Could someone do us a favor and go check on Hasbro, please? Ostensibly one of the most boring companies in the world—give or take a quick acquisition of the Tupac catalog here or there—the board game giant has taken a sharp, highly unsettling veer into the political of late, wandering into instances of trouble that’ve been decidedly non-pop-a-matic in nature. A few weeks ago, the internet reacted in collected befuddlement and horror to the company’s release of Monopoly: Socialism, ostensibly an attempt to use the classic “Fuck All Landlords” past-time to model the tenets of socialism for kids, but practically a mean-spirited series of lazy jokes with a decidedly pro-capitalist bent. That’s to say nothing of Monopoly For Millennials, with all the industry-ruining, avocado-toasting hackwork you could want.
No less bizarre (albeit slightly less immediately objectionable): Today’s announcement of Ms. Monopoly, a board game meant to draw attention to the obvious and actual real-world evils of the gender pay gap by positing a world where women both start with, and receive, more money than men. (Also: Aging plutocrat Mr. Monopoly has been replaced by the titular Ms. Monopoly, a “self-made investment guru” who’s also “an advocate whose mission is to invest in female entrepreneurs.”)
And while the idea of making people think about gender pay disparities in a straightforward context—like playing the world’s most boring board game together—is actually a neat one, the “How do you do, fellow kids” energy is strong with this one. Rather than buying up property, for instance, players invest in women-led innovations like “WiFi, chocolate chip cookies, and bulletproof vests,” and make their way around the board by hopping into the waiting, widely deregulated backseats of rideshare services. (And now we’re thinking about “Gig Economy Monopoly,” an idea that comes complete with the grim specter of looming death.) There are also weird little touches like the game’s Chance and Community Chest cards, which offer different cash values based on gender; women only get $50 for going to see a women-led superhero movie, for instance, while men get $100, presumably as…insurance against their impending emasculation?
Anyway, this whole thing seems designed to give someone an aneurysm, although we’ll be damned if we can figure out who. Ms. Monopoly is out in stores later this week.