25/01: Lose a Turn... Forever: The Insidious Relationship Between Children's Board Games and Totalitarian Government Subservience
Monopoly The ultimate capitalist dystopia, a horrific mirror of 80's consumer culture where the unobtainable American Dream--perpetual accumulation of wealth and material gain--is an end unto itself. This is a scaled-down simalacrum of real-estate tycoonship, the most boring topic a game has ever been based on, next to "Chutes and Ladders" (also, that game resulted in more broken legs and spinal injuries from children trying to replicate the game in real-life scenarios than I care to imagine. Laundry chutes, dumbwaiters, and ladders tall enough to reach the drains on top of the garage your dad was always making you clean out are not toys.) "Monopoly" brainwashes young people into believing in little or no limit to corporate power; there are no cards in the Community Chest for filing an anti-trust lawsuit, taxes are left to "Chance," not based on paying your fair share from outrageous financial gain through seedy green motels, rampant privatization of public services like Waterworks, no socialized healthcare to speak of, a corrupt police department that is constantly arresting the guy in the little race car for only going 5 mph over the speed limit and sending him to jail without formal charges or even letting him pass "Go" or collect $200. Occasionally, you will be forced to give a breadcrumb to a charity to keep your P.R. department happy, just like Nike, who spend more advertising the fact that they gave to charity than on the actual donation itself. From here on out, I'm calling that if you roll "doubles" with the dice three times in a row, you get to yell your choice of "Yahtzee!" "Jenga!" or "Bolshevik!" and light the game board on fire, then distribute every dollar in the bank evenly among the players. At least in the game of "Life," love and happiness are factored in; if "Monopoly" wanted to be more realistic, there would be a space on the board called "Lose your humanity."
Sorry! Designed to create anger and animosity among close friends, "Sorry!" is the board game most likely to result in a fist-fight breaking out between two people who have never been in an argument before. The end-game corporate America is going for here is to breed distrust and greed to discourage and break up existing labor unions. It also preaches that it's ok to screw your neighbor as long as you apologize. "Oh, I took your newspaper off the driveway and into my home because it was 51% on my lawn. Sorry!" "Hey, I rear-ended your Skylark backing up sideways out of my garage where I parked it drunk last night. Sorry!" "Your daughter's pregnant? Probably from my dick. Sorry! What do you mean I can't come to her graduation party? You only beat the 8th grade once! I said 'Sorry!'" In addition, "Sorry!" is a natural precursor to crappy drinking games like "Asshole" that people force you to play to generate superficial conversation because everyone's afraid to talk about their real feelings. If you want to get drunk, just do a shot, don't let the luck of the draw from a deck of cards or someone's precision at bouncing a quarter off their cock into a glass determine when or if you catch a buzz. No surprise that the game pieces are shaped exactly like Chess pawns, the canon fodder of the game world.
Clue Although it's the only board game to be made successfully into a major Hollywood comedy staring Martin Mull and Madeline Kahn, "Clue" leaves one killer question unanswered: In a mansion large enough to boast a library, billiards room, and conservatory, why is there no second floor or basement? There's no metaphor here, I just think that was a glaring oversight by our friends at Milton Bradley. The real story is that by playing "Clue" just a few times, you begin to eye all minorities or leftist groups suspiciously, and want to accuse them of committing murders using various inconvenient weapons, like a candlestick (which would leave burns on the murderer's arm or sleeve when turned upside-down to use as a bludgeon, making the whole investigation unecessary) or a wrench (who could ever locate a wrench in the heat of homicidal rage?). Think about the names of the characters represented by the colored game pieces: Ms. Scarlett (the American Indian, most likely Apache), Col. Mustard (Japanese-Americans, who you will recall were placed in internment camps for much of WWII), Mr. Green (environmentalists), Professor Plum (purple-skinned Venusians), and Mrs. Peacock (African-American animal rights activists). If you've ever paid close attention and stopped trying to incarcerate anyone different than you and your immediate family, you'd notice that the friendly maid, Mrs. White--the only caucasian at the fatal dinner party--is never found guilty of killing Mr. Boddy in the kitchen with the revolver (or flushing with the handle in the bathroom. Seriously.). The prison industrial complex is alive and well, while the countless hordes starve in the cellar we can't even see, just like in the movie The People Under the Stairs. Trial by jury is the American way, but mob rule--an investigation by an unqualified kangaroo court--is a travesty of justice. And did you ever notice there is no actual punishment for the guilty? The game just ends. I demand that the murderer be exiled into another room to deal himself solitarire (minus the queens) for no fewer than 60 minutes, with no chance of parole, while everyone else gets to play "Pictionary."
Risk Join the armed forces and risk it all so you can pay for a useless college education and have people say things like, "He's protecting our freedom," even though you're really not. The self-proclaimed "Game of World Conquest" instills the "might makes right" mentality of Cold War-era military imperialism, which has been reborn--much like a hawk-esque phoenix--in a manner of speaking, here in the post-9/11 Christian-fascist Brave New World. That last sentence was epic. Seriously, read it again. This game implies mass violence and even genocide on a holocaust-sized scale. Easily warping the maleable minds of players ages 8 to adult and creating hate groups, serial killers, and tattoo artists in its wake, "Risk" predated the bloody, oft-maligned video game, "Grand Theft Auto," which is not sold to minors, but sadly, there were no (and are still not, unbelievably) parental rating systems for board games. If there were, racier fare, such as "Girl Talk," would definitely be harder to get at Walgreens' than cold medicine with psuedoephedrine (which I fucking need because I have some flu-like symptoms and a sore throat over here). But the worst thing was that "Risk" was the only game manufactured and packaged without any instruction booklet. You'd look again and again at the inside and outside of the box, like, "How the fuck do you play this?" before realizing that like in real-life corporate America, there are no rules, even the Geneva convention gets trampled on as long as you really want to use your new tax-payer-bought camera-phone to take a picture of you mocking someone in shackles who isn't even a terrorist. Yet it always came with like 400 multi-colored pieces of varying shapes and sizes that you would lose everywhere in the house, almost as many as in "Battleship" I'm still finding red and white pegs in my couch cushions, and I just got this sofa a month ago, and don't even own "Battleship." Parker Bros. can go fuck themselves, all three of them.
Candyland Clearly a learner's permit for hardcore drug abuse. Playing a psychedlic, psychotropic, and flat-out psychopathic game when one is barely out of kindergarten is a nearly infallible way to ensure substance addiction in adolescence or adulthood. Much like Camel's cartoonish "Joe Cool," the "Marlboro Man" cowboy, or the somewhat lesser-known "Winnie, the Princess of Tobaccoville (found on Winston Lights ads in some areas of the Netherlands)," the fun, vibrant colors and shapes in "Candyland" promote all the benefits of taking a trip and getting high, without the side-effects, ie: loss of health, money, ambition, and socialization. With none of these, the masses are helpless to mobilize, speak out, or even attain cognizance of the Man's nefarious schemes against the proletariat. The "code-words" are so cutesy and in-your-face that my blood boils thinking about the ease with which the life-poisoner has slithered into our collective subconscious: Queen Frostine=Cocaine, Mr. Mint=Marijuana, Lord Licorice=Black Tar Heroin, Mama Ginger Tree=Opium, Princess Lolly=Ecstasy, Gramma Nutt=PCP, et-fucking-cetera. I will conclude by saying it's no accident that because it employs use of neither words nor numbers, "Candyland" is the one game you can play while drunk, high, or even in the early stages of cardiac arrest.
Ed. Note 10 years ago the PM staff journalized another explosive expose entitled "Breakfast Cereals: Convenient and Great-Tasting Morning Goodness, or Just Another Tool of the Man?" Read it if you like, but wait an hour before doing so, this much mind-blowing information could be detrimental to your nervous system and make you crave truth in dangerous parts of your mind and heart.