Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shock Humor and Being Offended: My Time with Cards Against Humanity

If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.
-Benjamin Franklin

Typically our blog tries to cover video gaming or related topics but I feel as though one little card game wants me to break this unwritten rule we usually follow. For those that don't know, Cards Against Humanity is similar to Apples to Apples but "for horrible people". Each round, one player asks a question from a Black Card, and everyone else answers with their funniest (or most offensive) White Card. I was finally able to get a deck of these after the product being out of stock on Amazon for many weeks.
I brought out Cards during the tail end of a party at my house as I thought the remaining late-twenty-somethings would get a kick out of it. Four hours later my face and abs hurt from laughing so hard for so long and yet as much fun as we were having I'm not sure I would have wanted my mother in the room. You see the "offensive" nature of Cards goes all the way. When you see a Black Card played that asks, "Why do I hurt all over?" and your options in your hand are "Auschwitz", "The Milkman", "A Zesty Bean Burrito" and others just as bad - you know what kind of experience you're in for. You also discover that your sweet innocent wife has a dark sense of humor you never knew about.

The four hour experience got me thinking about humor and games. So often during first person shooters or action games we start laughing uncontrollably from our own grisly death or that of a friends. While that might seem disconnected from seemingly racist, sexist or misanthropic humor contained in Cards Against Humanity; I believe it's one in the same. Horrible violence occurring on screen and wildly offensive statements and comparisons all make us laugh even as we try to sputter how horrible it was. Some people still will get upset over these types of situations or find the whole ordeal repulsive but I think there's significant evidence to suggest that a good portion of those people are merely displaying behavior they believe society expects of them.

A man getting his head blown off by a shotgun is a horrible and offensive thing and yet The Last of Us demo had people cheering and laughing. People cringe at stories of a man eating another mans face after consuming bath salts and will make jokes about the situation moments later. These terrible things can be joked about because they help us rid ourselves of the negativity and bad feelings we have about the subject matter. Offensive jokes, ala Cards, are able to be enjoyed because no one actually believes any of the things they are saying. The ideas presented are so terrible as to enter the realm of ridiculousness. This subject matter is to be mocked and played with because no one actually feels the way the joke states.

I think this is healthy. Have those over the top violent moments in your video games and make those offensive jokes as horrible as possible. I think Dolly Parton said it best,

I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb... and I also know that I'm not blonde.
Lighten up people.

Buy Cards Against Humanity

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