologizing for something he didn't do?" is a question supposing he did.

I hadn't considered the hedge apology as an option, but I haven't yet read much about this other than this article. Is it something others have suggested much? At first it sounds kinda disingenuous to me if I read it as coming from him, but maybe that would have been a better way to go (...in the court of public opinion. I know nothing of law).
posted by ODiV at 3:02 PM on July 31, 2014


Everyone complaining about the lack of creativity in CAH should give "Once Upon a Time" a try. It is much more free-form than CAH, but still generates hilarious situations and has way more replayability. The drawback, of course, is that if your friends aren't creative (or don't believe they are creative) they probably won't like it.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 3:07 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I will say that one time, my fiance made an actually really good play with CAH.

What does an illegal Mexican immigrant bring with him across the border?: The American Dream

Which was good because it fit the definition of humor that I find most compelling, the illumination of unexpected truths.

That said, I've stopped really having any desire to play it ever, because (as people have said), it generally does one of two things. Either it leads someone by the hand to crossing a line, or it just yells "poop" a lot. Bleh.

Regular apples to apples is frankly more fertile ground for wit.
posted by kavasa at 3:10 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


What brought the orgy to a grinding halt?

Taters
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:12 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've only played CAH for 15 minutes with mostly strangers, so I don't know it that well, but it does seem like a lot of the humor is using cards in unexpected situations, rather than being "ohoho poop." And I'm sure having house rules can make things more interesting.

This is a way of saying I'm annoyed that I lost an Apples to Apples round. For sultry, my Statue of Liberty card lost to whips.
posted by halifix at 3:13 PM on July 31, 2014


Also: Change the game! Make your own answers!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:13 PM on July 31, 2014


Poop is underrated.
posted by fleacircus at 3:17 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


...more fertile ground for wit.

heh, poop
posted by ODiV at 3:20 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


The most hilarious punchline of the night was in "For Lent I'm giving up..." "Object permanence."

... I think you're describing my metaphysics. Weird.

Anyway, this is the frustrating thing about the game: its mechanics absolutely can accommodate really powerful statements against the shitty things in our society, or just brutally stupid racist-pretending-to-be-hipster-fake-racist bullshit, and rather than saying it specifically is one thing or another we're left dealing with potentials and percentages, saying things more or less functionally equivalent to "well 40% of the time it tends to encourage the insightful-statement-told-humorously framework rather than the let's-pretend-to-just-pretend-to-be-racist-misogynist-homophobes framework, with that percentage rising to 80% if all the players work at a social-justice nonprofit, but falling to 12% if played with redditors."

Given that complexity, it's nearly impossible to make categorical statements about whether the combination of game mechanic (vote on what card's funniest) and theme (referential humor featuring a mixture of hyperliterate MeFi-ish stuff and "transgressive" hipsterdudebro stuff) is "good" or "bad" or "racist" or "misogynist" or "genius" or "alcoholic" hey where's Gina or what.

BUT:

All of this is absolutely changed when viewed in light of the possibility of the creator of the game being a for-reals rapist.

Something that makes this such a difficult conversation for us is that we know the following:
  1. The fact that rape allegations must be taken extremely seriously
  2. That people who totally do not seem at all to be potential rapists sometimes rape, and
  3. the mechanic and theme of a card game that the guy made
The first two facts are all we know about the rape allegations. And so we're stuck discussing the third thing, the mechanic of a damn hell ass card game, because that's the only thing we really know in detail and in depth about the entire situation — and it's not remotely the important thing about the situation. We're given the choice between this like solemn silence and talking about game mechanics, and we're commenters on mefi so by definition we talk about things. but man, it's uncomfortable being in this thread. I'm glad that people posted the stories about social-justice-friendly playings of Cards Against Humanity, because my "get it off of me!!" reaction to how bad CAH can be (especially when considering that, heck, maybe the creator's a rapist?) made me sort of deny to myself the times I've played it with the right group and it's been really fun and positive and cathartic.

in conclusion, land of contrasts.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:24 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


ODiV: “I'm not really clear on how that's 'the kicker'? Should he be apologizing for something he didn't do? Or, is it obvious that he did it and the non-apology is just further dickishness? Or is there a way to phrase an apology for rape without admitting to rape? Maybe it was dumb to even try to apologize? ¶ That's a lot of questions in a row! This isn't meant to be an interrogation. I'm just wondering if it's possible to word an apology better when it seems like the intent of the main message is to deny guilt. Maybe wording isn't the issue here?”

I think it's "the kicker" because it flatly does not deny that it happened, and in fact by some lights technically confesses to the legal definition of rape. If you have an "awkward college hookup" that leaves open the possibility that the person you hooked up with will "read something completely different" into that hookup – that is, if you have "awkward" sex with someone in a way that they could quite easily construe as rape, to the extent where you're willing to freely admit that that's a rational interpretation of what happened from their perspective – then you haven't obtained consent in any real sense.

In other words, what's ironic in this is that he doesn't deny it. He admits it.
posted by koeselitz at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]



What a horrible example.


Yeah, that immediately made me stop and do a double-take on the whole thing.

He also doesn't really seem to understand the humour of The Onion Harry Potter article or maybe The Onion in general (he thinks its read by liberals looking for a pat-themselves-on-the-back payoff? what?)
posted by Bwithh at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


We also play with "Humboldt rules" which is to say Humboldt, my stuffed squid, adds a random card to the answers each round. Humboldt does surprisingly well at this game, further proving the above point.

This great idea is already enshrined in the CAH suggested house rules as Rando Cardrissian. "If he wins the game, all players go home in a state of everlasting shame."
posted by knuckle tattoos at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2014


If you have an "awkward college hookup" that leaves open the possibility that the person you hooked up with will "read something completely different" into that hookup – that is, if you have "awkward" sex with someone in a way that they could quite easily construe as rape, to the extent where you're willing to freely admit that that's a rational interpretation of what happened from their perspective – then you haven't obtained consent in any real sense.

Yes! This is exactly what I think of this case. It's so possible he didn't go into the situation thinking, "I'm going to rape this girl" but he admits he doesn't know if he had consent. This doesn't mean that he 100% raped her, because we still have no idea if he really used persistence and pressure, but he can't say, "this didn't happen cause we talked about having sex and she was really into it."

That said, it's only now that the ideas of getting enthusiastic consent are really gaining national traction, so even if he did pressure her into something, it's totally plausible he had no idea that wasn't a cool/legal thing to do.
posted by ohisee at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I play Diplomacy, therefore I am horrible person.

Just kidding, of course. I'm an honest guy. It's certainly in my interest if you believe so.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


"This is totally, patently false. I have never sexually assaulted anyone, or previously been accused of any kind of assault." Wow you're right, direct admission of guilt. Oh wait no, the opposite of that
posted by waraw at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had actually never heard of this game before reading the thread (Horrible Person cred, where are you now?) But the first thing I think of is that, excluding birthday parties for small children, the bar is pretty low for party games: they only have to be fun and funny when you're drunk and/or otherwise substanced up. CAH sounds like a perfect fit.
posted by jfuller at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2014


koeselitz: Yeah, after reading the linked Kelly Kend piece I'm understanding that take on why it was described in that way. Thanks for your comment.

Hm... This is a tough one. Having someone refer years later to (and not even to you afaik?) what you considered to be a consensual sexual experience has got to be confusing. Then, what, you ask yourself if you're a rapist?

So as men we should be open to the potential that we have raped in the past and just never realized it? That seems super hard to do; like incredibly hard. This isn't an argument against examining the past for the truth. This isn't me saying that my feeeeeelings are more important than victims of sexual assault. This is just me trying to wrap my head about being open to that possibility. Kend might be on to something when she suggest there be a "sexual equivalent of involuntary manslaughter". I guess the privilege of being a dude is I can just opt not to think about it.

And speaking personally, thinking back on my University days, there were some awkward sexual encounters I'm a touch resentful about. So now I'm trying to remember what I can and asking myself if I was raped, which just seems patently absurd because, "Hey, I'm a guy". And it was over a decade ago and it's all a bit fuzzy now.
posted by ODiV at 3:49 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think I need to lie down.
posted by ODiV at 3:51 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


so I think we're being too self-deprecatory when we talk about how we're people who'd overthink a plate of beans. Maybe Metafilter is a place where people try to think a plate of beans the exact amount it should be thought. This particular plate of beans just so happens to deserve a hell of a lot of thinking.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


And speaking personally, thinking back on my University days, there were some awkward sexual encounters I'm a touch resentful about. So now I'm trying to remember what I can and asking myself if I was raped, which just seems patently absurd because, "Hey, I'm a guy"

The idea that men can't be raped is extremely toxic and wrong. Women can be aggressive and manipulative, but it's a lot harder to men to talk about it because of the assumption that dudes always want to have sex.

And it does seem like it would be hard to admit that you might have raped someone in the past. Part of the problem with sexual assault and related crimes is that there's a lot of hysteria around them and it's hard to talk about it rationally.
posted by ohisee at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


It comes across to me like Temkin was trying to be as charitable as possible to this woman's side, and acknowledging that there's always room for a little doubt even in what seems to have been enthusiastic consent situations. That's just being a good and understanding male ally / appreciating that your personal view of interactions is always contingent, uncertain & may not always be correct. I think it's genuinely meant to be an unselfish and good gesture, and maybe it's so unusual for us to read that our first instinct is to pounce on it as an admission of some sort.
posted by naju at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I absolutely believe there are many men who have raped women and who have no idea they raped women.

I think most of them should know, and did some weird mental gymnastics in the moment to prioritize their own desires and ignore their partner's nonconsent, but I do believe many of them went blithely on their way afterward and have no clue the pain they caused.

Which is one of the reasons I think it's a mistake to talk about rapists like they are horrible monsters, because that obscures the reality that most of them are normal guys. And which is one of the reasons I think many men get so defensive when rape accusations are discussed -- it starts pushing at the edge of those mental gymnastics and calling into question past experiences.
posted by jaguar at 3:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [26 favorites]


I haven't read all 193 posts, but this may be a unique opinion: I don't have a definitive opinion about Cards Against Humanity. Why? I've only played it once, and it was after the first time I'd smoked weed in a decade. There was also red wine involved. We laughed. But some cards I just couldn't use (as I see in some comments above, this happens)…I think "coat hanger abortion" was one of them.

But here is a column you might want to read about humor, written in 1997 by Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle, correctly titled: Nothing is Not Funny.
posted by kozad at 4:05 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Forget CAH, the Irish version of Trivial Pursuit is absolute hell. We had a family reunion in Kilkenny and played it - we are all Irish except for my brother's girlfriend, may God have mercy on her. It was a fucking nightmare. My aunt had too many gins and thought she was being a gas laugh, but was just rubbing everyone up the wrong way. I had drunk a couple too many craft beers because it was my birthday and so was completely oblivious to the fact that every one was hating playing the game. None of us knew any of the answers because it was all so obscure. It went on for hours. I think my Dad started crying at one point. My Mam had a go at my Aunt for drinking too many gins, and then had a go at my brother for defending her. To be fair on his girlfriend, she did get in the spirit of it and had a go at him too. CAH may be hateful, I won't deny that, because I know hateful crap.
posted by Elmore at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


phunniemee: "Someone make a new set for CAH that is just metafilter comments on a CAH FPP


All actual cards. Am I doing this right?
"
White People Like : Ribs so good they transcend race and class.
posted by boo_radley at 4:14 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


We call them Jimmy Page's I Can't Quit You Baby Back Ribs. Try them with our Whole Lotta Oven Baked Beans.
posted by boo_radley at 4:17 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


But here is a column you might want to read about humor, written in 1997 by Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle, correctly titled: Nothing is Not Funny.

It's important to remember, though, that Cards Against Humanity is not humor.

It is a snap-together construction kit for humor, and both the constraints of that snap-together nature and the nature of the the pieces it includes in its kit shape what sort of humor people create with it.
posted by verb at 4:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is a game I play with one specific group of people, and it's a form of therapy for all the tongue-biting we do all day because we are not independently wealthy and so have to keep our jobs, even if they involve the kind of people who probably went out to shout at a bus full of children because it's their Christian duty and/or some shitstain on the radio told them to. But we are also people who like puns and dumb wordplay, so maybe we are just irredeemably horrible people in the first place.

I wouldn't play in a more random group for most of the reasons stated. (I would love a game with the same mechanics but a more neutral set of cards, as it is very satisfying to build out feasible absurdities or weird truths, and it is also fun to include your pets' names on the blank cards.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:24 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is the billionth time that people throw around words like rapist and racist or misogynist or transphobic not thinking it's a big deal or that people being quite upset having that label put on them are "defensive" and it doesn't matter because "everybody is *ist!"

They're just "educating people" and they should be thanked for using the words properly and making others aware of how often they engage in these activities. The often intense reaction to this usage would indicate you are not using it as most people do. Perhaps knowing how they are taken as most people understand them and using them accordingly would probably avoid a huge amount of hostilities.

When people talk about "bomb throwing" of threadshitting this should be up there with "censorship!".
posted by lattiboy at 4:27 PM on July 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you must make Cards Against Humanity problematic, here's an easy way:

I recommend playing it with your parents. Amazeballs.
Better yet your fiancée's parents. Double amazeballs.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:30 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I haven't read all 193 posts, but this may be a unique opinion

I mean, it's statistically possible, but phenomenally unlikely.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I must be getting old, but I'm still amazed at the fact that a girl and her friends can band together to destroy a person's reputation with no evidence and accuse him of a felony for which Maryland has no statute of limitations.

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that if you publish an accusation of a crime based on one person's word, you have committed a actionable libel.
posted by Megafly at 5:04 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


lattiboy: "This is the billionth time that people throw around words like rapist and racist or misogynist or transphobic not thinking it's a big deal or that people being quite upset having that label put on them are 'defensive' and it doesn't matter because 'everybody is *ist!'"

I genuinely don't believe anyone is doing this. I would understand if accusations of rape were getting tossed back and forth, or if people were being told they were rapists in this conversation. But we're talking about one particular incident in which someone who claims to be a victim came forward and said something. We're not taking that lightly, and nobody here is saying it's not a big deal.

What some people are saying is that it's in our best interest to treat "rapist" not as a term of evil, horrible disapprobation, but as a technical term that means something very specific. And I think that's an important thing to do. I feel like you probably agree, given what you've written here. You agree that "rapist" shouldn't be tossed around as an insult, but should instead be used as a precise term that means something specific, right?
posted by koeselitz at 5:07 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Megafly: “I must be getting old, but I'm still amazed at the fact that a girl and her friends can band together to destroy a person's reputation with no evidence and accuse him of a felony for which Maryland has no statute of limitations. I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that if you publish an accusation of a crime based on one person's word, you have committed a actionable libel.”

An accusation is only libelous if it's a falsehood. In this case, both the accuser and the accused seem to agree in their accounts of what happened.
posted by koeselitz at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm also on the "Yeah, something probably happened that was bad" side of things, in terms of believing the accuser with a rape accusation. I'm not sure what effect it will have on me playing Cards Against Apples (we combine decks) in the future; I'm still working on the whole "liking problematic things."

Honestly, until I read this thread I didn't realize my friends and I have been playing CAH wrong. It's not the most offensive or absurdist thing that makes the combination a winner, it's typically the thing that is the funniest to the person judging.

This is the way my friends and I play it as well. I like the "discard the ones you don't like" rule and might introduce that one.

I have actually won a round on the "get laid/date rape" combo, which is not at all unique. It was very much a dark humor kind of thing, as someone who was "date raped" (or, rather, ex-boyfriend-raped) in a group with people who knew that happened to me. I was glad to hear they removed that from the deck, though, and were trying to focus more on punching up instead of down.

(I've also seen a non-racist "big black" which had to do with kettles, but I'm sure it's rare).

I absolutely believe there are many men who have raped women and who have no idea they raped women.

I'm pretty sure my rapist doesn't think he raped me even though I ask him to stop. I didn't think he raped me for a long time. Rape within intimate relationships is messy because both sides have a lot of reasons for trying to claim it didn't happen (see also: women who dated their rapist after to try to make themselves retroactively un-raped). I called it "sex I didn't want and said I didn't want" for years before realizing the other term for that was rape. It took reading about a woman in an even more confusing situation to begin to break down my denial (she wanted to have sex with her boyfriend while away; he would rape her while she was asleep).

I also think there are men who were raped who aren't aware of it consciously, but have difficulties with intimacy because of it. My rapist didn't think he was molested, for example, even though he was too young to consent and she was twice his age, and I believe his inability to recognize my lack of consent directly related to his inability to recognize his own lack of consent. It doesn't make it better, but it makes me easier to cope with the fact I loved him and blamed myself for it.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:16 PM on July 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


Actually, rereading the blog post Max put up about this, I have to amend my position. It's not true that their accounts agree. He allows for the possibility that she saw it that way, but he is not saying it happened the way she said.
posted by koeselitz at 5:19 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


bleep: "I disagree with his assessment of The Onion. Some of their recent and weaker articles go for easy surface-level jokes like that, but they used to go deep. What about "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule"?"

The Onion can still be pretty brutal.
posted by brundlefly at 5:19 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


but over all, it struck me as mean spirited and vulgar with no real purpose to the vulgarity or the triteness.

I've only played it once, but that was pretty much my reaction. Some of the combinations were funny, but others were just sort of pseudo-shocking in a really facile way. Not my thing, though fun for many people, I am sure.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:25 PM on July 31, 2014


I dislike CAH not because of its "offensiveness" (which I do find tedious and eye-rolling) but because it's simply not a fun game. You aren't doing anything strategic, creative, or even interesting. You're just constructing a dumb joke out of a handful of punchlines that have been provided for you.

If you like the gameplay of CAH, let me offer you a step-by-step guide to advance to an actually fun game:

1. Throw away the white cards. Give everyone paper and a pen. Now everyone gets to actually be creative and think of their own funny punchline.

2. Throw away the black cards. Now the dealer gets to provide their own set-up.

3. Play 1000 Blank White Cards.
posted by rifflesby at 5:25 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


Actually, rereading the blog post Max put up about this, I have to amend my position. It's not true that their accounts agree. He allows for the possibility that she saw it that way, but he is not saying it happened the way she said.

Well. He agrees that a thing happened, but says they did not have intercourse and that whatever happened was consensual. Which is pretty standard in these situations. What's troubling (not in the 'I do/don't believe him' sense, but in the 'this is the heart of the problem' sense) is when he talks about consent:
Part of rape culture that hurts everyone is that it makes it difficult to talk about what is and is not consent, and makes it incredibly scary for people to speak up when their boundaries are crossed. It is entirely possible she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup.
I'm not sure that rape culture makes it difficult to talk about consent. Rather, rape culture makes it the responsibility of the person whose boundaries are being violated to make the other party stop. Failing to convince the other party that you do not want to hook up becomes "implied consent" in that environment. "It's possible that she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup" is chilling, not because it is some sort of smoking gun confession but because it is a case study in the ambiguous not-quite-but-maybe-I-thought-consent that is common when people with no vocabulary for it are sexually active.

That's why the idea of positive, explicit consent is important and valuable. That's also why it gets so much angry pushback from "rape culture."
posted by verb at 5:37 PM on July 31, 2014 [18 favorites]


Re: Cards against Batmanity.
When I played CAH without the inane answer cards, the only way to really play, I handily won the "Batman's Guilty Pleasure is...?" round.

Watching The Parent Trap with a box of kleenex...and lotion.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


a dangerous ruin: 'Everyone complaining about the lack of creativity in CAH should give "Once Upon a Time" a try. It is much more free-form than CAH, but still generates hilarious situations and has way more replayability.'

As one of the designers of Once Upon a Time, I thank you for the unsolicited endorsement. Actually I'm working on a post-Apples to Apples game of my own, based partly on my distaste for Cards Against Humanity. I think it's a bad game qua game, but that's not why I dislike it: I find the way it plays with the nature of the magic circle to be potentially dangerous. Specifically it takes dangerous concepts (taboos are taboo for a reason, and before you jump down my throat I was Bizarre magazine's managing editor for its first two years, so I have almost certainly spent a lot more time thinking about the nature, purpose and violation of taboos than you have) and says that they're safe because they're rendered within the magic circle, within the context of a game. But the magic circle is permeable and sometimes fragile. If—to take a case in point—one of the players is a rapist or potential rapist, they will interpret rape jokes as an affirmation that rape is okay, that other people think rape is something you laugh about with friends, and that has the capability to be an enabling behaviour. And that's why I said 'potentially dangerous' a few lines up.
posted by Hogshead at 5:48 PM on July 31, 2014 [38 favorites]


Actually I'm working on a post-Apples to Apples game of my own, based partly on my distaste for Cards Against Humanity. I think it's a bad game qua game, but that's not why I dislike it: I find the way it plays with the nature of the magic circle to be potentially dangerous.

I will playtest the hell out of it if you are in need.
posted by verb at 5:52 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Having read this article, Magz's original statement, Temkins's public response and a couple of critiques of said response (and only having glanced over this comment thread): I am comfortable with playing CAH. I am glad that I own the Bigger, Blacker Box, and I am grateful to have a fairly diverse group of adult friends with which I can play this game.

I am comfortable that my friends all get that it's satire. I don't believe anyone feels pressured into playing it. I do fully believe that playing it with strangers is a mistake.

And for what it's worth: I didn't really care for this article's critique of satire as a whole. Any form of comedy can be taken the wrong way. The world is full of pain and suffering, and we should all do what we can to prevent and alleviate that pain and suffering, but I don't think eliminating comedy is the way to do it--and ultimately I think that's where the thinking of this article leads.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


But the magic circle is permeable and sometimes fragile.

As a long-time rpg player (tabletop), this resonates for me, especially as it connects with my distaste for CAH, which I haven't played because it makes me itchy for reasons I couldn't put my finger on.
posted by immlass at 6:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


An aside, for the unsqueamish: every single rejected and discontinued card can be found in a single list here.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 6:55 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I do fully believe that playing it with strangers is a mistake.

I've always felt this way even about Apples to Apples, without the crass content. It's just a boring game when you know nothing about the judge and don't have the fun of trying to show how well you know them through card selection. (And yes, there are plenty of people who'll say it's boring regardless. Mileage varies. I view it as good fodder for a bullshit session with friends and don't believe I've ever kept score in years of playing.)
posted by asperity at 6:55 PM on July 31, 2014


I do fully believe that playing it with strangers is a mistake.

New Black Card: I can't wait to play cards against humanity with________.

Best rejected cart to play on this might be on the top of one of the lists from what I previously linked above.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 7:01 PM on July 31, 2014


The thing of it is that a majority (some even argue the totality) of humor deals with pain. Cards Against Humanity is explicitly about this. That it can be used to perpetuate racist shit doesn't mean that it can't also be used to find humor in the absurd cruelties of the world. (One of my favorite combos that I've seen was: "The Academy Award for _____ goes to ____" with "black people" and "white people" as the respective answers.) That some people use it lazily or aren't funny with it is an indictment of them, not the game.

Plenty of people are uncomfortable with humor that explicitly revolves around pain; some people are uncomfortable with certain topics. That's OK — the game isn't for everyone.

I also don't think that the creator intent matters all that much to me here. If you think Max Temkin is kidding on the square about rape, don't play with him. But the inability to disconnect authorship from gameplay is a weakness of the article, not a strength.
posted by klangklangston at 7:13 PM on July 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


New Black Card: I can't wait to play cards against humanity with ______________

Mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent

A certain je ne sais quoi

Stevedores

A case of the bends
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Like playing Cards Against Humanity with a bunch of earnest grad students.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:26 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I try to play the game without being judgmental, but it turns out that's the core mechanic, so what you gonna do.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:32 PM on July 31, 2014


I have enjoyed playing CAH under controlled circumstances, and I'm a person who despite being identified as "a funny fellow" NEVER enjoyed "South Park" OR "Family Guy".

Those controlled circumstances were the "Pretend You're xyzzy" online version in game(s) initiated by persons associated with MetaFilter (usually with 'mefi' as password). The first one was in the previous thread about the online game, the second started in Chat.Metafilter, and at least one started in the "slashnet #mefi chatroom", generally known as "a hive of scum and villainy" with a loose historical connection to MeFi. And I started four or five myself during boring times, openly soliciting for players at Chat.Mefi, slashnet.mefi and the slashnet chatrooms loosely affiliated with MeFi spinoffs (you know who you bunnies and monkeys are). Again, none of the "MeFi-people-based" games left a bad taste in my mouth (you who played against me may have had differing experiences). There were some ugly cards played, which rarely were picked as winners, but never enough to matter much to me.

Another controlled circumstance was the choice of Card Sets. The wide assortment of Decks available at "Pretend You're xyzzy" includes some that are relatively lower in offensiveness than the 'default decks', including "90s Nostalgia" (its worst card referred to "Sucking the President's dick" which WAS something that happened in the 90s), "xkcd" (you don't need to have read the comic to get 95% of the references), "Imgur" and "SocialGamer" (light on the offensiveness, heavy on the tired memes) and "Canadian" (semi-obviously). Borderline sets include "House of Cards Against Humanity" (not too dependent on inside jokes but often as hard-edged as Frank Underwood) and the semi-generic "Very Serious" and "Ridiculously Stupid". If you throw in enough semi-safe cards (or 'insider' sets with themes you and the other players know, like "Doctor Who"), you decrease the chances of random offensiveness, and increase the chance of pure non-sequitur silliness. I also go for the maximum number of Blank White Cards (30) unless it's very late and I don't feel very creative myself.

When I tested myself getting into open games with no MeFites, I figured out to avoid two things: The games using the most offensive card decks (most are obvious by names, but "The Guy With The Glasses" is also awful), and any other players with obviously offensive usernames (anything with the f-word, c-word, n-word, Hitler, Stalin or other triggers... sorry, I don't believe you "IAmNotAPedo").

And that's my advice for "Safe(r) CAH". Anybody want to test me?
http://pyx-3.socialgamer.net/game.jsp#game=175 password: mefi
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:35 PM on July 31, 2014


It's cute how the author asserts the epitome of snark is the onion. Man, we've been on a snark reduction since the late 80s when Spy hit their stride, and their eventual end.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:43 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: "An accusation is only libelous if it's a falsehood. In this case, both the accuser and the accused seem to agree in their accounts of what happened."

koeselitz: "he is not saying it happened the way she said."

I believe his article denies 'it' happening at all. Tempkin's article blog states:
We spent a few nights in each others’ rooms, but we never had sex
Is your position then that she thinks they had intercourse but did not? Because your 'it happened' reads as intercourse.


RE: CAH game reviews
At the Mefi Game Night IRLs I've attended, CAH has had the annoying effect of vacuuming your opponents up. It theoretically has a victory condition, which nobody adheres to, and the result of which is once someone breaks out CAH, you get to finish the game you're currently playing and play that for the rest of the night.

As far as pairings go, Say Anything plus CAH black cards could go well, if you want more amusing prompts than 'best action film star', and although it removes some of the anonymity involved in playing a card, you might find that a feature.
posted by pwnguin at 8:06 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing that really causes a knot in MY stomach is the contravening presumption that the victim must be making it up. Because that's pretty much what it always comes back to, even when cases go to trial. She made it up. She was drunk. She was dressed like a slut.

I don't think anyone has said she was drunk or dressed like a slut. Can we not attack straw men? The fact is, whatever happened was 8 years ago, the accuser hasn't provided any evidence or friends who were contemporaneously aware/can back up her account, hasn't described the event(s) in any detail, and she went public after seeing that the accused is now a prominent public figure.

I don't think any of us have much of any idea what happened between these two individuals nearly a decade ago, and to make a rule of assuming guilt in a situation as muddy and faded as this is dangerous. What could Temkin ever say to convince us he is innocent?
posted by crayz at 8:16 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think any of us have much of any idea what happened between these two individuals nearly a decade ago, and to make a rule of assuming guilt in a situation as muddy and faded as this is dangerous. What could Temkin ever say to convince us he is innocent?

I would love it if people could point to any other crime in which the alleged victims are so often presumed to be liars. What do people think is fueling this massive epidemic of women (just women) lying about rape (and rape alone)?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


New Black Card: I can't wait to play cards against humanity with ______________

Mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent

A certain je ne sais quoi

Stevedores

A case of the bends


I was gonna go with "Jehovah's Witnesses".
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:22 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


pwnguin: "I believe his article denies 'it' happening at all. Tempkin's article blog states: 'We spent a few nights in each others’ rooms, but we never had sex' Is your position then that she thinks they had intercourse but did not? Because your 'it happened' reads as intercourse."

Rape can happen without intercourse. This is explicit in most legal definitions of the term. Both say an "awkward hookup" happened, and neither one denies that much.
posted by koeselitz at 8:29 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


That is terrific Hogshead, and is a more profound way of stating something that was kind of itching the back of my head about CAH. I eagerly await what you come up with. I'd volunteer to playtest myself, but really, I'm very distracted right now and can't guarentee it'd get a good airing....

...but there is a good chance I'll be at DragonCon at the end of August. Maybe I could round up a circle of people there and try it out between Are You A Werewolf sessions?
posted by JHarris at 8:31 PM on July 31, 2014


I would love it if people could point to any other crime in which the alleged victims are so often presumed to be liars.

No one is presuming anyone to be a liar. This doesn't need to be a "he's a rapist/she's a liar" binary

If someone posted on Facebook that "I knew Joe Schmoe years ago and just saw him today in the newspaper and want to inform you he stole a bunch of money from me 8 years ago in college", you would be getting out the pitchforks for that person without knowing anything beyond that Facebook post and a couple tweets? You would see no problem labeling that person a "thief"?

I would certainly like to hear more about this situation and be able to form an opinion based on more facts, but no I am not going to call someone guilty based on a Facebook post, and I completely reject the idea that we would rush to judgement on such scant evidence for any other serious crime.
posted by crayz at 8:33 PM on July 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


As far as I can see, there is no unruly mob standing on Max's doorstep with torches and pitchforks. Even metaphorically.
posted by muddgirl at 8:34 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I would certainly like to hear more about this situation and be able to form an opinion based on more facts, but no I am not going to call someone guilty based on a Facebook post, and I completely reject the idea that we would rush to judgement on such scant evidence for any other serious crime.

"Rushing to judgement" is not the only alternative response to "immediate dismissal of the possibility that it's true."
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:36 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Because writing in the permanent record that you assume someone is a rapist based on zero evidence has never ended badly. And I don't think anyone is in the "immediate dismissal of the possibility that it's true" camp - we appear to have the "guilt should be assumed" camp and the "guilt should not be assumed" camp.
posted by crayz at 8:38 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


we appear to have the "guilt should be assumed" camp and the "guilt should not be assumed" camp.

This is a delightful misinterpretation of what I said. No one is "assuming guilt." But the incredible rush to list all of the ways in which he might be innocent, while shutting down anyone trying to make a list of parallel ways in which he might be guilty, is fucked.

Can you not see how "he might be innocent because of x" "well, he might be guilty because of y." "How dare you say he's guilty!" might lead some people to feel that the man's story will always be believed over the woman's? Because this is not a pattern that is isolated to this thread, it happens ever single time a woman speaks up about rape: she is always assumed to be lying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:44 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Do not use the edit feature to add substantially to your comment after the fact.]
posted by cortex at 9:05 PM on July 31, 2014


We started this topic with the quote from the article that "my tendency is in fact to side with the accuser in instances like this where further evidence is unlikely to come out."

I think it should be possible for people to disagree with this tendency without being lumped in with rape apologists.
posted by crayz at 9:08 PM on July 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


""Rushing to judgement" is not the only alternative response to "immediate dismissal of the possibility that it's true.""

Right, but a lot of people in this thread have asserted his guilt.

"But the incredible rush to list all of the ways in which he might be innocent, while shutting down anyone trying to make a list of parallel ways in which he might be guilty, is fucked."

I haven't seen anyone on either side make any sort of list. I have seen people assuming he's guilty or using that assumption to support arguments, and I've seen people dismissing that, along with some bad arguments about a presumption of innocence.

"Can you not see how "he might be innocent because of x" "well, he might be guilty because of y." "How dare you say he's guilty!" might lead some people to feel that the man's story will always be believed over the woman's? Because this is not a pattern that is isolated to this thread, it happens ever single time a woman speaks up about rape: she is always assumed to be lying."

That's a totally valid and reasonable point. That doesn't mean we really know anything about what happened, but is absolutely a good thing to point out when talking about this stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 9:11 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know if it would break the rules to re-post the thing that got removed because I added a sentence to after posting it, so I will paraphrase:

What we've got here is two authors who wrote in depth opinions about a person's guilt of a felony, based solely on very sparse facts gleaned from hearsay from the two parties involved in the alleged crime.

If we're going to talk about a rush to judgement, that's a rush to judgement, and it both spectacularly unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint, and just plain low. Neither author had direct conversations with either Magz or Max. Neither author had a chance to ask either Max or Magz to respond to the statements of the other. Not only that, but the minimal amount of information available is about an incident that took place a long time ago.

They basically just took some social media content and a blog post and wrote narrative around them, based on their pre-existing ideological stances.

The reason these pieces ended up in places with minimal or no editorial control is because no editor worth a damn would let this kind of behavior fly.

And if that's not bad enough, because of the buttons they pushed, these completely irresponsible authors who are playing havoc with peoples lives have a bunch of people jumping on their bandwagon who've put even less thought into the issue than the authors themselves.

This represents a failure of our education systems to teach people even the most basic standards of proof, privacy, and decency.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:19 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's extremely frustrating that "He said he didn't do it" is something we are exhorted to believe means he's right, while "She said he did do it" is something we're exhorted to view with suspicion. Anyone claiming not to support the existing status quo, where something like 8% of rapists ever go to trial and 2% ever serve time, would be well served to examine why they're taking a statement from the accused as more credible than a statement from the accuser.

No one here is on a jury, no one here has any power to force legal consequences on the man accused of rape. So everyone here has a responsibility to look at how their assumptions about who's credible reinforce (or not) an existing reality in which women who are raped are very very very rarely supported, believed, or held as courageous for standing up for their own bodily autonomy.
posted by jaguar at 9:21 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Or to put it more succinctly: nobody but these two people have any idea what actually happened, and it seems like even they might not know what actually happened.

So to take that profound lack of truth and attempt to extrapolate any further truth from it whatsoever, in pursuit of social commentary, is profoundly foolish. To do so in a way that casts aspersions or doubts on either party's reputation is profoundly reckless, even callous.

No matter what may or may not have happened between Max and Magz, the villains here are the authors. And that would be the case no matter what the disputed egregious act was, and no matter who the alleged aggressor was.

This is gossip of the worst kind. Nothing more. If the authors wanted to write a narrative about the very valid problems and horrors of sexual abuse they should've picked another anecdote to hang it on.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:25 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Considering we currently have an open MeTa discussing an article about Kaycee Nicole and Metafilter's role in that particular kerfuffle, I'm quite happy not fully believing an internet accusation simply based on third-hand reporting and anonymous sources. This is not because it's an accusation of rape, but because it's an accusation on the internet. It's the same as believing everything written on Whisper is the truth, just because it's there.

I also found it interesting that the article came across as a smug moralist dismissing all satire as being only for smug moralists, which is why he felt comfortable dismissing an entire form of humour.

I've only played CAH a couple of times, and I can see how familiarity with the cards would deaden the impact of the game over time. I suppose I feel sympathy for all these people who've only played it with closet scumbags, though, because I played with decent people and we had fun being absurd more than just offensive. Oddly enough, having enjoyed the game, I find the descriptions of people who have fun with CAH as being, essentially, poop-joke obsessed arseholes excited to reveal their inner bigotry, as dismissive and insulting, but apparently having had fun with a card game makes me One Of The Bad People, so insults are considered fine.

I'm not more than momentarily angered by much of the scoffing in this thread, but I do think it's the sort of aggressive language that makes this website, more than just even individual threads, a worse place. You might not think CAH is fun, but you shouldn't work to make MetaFilter less fun in the meantime.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:44 PM on July 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Wondering if someone who everyone believes, is scamming her believers is not at all the same as doubting someone who is making a claim that the majority of people always doubt. "I'm dying of cancer" is a claim that tends to elicit sympathy. "That man raped me" is a claim that tends to elicit scorn. Regardless of MRA claims, someone who steps forward and says the latter is someone who is opening herself up to an enormous wave of harassment, abuse, and cynicism; very few people would do so for shits and giggles.
posted by jaguar at 9:54 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


You keep coming back to that. A vague "most of the time it's the truth".

Assuming sexual assault allegations are more often true than not (which I'm betting is a very fair assumption), it still is only fair to use that fact to look at broad societal trends, not an individual situation that we have very limited information about.

I don't think that I have to pick between "she's telling the truth" and "she's lying". I don't have to pick between "he's lying" and "he's telling the truth". There are other options. One is that they remember it differently. But that's a bad option too.

The best option is "I don't know either of these people, there's very limited information here and no opportunity to interview either of them, so the only honest assumption I can make is to assume that I have absolutely no idea what actually transpired between them."

To assume any more, not about societal issues with rape, but about this situation, is profoundly arrogant. And to make declarations about it one way or the other is to be arrogantly aggressive towards a complete stranger, far away. It's indefensible. I will NOT cyber-lynch either of them. I will say I don't know because I don't know.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 10:09 PM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Using statistics and societal trends to make assumptions about an uncertain situation is not exactly intellectually dishonest.

"I don't know what actually transpired, but statistics and societal pressures would be on the side of her having a much clearer interpretation of the truth than him" is a perfectly reasonable position, and not one that's "arrogantly aggressive" nor "cyber-lynching" anyone. (What the hell would "cyber-lynching" entail? Actual lynching involved crediting narratives from in-power people over disempowered people in order to kill those disempowered people, so it doesn't seem to apply to a situation in which a well-respected man is being doubted and is no danger of being killed.)
posted by jaguar at 10:16 PM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


"I don't know what happened, but he's probably a rapist" is, to me, a basically shitty thing to say. But I don't know what else can really be accomplished with discussion here, or that it matters. All I can try to do is affect my own life, and try to make sure I don't proceed without enthusiastic sober consent.
posted by waraw at 10:30 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


What the hell would "cyber-lynching" entail?

Fiber-optic rope

Data throttling
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:32 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Magz' Tumblr, "Humanity Against Sexual Assault"
posted by crayz at 10:36 PM on July 31, 2014


I've never bought that argument, jaguar. It's basically expecting someone who doesn't appreciate the gravity of any of the consequences of making a false accusation of rape to appreciate the gravity of one of the consequences of making a false accusation of rape. You'd have to be such a malevolent clown to begin with. Why would you also then be too thoughtful to just assume it would be easy, especially if you didn't have any actual trauma to cope with? It doesn't make false accusations more likely, but when dealing with people willing to do what right-thinking people wouldn't, I expect the percentage of people who don't think right to be high.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:37 PM on July 31, 2014


Are you kidding me? I have worked with dozens of survivors of rape, and the absolute devastation they experience as they watch their friends side with their rapist (which is the norm, not the exception) is horrible. It's not about hypothetical consequences. Someone making false accusations would get the same immediate pushback -- as evidenced in this thread. There is a huge social cost to accusing someone of rape, and it doesn't change if the accusations are honest or dishonest.
posted by jaguar at 10:48 PM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Given that Magz has decided not to share her real identity it seems unlikely she is facing a huge social cost for her accusations.
posted by crayz at 10:51 PM on July 31, 2014


I agree with all of that, it's not what I was disputing. I am saying that someone whose thinking is warped enough to make a false accusation of rape is likely not to have thought the consequences through very well, and so it can't be assumed they would be deterred by those consequences. I don't think it has any particular bearing on this or any case, I just don't think people who a) haven't been traumatised and b) don't take trauma seriously worry much about retraumatisation.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:06 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've played CAH maybe a couple dozen times. Mostly with my regular gaming group which is a bunch of middle aged guys with mostly well examined back packs. Our game play strives for the clever or unexpected rather than the gross out or cheap -ism laugh. In those games I tend to win a proportionate amount of time.

I've also played a few games with groups with groups whose members are more misogynist, and other -ismist. Those games tended to be a little cringe worthy (in hind site probably a lot cringe worthy but I tend to think the best of people). But I _owned_ those games. Like with 8 people playing I would win half the time. The clever non-gross out play style of my group that I brought to those games along with good skill at tailoring the answer to the judge was recognizably better even with people who played the gross out game.

crush-onastick: "Interesting, we're talking about the game when the article starts off about a rape accusation."

We've had that conversation hundreds of times (heck there is probably an open thread right now discussing it), CAH not so much.

(On long preview: Oh Hai, looks like this is the open thread)

I can't see boycotting a product just because one of the dozens of people involved in the project might turn out to have committed a horrible crime even if that person is one of the lead developers. If only because given the numbers the only thing that wouldn't lead to a boycott of every product produced by a group would be imperfect knowledge.

jfuller: "But the first thing I think of is that, excluding birthday parties for small children, the bar is pretty low for party games: they only have to be fun and funny when you're drunk and/or otherwise substanced up. CAH sounds like a perfect fit."

Those of us who party mind-altering-drug free need a little more.
posted by Mitheral at 12:56 AM on August 1, 2014


I have played CAH a few times, but I've always been the only person in the group who wasn't cis. I didn't even know this card existed (as mentioned in the FPP link) until it came up in a game with feminist friends I trust. There is categorically not a way for that card to be played that is not transphobic - the phrase itself is loaded in at least three ways. But the way in which one of my good friends played it was so horrifyingly stereotypical on top of that that I had to seriously rethink my openness and vulnerability around them and assumptions I'd made about how they conceive of and understand me and trans people as a whole. It absolutely ruined my weekend.

I'd always thought that we were playing it the right way (like in klang's comment), but I don't know that I can be sure anymore. I want to be sure because I don't want to participate in making anyone else to go through that like I did, trying to pretend that I found it as funny as everybody else and then crying in the bathroom. After this incident, I asked my other (non-feminist) board game group to remove the card from the deck - we hadn't gotten around to CAH in that circle but I wanted to make sure that if we did it wouldn't be there. They refused, and honestly, that makes it a lot easier for me. I definitely don't want to play with that card in the deck, and I probably shouldn't be playing with people who refuse to remove it when I ask, anyway. It's a more complicated decision for my feminist gaming circle - the card has been tossed along with a lot of the other plainly awful ones, and we certainly have had fun with it otherwise. But we have so much else to play that it just doesn't seem worth it.

And I want to mention just for clarification that I wasn't "offended" by the play - it hurt, deeply, by activating internalized fears and worries and anger and hate about being trans that you don't expect to have to re-confront and re-bottle in someone else's bathroom mid-game on game night. No amount of lightening up would have allowed me to handle it better, at this point in my life.
posted by Corinth at 1:50 AM on August 1, 2014 [18 favorites]


Which is less acceptable to like these days: Richard Dawkins or Cards Against Humanity?
posted by acb at 2:31 AM on August 1, 2014


CAH is not enjoyed by horrible people. It's enjoyed by very ordinary people who are titillated by the idea of others thinking of them as "horrible" and are still stuck in the preteen phase of awe of dirty words. It's lame, unimaginative, tedious. Whoever said it's ~edgy like Family Guy is ~edgy is right on the money. CAH isn't about the fantasy of being a terrible person, it's the fantasy of being a completely normal person who, like Peter Griffin, can get away with saying boorish things. Fucking spare me.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:15 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do think Temkin's response was reasonably classy, considering that he rejects Megz's assertion as to what precisely occured. I think his blog post is trying to be as generous as possible to his accusor while still saying that he disagrees with her account. Considering many accused with rape would immidately call the accusor a liar, thats reasonably good.

Rape is sort of rare in terms of accusations because you have a victim and an accusor, and you somehow have to balance who you believe. I have fortunately never been in the position where I have been compelled to have to make a decision on my own: in this case it really doesn't matter what I believe, unless I wanted to start boycotting CAH. And seeing as I don't really like CAH, I probably won't do that. I get to be agnostic on the subject, which is probably reasonable when there are two people making conflicting claims.

There actually is some skill to playing CAH with the right group, in that if you want to win you need to tailor your response to the person who is judging. That said, I don't find the action of playing amusing in of itself, and often find that most of the connections simply aren't terribly funny.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:41 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


What the hell would "cyber-lynching" entail?

No idea, but I have a pretty good sense of what comfort with having this as a concept of first resort entails.

I mean, people. This is a difficult discussion involving horrible and traumatizing concepts. Really no need to throw any more in there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


The often-cited problem, as master satirist Tom Lehrer has pointed out (referencing master satirist Peter Cook before him), is that satire always preaches to the choir. It requires you to get the joke to understand it, and the people most likely to get the joke are those who already share the satirist’s opinion. Indeed, the ease of missing the point of satire is part of the point. Satire isn’t intended to teach so much as to test. It’s a way to filter out smart people who share your beliefs from the dumb masses who don’t.

This is something I never considered so explicitly about satire. It's something you think of as very clever, but this makes it sound like another form of lazy reference-based humor. Remember this? Remember that? Optimus Prime!
posted by ignignokt at 5:55 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


What a horrible example. The entire point of the joke she was attacking was against racism. Which she decided was racist.

She has actively discouraged attacking racism.


What a horrible comment. The entire point of the article is that satire like that like that makes things worse. People that don't get it at all are emboldened. People that do get it get assured that they are smart and right. Some of those that get it also get a thrill from hearing some racist talk but casting that thrill as "ironic enjoyment."

Regardless, that kind of satire just makes the net situation. worse. This is the kind of shit that made Chappelle quit.
posted by ignignokt at 6:06 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


The lynching thing kind of feeds back into my feeling about Cards Against Humanity, on reflection: the discussion about the right and the wrong way to play it always puts me in mind of the designer's idea of affordances. An affordance is an interaction possibility suggested by an object's design - a door handle affords twisting and pulling, e.g. A wrench affords adjusting and turning.

A wrench also affords hitting people; most wrenches not only contain the possibility of use to hurt somebody, but offer a pretty decent tool for it - rigid, metal, top-heavy, a good length to be swung in a short arc. You can design a wrench to be be less suited to hitting people on the head, but generally it's accepted that this is an affordance that comes with the design elements that make for a good wrench. And if you drop a wrench, it's not great to be standing underneath it.

Cards Against Humanity is sort of like that wrench, it seems to me, with the positive results of some of its affordances being the having of fun, the passing of time, the building of a sense of group sodality - all the things board and card games are designed for. On the other hand, it also has affordances that have other effects.

"I only do $activity with people who understand how it should be done to avoid hurting the other people involved, which set also includes myself" is absolutely a thing that can be said, and can be true - with $activity being a card game, or kung fu, or extreme body modding or whatever. OTOH, I think people - and especially people with privilege - often overreport their ability to understand and avoid harm.

(Which is in part where we get "hipster racism" and "hipster sexism" - people whose self-perception of themselves as not sexist or racist is so solid that they feel able to handle those materials with impunity, and often get angry when people subject to discrimination tell them that they are not handling them as adroitly as they think. Which I guess ties in to the Suey Park argument, among many other things).

So... yeah. Discussions about CAH often also remind me of this article by Fugitivus, about what happens when someone in your circle of friends makes a rape joke.
Oh, how you wish your friend were an ardent feminist, so you could interpret his comment as a dry observation of the brutal truth, framed humorously to prevent suicide all around. But no, you know he is making a funnay, the punchline being you and every woman you know.

Several options flash through your head.
I think in many cases, pace Fugitivus, the friend may well identify as a feminist, and feel that what they are doing is indeed within bounds and laughing at rape culture, by satirically* mocking the way rape is treated as a joke or no big deal, and not at rape survivors, and so that picking them up on it is "oversensitive" or "hypersensitive".

That's a feeling we see expressed often on the Internet - "I cannot have said a racist thing, because I do not have a racist bone in my body", "how dare you say that you were offended as a woman by this comment? Tell my mother and my wife how much I hate women!" et hoc genus omne - and it rapidly makes the whole thing about the injured party's feelings and person.

And, you know, I think it's to the makers of CAH's credit that they've taken this kind of critique on board over time, and have taken steps to try to draw the potential sting, but it's a lot easier to move an Overton window by pushing at it than by pulling on it.

*This comment is already overlong, but I think another issue here, and a problem I definitely have with Chu's article, is that I don't think Cards Against Humanity is primarily satirical, unless that term is diluted to the point of near-meaninglessness. It's certainly not satirical in the way that Tom Lehrer or the Establishment Club were satirical. The closest other-medium comparison I can see to it is probably a Wayans Brothers movie, or one of the movies in the School of Wayans (Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie and so on) - a mixture of familiar references and gross-out comedy.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:44 AM on August 1, 2014 [12 favorites]


running order squabble fest, wouldn't the "affordance" analogy more appropriately be to a weapon that could also be put to a benign purpose rather than a tool that could be put to a malicious one? I mean, really, just look at the cards. The likelihood that players are going to consistently deploy them in a clever but inoffensive way, rather than in the most obvious crude, shock value kind of way is low. The game is called Cards Against Humanity. It's for terrible people (or for non-terrible people who want the thrill of being terrible for an hour). I think your wrench analogy works better for Apples to Apples, where, if people worked at it, they could make some offensive answers. In CAH, the cards are designed to offend, and it takes the effort and intention of using them differently to generally avoid doing so, making the cards more like a weapon than a tool.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:07 AM on August 1, 2014


Which is in part where we get "hipster racism" and "hipster sexism" - people whose self-perception of themselves as not sexist or racist is so solid that they feel able to handle those materials with impunity, and often get angry when people subject to discrimination tell them that they are not handling them as adroitly as they think.

This is something that happily seems to be declining somewhat here on MetaFilter. Using racism/sexism/etc to either demonstrate your comfort with those topics or as a rhetorical device to make a point rarely works all that well, and few of us have really transcended these things as well as we might think.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a fair point, Moonorb - no metaphor is perfect. In this case, I was thinking of the general affordances provided by the physical design of a deck of cards, however - which on a base level are things like shuffling, dealing, concealing the individuated obverse with a common reverse, putting one card on top of each other, cards continuing to have a physical existence after being played (so "won" hands can be used as victory tokens), and so on. Those are the common affordances to many, although not all, card games. And then the higher-level possibilities are forms of gameplay, forms of mediated social interaction, the achievement of social goals and so on.

(Another comparison might be a bradawl, which resembles to a considerable extent - and has very similar affordances to - a shiv, to the point where a well-balanced bradawl might well be chosen above a purpose-built shiv for the purpose of stabbing someone.)

On the other hand we are being told, here and elsewhere, that CAH can be used as a tool for critiquing societal racism/sexism/transphobia/etc, and for drawing people opposed to those things closer together and strengthening their alliances against inequality and injustice. How accurate those reports are is a decent question, but we should assume that they are at least in many cases sincere.

(That said, and back on affordances, it's also worth noting that a number of aftermarket options exist to make even the most recent, tweaked versions of CAH more transgressive. There's a point at which, if a group insists on only serving puffer fish at their dinner parties to show how great they all are at not poisoning each other, people are entitled to ask themselves if that group is really just into not dying of food poisoning, or if they are getting something else out of that dining experience.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:31 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


As far as I can see, there is no unruly mob standing on Max's doorstep with torches and pitchforks.

CAH's office is one block from my home, and looking down the street just now, the mob has not yet arrived. If I see any change, I'll report back here.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm with pwnguin. If you're at a games night and someone breaks out CAH - or worse, at a perfectly normal party with people you haven't seen in ages and would like to gods forbid talk to - eh, it's time for me to roll it up and go home, because it's the only thing that will be happening for the rest of the night. It never ends, I don't seem to find it as funny as other people do for whatever reason, and honestly, I just cannot wait for people to get over it and move on to something else.
posted by RogueTech at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


We should all play Diplomacy instead.

At least you can be sure the other people at the table are conniving backstabbing assholes, instead of merely guessing.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:27 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I’ve been wondering if satire isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

Well, that's one guy I can cross off my list of People to Take Seriously.
posted by Scoo at 9:38 AM on August 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


This guy should give DayZ a wide berth. When my friends ask me about this game, I usually describe it as a MMO Playground Bully simulator.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:05 AM on August 1, 2014


The often-cited problem, as master satirist Tom Lehrer has pointed out (referencing master satirist Peter Cook before him), is that satire always preaches to the choir. It requires you to get the joke to understand it, and the people most likely to get the joke are those who already share the satirist’s opinion. Indeed, the ease of missing the point of satire is part of the point. Satire isn’t intended to teach so much as to test. It’s a way to filter out smart people who share your beliefs from the dumb masses who don’t.

I'm don't think I agree with this (how many people took A Modest Proposal seriously?) but even so, choirs need preaching and dumb people need filtering. Of course, both of those can be done badly.

(I have no opinion on CAH in particular, having never played.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:10 AM on August 1, 2014


Regarding the issue of satire, I think the best treatment of the subject ever is found in Film Critic Hulk's frustrated review of Fight Club.
Fincher thought people would understand fight club was a satire. We know this because he said "i thought that people would understand it was meant to be satirical." audiences certainly understood the film was funny, but they lost the satirical intention in droves. What is rather telling is how after fincher made that comment in the interview, he then just sort of shrugged it off (possibly surmising that people are kind of stupid) and then claimed it was marketing that actually threw people off. To a certain point he is right, not that people are stupid or that was the marketing (those are both truly lame arguments, especially because the people not understanding it was a satire often saw it later on and loved the movie), but he is right that there is a humane way to look at every single extreme moment in this film and say "yes, of course that's ridiculous, this has to be satire and how could anyone think otherwise?" that is absolutely the proper way to react when you look at the specifics of the detail and plotting in fight club. But that is just sans presentation. The tone of the film and it says something rather different. It presents these ideas as alluring. It makes you genuinely want to live in a shitty apartment, fight dudes, and make soap out of body fat. And to succumb to that doesn't mean that people are stupid, it just means they watch movies viscerally. And guess what? A part of everyone watches movies viscerally so it's not exclusive at all. And by watching movies viscerally, one thing becomes clear:

fincher has no idea how to make a satire.

For illustration purposes (hulk know they different mediums), let's compare fight club to the most famous satire of all time: jonathan swift's essay "a modest proposal" in which he argues the poor children of ireland should be turned into a food source to be of some value to the poor english. Everyone either reacts to the essay by going a) "how funny! He's sending up the detached values of how government approaches human beings" or b) "i can't believe someone would write that! How horrid!" that's ideally how a traditional satire should work. There's shades of grey to how much the satire needs to fit that exact kind of dual reaction, but what totally shouldn't happen is people going "he's right! Let's totally eat those children!"
posted by verb at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2014 [11 favorites]


"It's lame, unimaginative, tedious. Whoever said it's ~edgy like Family Guy is ~edgy is right on the money. CAH isn't about the fantasy of being a terrible person, it's the fantasy of being a completely normal person who, like Peter Griffin, can get away with saying boorish things. Fucking spare me."

Again, this seems like user error. I don't find Family Guy very funny, but CAH has been consistently hilarious. Maybe your friends are just douchebags? Or maybe you just don't like humor from pain.
posted by klangklangston at 10:52 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


"It presents these ideas as alluring. It makes you genuinely want to live in a shitty apartment, fight dudes, and make soap out of body fat. And to succumb to that doesn't mean that people are stupid, it just means they watch movies viscerally. And guess what? A part of everyone watches movies viscerally so it's not exclusive at all."

No, it doesn't make you genuinely want to live in a shitty apartment, fight dudes and make soap out of body fat. It should make you compare that with living an empty life full of Ikea furniture and find them both wanting for similar reasons. It may make some people genuinely want to live in a shitty apartment, etc., and apparently made Film Hulk want to. But despite her dismissing the "people are stupid" argument, that's pretty much exactly what it is — it is stupid to let your visceral desires overcome your ability to think clearly about a piece of media. It's something that's stupid with sincere works, e.g. Call of Duty, it's stupid with semi-parodic works, e.g. Grand Theft Auto, and it's stupid with Fight Club. That's part of the satire.

Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz is sung by people sincerely wanting a Benz, and that doesn't mean it's not a solid satire of materialistic faith.

Concurrent with the idea that audiences now have more acknowledged control over the interpretation of media, e.g. cosplay, remixes, etc., comes with an increased responsibility to understand and critique that media. As creators are more cognizant of the former, audiences need to be more cognizant of the latter.
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, it doesn't make you genuinely want to live in a shitty apartment, fight dudes and make soap out of body fat. It should make you compare that with living an empty life full of Ikea furniture and find them both wanting for similar reasons. It may make some people genuinely want to live in a shitty apartment, etc., and apparently made Film Hulk want to.

I think that characterization is either misunderstanding or flattening the article quite a bit. FCH's point is that a lot of people did walk away from Fight Club saying, "Woah, that was AWESOME!" and wanting to go fight some dudes. I knew them. I was uncomfortable with it, but i found it alluring at the time the movie came out.

You may think that this is a problem that only exists because they were stupid people, but FCH is saying that when a nontrivial number of people respond to satire with, "Hahah! Yeah, that's awesome!" it means that you have failed at satire.


It is stupid to let your visceral desires overcome your ability to think clearly about a piece of media.

I don't think anyone's talking about 'letting visceral desires overcome clear thinking.' The article talks about the visceral message in a work of art contradicting the stated intent of the satirical message. You experience a work of art or a game or a conversation rather than simply analyzing and critiquing it -- and when the visceral queues that surround something "satirical" signal that it is awesome and cool (or in the case of CAH, hilarious and amusing and witty), well. Most of the population doesn't have the critical vocabulary to pick apart those distinctions.

That's not their fault, it's just reality.

"You shouldn't have felt X after watching satire, you should've felt Y!" is perhaps true, but it does leave us with the question -- if someone does feel X, is it simply because they're dumb or is it a failing of the satirical work? Are there perhaps some subjects not well suited for satire because of the number of people who will, in fact, take the satire seriously or who actually hold the views being satirized and will see the satire as support?
posted by verb at 11:41 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


So is the solution to steamroll over the nuances and convincing elements of our satire and make it dead obvious/simple? I'm resistant to the notion that everyone should play to the bleachers.
posted by naju at 11:46 AM on August 1, 2014


So is the solution to steamroll over the nuances and convincing elements of our satire and make it dead obvious/simple? I'm resistant to the notion that everyone should play to the bleachers.

I don't know, are you proposing that solution? I asked a question.
posted by verb at 11:56 AM on August 1, 2014


Well I guess my answer to your question is that there are some people or a lot of people who won't get it, but that it's not necessarily a failing of the satire, just a testament to the wide range of interpretations anyone can have to any work at all. I found Fight Club to be dead obvious in its satire FWIW, and it sounds as though FCH wanted some more hit-you-over-the-head "hey guys this is actually bad by the way" than what was already there. It's like criticizing The Great Dictator because Charlie Chaplin didn't actually say he thinks Hitler is a bad person. OK I'm exaggerating but still.
posted by naju at 12:04 PM on August 1, 2014


That can function as part of the satire too, though, right? Like the Yes Men make the fact that people believe their awful parodies of capitalism and politely applaud them as part of their satirical schtick...

(Although I don't think that maps to Cards Against Humanity...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:05 PM on August 1, 2014


That can function as part of the satire too, though, right? Like the Yes Men make the fact that people believe their awful parodies of capitalism and politely applaud them as part of their satirical schtick...

Is exploiting Poe's Law satire? Or something else?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:20 PM on August 1, 2014


naju: Well I guess my answer to your question is that there are some people or a lot of people who won't get it, but that it's not necessarily a failing of the satire, just a testament to the wide range of interpretations anyone can have to any work at all. I found Fight Club to be dead obvious in its satire FWIW, and it sounds as though FCH wanted some more hit-you-over-the-head "hey guys this is actually bad by the way" than what was already there. It's like criticizing The Great Dictator because Charlie Chaplin didn't actually say he thinks Hitler is a bad person. OK I'm exaggerating but still.


I'd really recommend reading the actual article if you think that Film Critic Hulk was saying that. I really do think it's one of the best and most thoughtful analysis of the question of satire versus lazy appropriation in art that I've ever read, and simply saying "Oh, he wanted something moralistic" is not doing it justice.

If you don't want to read it, I understand -- it's a long piece. But it's pretty disingenuous to characterize it that way.
posted by verb at 12:31 PM on August 1, 2014


Alright, I'm being a bad commenter. I promise I'll get to it.
posted by naju at 12:37 PM on August 1, 2014


I didn't mean to put moral weight on that -- just noting that the article really is a long read, and that it tackles many of the "Oh, do you just mean X? That's going too far!" objections that are often raised when satire is critiqued. One can disagree with it, sure, but it's definitely not a simple call for simple moralistic messages or a call to pander to the least intelligent consumers.
posted by verb at 1:40 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I think that characterization is either misunderstanding or flattening the article quite a bit. FCH's point is that a lot of people did walk away from Fight Club saying, "Woah, that was AWESOME!" and wanting to go fight some dudes. I knew them. I was uncomfortable with it, but i found it alluring at the time the movie came out."

More that I disagree with her, and think she kind of missed part of the point of the movie which, in keeping with a common Palahnuik theme that the things we want are often hollow and destructive, and that the more alluring something is, the more destructive it has the capacity to become. I don't necessarily agree with him totally on that, but when film hulk says, "IF THE POINT IS TO ULTIMATELY REJECT THE INNER-TYLER, WHY THE FUCK DOES IT SPEND TWO HOURS MAKING YOUTHFUL NIHILISM AND NOT-GROWING-UP AS SEDUCTIVE AND PROFOUND AS FUCKING POSSIBLE?" the answer is because youthful nihilism and not-growing-up are really seductive and full of false profundity and that's what can make them a figurative life and death struggle to reject.

And honestly, that essay is all over the place — like the effort in slagging on Ebert, alleging that he said the final 20 minutes "Ruined a masterpiece." But the only source I can find for that is film hulk, and Ebert's actual review is chockablock with concerns about how people will miss the argument of Fight Club and how it's downhill from the second act on.

(Hulk also mistakes the reaction to Modest Proposal, where there actually wasn't much of one [PDF, footnote 11].)

I don't think that Fight Club was an entirely successful movie, and the problems with aestheticizing violence and pain are a longstanding topic in media criticism (see Sontag's writing on photojournalism). But Hulk is positing an unworkable definition of satire and arguing from assertions, not evidence. In general I like Film Hulk more than Fight Club, but that essay has some big flaws in it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on August 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


""You shouldn't have felt X after watching satire, you should've felt Y!" is perhaps true, but it does leave us with the question -- if someone does feel X, is it simply because they're dumb or is it a failing of the satirical work? Are there perhaps some subjects not well suited for satire because of the number of people who will, in fact, take the satire seriously or who actually hold the views being satirized and will see the satire as support?"

Sorry, meant to include this in the last comment.

For the first question, the answer is: "Could be either." For the second, no. It can be a challenge for the author of the satire, but that doesn't mean that the subject is inherently not well suited because of the possibility of being seen as kidding on the square.
posted by klangklangston at 2:16 PM on August 1, 2014


"FCH's point is that a lot of people did walk away from Fight Club saying, "Woah, that was AWESOME!" and wanting to go fight some dudes. I knew them. I was uncomfortable with it, but i found it alluring at the time the movie came out."

Verb. Yes. Yes. Yes. This. Those dudes. The boys at my highschool formed a fight club of their own the year the movie came out, which fizzled pretty quickly once they realized that getting the shit beat out of you isn't actually very fun. These are the same kinds of boys, now men, who think CAH is a delightful group activity. It allows them to take enjoyment or humor from pain, like klangklangston says, in a prepackaged way that doesn't require them to actually process or engage with that pain before transforming it into something funny and cathartic. They didn't want to hit anyone and they didn't want to have to get hit, and CAH provides 'dark' humor that allows you not to get hit, much like hipster sexism and racism comes almost exclusively from people who have never been the targets of the prejudices they want to be allowed to use as toys.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:10 PM on August 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Interesting and peripherally related: Research from Western Carolina University that indicates sexist men who are exposed to sexist jokes become more comfortable acting out sexism. Which is pretty much the kind of dynamic that uncomfortable folks in the thread said they'd observed.
posted by verb at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2014 [15 favorites]


>Stan and Wendy both get to say really insightful things while everyone else around them is terrible.

Really? This is the most insufferable part of the show. Stan and Wendy’s Voice of Reason is often the voice of Matt and Trey’s libertarian, anti-faith, anti-political correctness agenda. Don't get me wrong, I agree with them a lot of the time, but they don't get a free pass on their own moralistic agenda just because they tweak their own noses from time to time.

South Park is a good study model for misunderstood satire that causes harm. The running joke about “gingers" without souls is clearly supposed to tweak the stupidity of racism, and yet instead it has inspired a whole new brand of bullying.

It turns out that we really can’t have nice things.
posted by Skwirl at 8:33 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Skwirl: "yet instead it has inspired a whole new brand of bullying."

Don't give them too many points for creativity here. Technically it's just an import from the UK.
posted by pwnguin at 9:14 AM on August 4, 2014


Don't give them too many points for creativity here. Technically it's just an import from the UK.

Yes, but it was basically unheard-of in the US until that episode, as my beleaguered redheaded friends can tell you.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:22 AM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Man, that must have been a bad day for Ed Begley Jr. Day the world changed...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:30 AM on August 4, 2014


Yes, but it was basically unheard-of in the US until that episode, as my beleaguered redheaded friends can tell you.

As an American child and teenager in the 80s and 90s I was regularly bullied for having red hair. Maybe it's worse? I have no idea. But unheard of? No way.

Meanwhile, my redheaded friends and I have often made jokes about not having souls. Maybe that's just us, so YMMV.
posted by brundlefly at 11:06 AM on August 4, 2014


It used to be that puns were considered the lowest form of wit. Then people started copiously quoting South Park and Family Guy.
posted by JHarris at 1:02 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


It used to be that puns were considered the lowest form of wit.

By FOOLS!
posted by brundlefly at 1:21 PM on August 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


CAH nothing, I want to know: when did everyone decided South Park was as disposable as Family Guy?

I don't watch either on the reg but they are just not the same things or even germane to the discussion of CAH which is, probably, more comparable to something like TOSH.0 or the Jesselnick Offensive.

Actually, CAH strikes me as being EXACTLY like TOSH.0 - much more than FG or SP.
posted by Tevin at 10:19 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


South Park isn't as disposable, but it still tends to get quoted kind of mindlessly, in contexts where the fact of the quote itself is supposed to be the joke.

Further, sometimes South Park does something blitheringly stupid, like memeing ManBearPig. Thanks Parker and Stone, for taking global warming, one of the greatest issues we as a species have ever faced, and implying it's a ridiculous myth. ManBearPig is going to look pretty damn idiotic to following generations.
posted by JHarris at 3:26 PM on August 5, 2014


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