Cards Against Humanity, LLC is getting as well-known for its holiday promotional stunts as for its raunchy flagship card game. Past pranks, like shipping literal bullshit for Black Friday or raising funds to dig a giant “Holiday Hole” in the middle of nowhere, have made headlines. However, this year’s joke is a bit more practical, and its pretense is more ambitious. On November 14, CAH announced that they officially own land on the US-Mexico border – for the purpose of “saving America.”
Cards Against Humanity Saves America
This refers to Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, a major talking point in his presidential campaign. Despite the existence of prototypes as of last October, the wall remains unbuilt one year after the election. CAH dislikes the idea, calling it “a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing” in their announcement. They also called Trump “a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans.” To this end, they went ahead and bought an unknown number of acres in an unknown part of the border. They also retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain. Their goal: “to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.”
This is all part of their latest promotion, Cards Against Humanity Saves America. Anyone who signs up will receive six surprise gift packages in the mail, for only $15. It’s similar to their 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit from 2013, in which they gave their customers coal for Christmas. If you’re interested, then you’re out of luck: hours after the first announcement, they already sold out their subscriptions.
Customers will receive a map of the purchased land and a certificate of CAH’s promise to fight the wall. These gifts, as well as new cards and other unspecified goodies, are just for Day 1 of the promotion. The other five days remain surprises, meaning this borderland buy may only be the first of several audacious stunts. Expect to see more as we get closer to the winter holidays.
Is CAH Getting Political?
Some fans of the politically incorrect card game may chafe at this prank on the Trump administration. The same people who complain about outspoken actors and athletes will likely complain that CAH is getting too political. However, this isn’t the company’s first politics-based promotion, or even their second.
In August 2016, they released separate expansion packs themed to Trump and Hillary Clinton. They marked each purchase as a “vote” for one and counted the total sales for each pack. “Depending on which pack gets more support,” they declared, “we will donate all the money in support of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” The Clinton packs won anyway, selling $93,000 while the Trump packs only sold $80,000.
Earlier in May, they sold a Trump-themed expansion pack that came with a “Bug-Out Bag.” The survival kit contained water purification tablets, a Mexican citizenship application, and a locket with a photo of Barack Obama. Both of these expansions explicitly showed the company’s partisanship towards Clinton during the divisive 2016 presidential race. Their latest stunt may be a more direct action against Trump, but they started publicly deriding him a year-and-a-half ago. And the roots of this activism go back to Max Temkin, co-creator of the game.
The Liberal Roots of CAH
Temkin has been interested in politics since high school, when 9/11 happened and the Iraq War started. He said these events spurred him to read more about politics online and later join the debate team. In 2004, he saw Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, speak at an anti-war rally and immediately volunteered for his US Senate campaign. He eventually also worked for Obama’s 2008 presidential run. This gives a new meaning to the Obama locket from the Trump Bug-Out Bag.
His experiences with the Obama campaigns directly affected the development of Cards Against Humanity. He had to teach himself graphic design for his work as an intern at campaign headquarters. This later influenced the stark design of the game’s cards. Later, he discovered Kickstarter when campaign design director and personal influence Scott Thomas used it to publish a book. Temkin eventually used the site to raise funds for the game. Arguably, Cards Against Humanity would have never gone past his friend group without his experience working for Obama.
Incredibly, the roots of his approach to political activism – pranking his enemies – go even further back. Temkin’s grandfather Ira Weinstein, a WWII fight pilot, became a POW after being shot down and captured in Germany. He and other Jewish POWs devised ways to pester their captors in ways that wouldn’t get them killed. They dubbed themselves “The Nuisance Committee.” Temkin borrowed this name for a CAH-founded super PAC that slapped obnoxious anti-Trump messages on billboards throughout 2016. In case you’re wondering, yes: according to spokesperson Melissa Harris, “the comparison between Trump and Hitler is intentional.”
Cards Against Trump
Not dissimilar to his grandfather, Temkin understands the political value of humor. Comedy can be a strong vehicle for an idea or viewpoint, or at least bring attention to one. Cards Against Humanity is a hit, especially among the youth. Temkin knows he can use his game as a platform to spread his message to his demographic – and to everyone else, through subsequent media exposure. You may think he bought land on the border, a political action, just to promote his game. In fact, he’s also using his game to promote political views that he likes. In this decidedly modern way, he’s blended his activism with his new line of work.
As Charlie Hall notes in a 2013 profile for Polygon, “Temkin got into politics to try to bring about change. But in the end that change didn’t come from politics. It came from games.” In this reporter’s view, the self-proclaimed “party game for horrible people” is definitely a party game fighting horrible people.
Interestingly, Cards Against Humanity Saves America’s FAQ provides a typically colorful response to demands that it stick to card games. Their concise answer: “Why don’t you stick to seeing how many Hot Wheels cars you can fit up your asshole?”
Here’s a story about two comedians who tried to build their own border wall – around Trump Tower.