Nasty Playing Cards and Apologies

There’s a new card game making the rounds that’s designed to offend. What does it say about our culture that this marketing strategy actually works?

“Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people,” reads the game’s website. “Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.”

The game’s concept is simple: A dealer issues a black fill-in-the-blank card, and using their a handful of white answer cards, players try to come up with the funniest (and often most offensive-sounding) combination. The player who accomplishes that wins the round.

For example, a typical black card begins “The class field trip was completely ruined by – .” The white cards offer answers, including famous people: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, and then more colorful attacks. The deck includes both “Glenn Beck being harried by a swarm of buzzards” and “Glenn Beck catching his scrotum on a curtain hook.”

You can also try the religion-mocking cards, including “The Pope,” “The Jews,” “The Holy Bible,” and even “Muhammad (Praise Be Unto Him).”

Don’t bother complaining. The game’s rules manual ends with the request to send all complaints to Dick Cheney at the American Enterprise Institute offices in Washington, DC.

Oh, wait. Max Temkin, the creator of this new sensation in rudeness, found one group he felt he had to apologize for including. It wasn’t “elderly Japanese men.” It wasn’t the cards unleashing laughs about “a robust mongoloid” or “kids with ass cancer.” It wasn’t even “Two midgets s–tting into a bucket.”

Ready? It was “passable transvestites.” Nineteen-year-old Jonah Miller, who “identifies as transgender,” lit the card on fire, posting a photo to his Tumblr and Instagram accounts with the caption “DEATH TO TRANSPHOBIA.”

This apparently required Temkin to confess, “I regret writing this card, it was a mean, cheap joke. We took it out of the game a while ago.” Here’s a game designed to be “despicable,” and yet Temkin found just one card that was a “mean, cheap joke”?

Disgraced bicyclist Lance Armstrong tweeted out the card that says “Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle,” one he lost to cancer. Temkin didn’t pull that card or apologize.

But Armstrong is a straight white male. Temkin has proclaimed he doesn’t want to “victimize people in marginalized groups.” He wants to make fun of  “power structures,” so “Making jokes about rapes, making jokes about trans people, they don’t have the same cultural power.”

Obviously, “trans people” are making it quite clear they’re beginning to pack a wallop of cultural power. Temkin boasts of adding cards that mock “heteronormativity,” “the patriarchy” and “white privilege.”  

Don’t worry. You can still combine cards for the concept “What am I giving up for Lent?....Altar boys.” You can still enjoy combining “In the new Disney Channel Original Movie, Hannah Montana struggles with....Stifling a giggle at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis.”

Because apparently nothing is funnier than a Rwandan genocide.

Or “Instead of coal, Santa now gives children....Pac-Man uncontrollably guzzling [semen].” And “I drink to forget....[masturbating] into a pool of children’s tears.” You can still enjoy the combo “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to....Firing a rifle into the air while balls deep into a squealing hog.”

But the “passable transvestites” have been spared. They hold the privileged place of sacredness, free from mockery. Thank G-d for standards.