Have you heard of Cards Against Humanity, the self-described party game for horrible people? "Unlike most of the party games you've played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," the website explains. From what I've heard (I've never played it, but I keep hearing people talk about it recently) it's like Apples to Apples created by internet trolls.
The game, which anyone can download under a Creative Commons license, is massively popular — it's gotten excellent reviews and is currently sold out. (You can use it for free, but it costs money if you want to sell it.) Here's how it works: Each round, one player asks a question from a Black Card, and everyone else answers with the White Card they think is the best/funniest match. Black Cards are Mad Libs-esque, such as "When I was tripping on acid, ____ turned into _____" and "Why am I sticky?" White Cards are nouns — as offensive as possible — such as "roofies" "the gays" "not giving a shit about the third world" "Sarah Palin" "bitches" "Auschwitz" "the Virginia Tech massacre" and "surprise sex!", to name only a few examples.
In theory, you play to your audience: if your friends are the type of people who think "date rape" is a hilarious response to "What will always get you laid?", that's how the game will go, and if not, it'll be more PG-rated. But I've heard multiple stories this week about people who've felt uncomfortable in new social situations after playing Cards Against Humanity.
For example, my friend's cousin, who just moved here from Iran, was shocked when she played with a group of new friends who were solidly in the "rape jokes rule" camp. She couldn't understand why they would think poking fun at rape was funny; in fact, she said she felt traumatized by the experience. Another friend's little sister said she played the game with her roommate — who has a photo of Osama bin Laden dancing with puppies as the background of her phone and thinks anti-Semitic jokes make for good times — and felt uncomfortable with her choices but didn't know how to handle it other than shut up and play.
The game makes me think about this one day during my freshman year of college that I'll never forget. I was studying for a final with a group of people I didn't know very well, and they had all come over to my dorm's common room, which had a menorah in it and some dreidel stickers on the windows. (My RA was trying to keep things festive and we already had a massive Christmas tree downstairs.)
"Wow, it's like a gas chamber in here," one kid said when he walked in.
Everyone laughed, except me. I was the only Jew in the room, and I just didn't think it was very funny. I was shocked that a bunch of my ostensibly cultured peers — we were all UC Berkeley students studying for a final on Milton, so we were all at least capable of intelligently discussing Paradise Lost — would.
I definitely think it's possible to make a good rape joke, and clever Holocaust jokes, too. But there's a difference between a funny joke and a dumb offhand remark that only serves to prove how above being offended you are. (Hipster racism, anybody?) I didn't say anything back in the dorms, because I didn't want anyone to think I was lame. And I can only imagine how many freshman girls are staying quiet while playing Cards Against Humanity when their new friends put down "Raping and Pillaging" for the best answer to "How Did I Lose My Virginity?" because they're scared of being told to lighten up.
Buy Cards Against Humanity from Amazon.
(Image via mandeellen)