Well, the political correctness clowns have sort of already called them out, but when the actual pitchfork and torch brigades show up at their door is another thing. The game of Cards Against Humanity is fantastic. It’s hilarious, usually played after more than a few drinks, with the ability to come up with the most darkly humorous and outright outrageous word combination to score points. It’s a great game. The humor is not for liberals, and the game probably has been a point of contention for these humorless progressives, but now there’s a new attack line. The workplace was hostile (via Vox):
The popular card game company faced multiple allegations of fostering a long-standing abusive, racist workplace culture earlier this month. After weeks of discussion online, including a resurfaced 2014 rape allegation, the best-known Cards Against Humanity co-founder, Max Temkin, has left the company.
On June 23, Cards Against Humanity published a statement in a preemptive response to a pending report by Vox sister site Polygon. The company alternately confirmed and contradicted many of the allegations made against it while also outlining the actions it would take to rebuild its workplace to eliminate toxicity. “We are incredibly sorry, and we know our apologies are not enough,” a company spokesperson told Polygon. The company also told Vox in an email that it would pledge $100,000 to support organizations working toward racial justice.
Cards Against Humanity (CAH) has long been a bastion of “edgy” geek culture. Since the company was founded in 2011, its mini-empire has grown to include a board game cafe and a theater in Chicago and the recent acquisition of satirical news site Clickhole. The company’s estimated lifetime revenue is as high as $25 million as of 2017. But CAH is best known for pushing social boundaries, whether by mocking social ills like racism, misogyny, and transphobia or through grandiose nihilistic stunts like selling “nothing” for $5 on Black Friday or threatening to destroy a Picasso. Such stunts helped attract its huge fandom — in 2017, its six-day-long CAH Save America campaign garnered national attention and won a Clio advertising award — but also drew plenty of side-eyes from naysayers who found its cynicism off-putting.
CAH’s namesake card game, a self-proclaimed “party game for terrible people,” is an off-color derivative of the family-friendly Apples to Apples, the Mad Libs-style party game. Players use a small handful of words to fill in blanks within loaded phrases for maximum comedic effect, and the appeal lies in the goal of creating a more shocking, provocative one-liner from your hand of cards than your fellow players in order to be dubbed the funniest player in the group. It’s the kind of wordplay silliness that goes over well among a lot of drunk party-goers.
The reason the game’s design didn’t create an immediate clusterfuck when it launched largely had to do with the message and appearance of the company itself. Founded by eight male, white, liberal high school buddies from Chicago, CAH was born out of what we might think of as the peak of ironic comedy culture. South Park first epitomized this sensibility, and it carried forward through pop culture of the 2000s and 2010s. Everything from shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Big Bang Theory, movies like The Hangover and Superbad, the Broadway musicals Avenue Q and Book of Mormon, and vast swaths of internet culture, from YouTube to Reddit, thrived on the idea that over-the-top “satire” was the sincerest form of comedy
Critics’ chief complaint about CAH has always been that, like with all mainstays of ironic culture, they feel alienated by the suspicion that all that joking bigotry was secretly real once the party is over. Now, in the wake of the many allegations of workplace abuse, racism, and sexual harassment made by former staff members, along with the rape allegation against Temkin, former fans and supporters are questioning whether the company that spent years putting “jokes” about such issues onto the shelves of urbane, white, middle-class households across America was actually ever in on its own joke.
You can read more about the hostile workplace allegations in the Vox piece. Frankly, I simply do not care. I have CAH. We play CAH. And we laugh at CAH. And if playing CAH is something that liberals find inappropriate, then you can bet we’ll be playing it more often. Did this game mask toxic culture from the get-go? That’s what’s being discussed and debated at Vox and other liberal circles. Look, it seems like they’ve apologized for missteps and what appears to be some bad workplace practices. Let’s see what happens. That Temkin guy is gone. Sorry, there’s just so much RAM in my head, and I simply do not care if liberals find CAH problematic. The workplace drama is just another swipe in this campaign to entrench political correctness into our everyday lives—hard pass.