Earlier this year, Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin told Vox in an interview that the team behind the wryly sarcastic “party game for terrible people” is happiest with their comedy when it’s rooted in something real.
That might explain the company’s latest holiday stunt, which it announced this week with the debut of a satirical video narrated by longtime Ken Burns documentary narrator Peter Coyote: a special quest to “save” America by hindering any efforts to build a giant wall on the US-Mexico border.
Via a new website that promises to “Save America,” the CAH team explains, “We’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the [US–Mexico] border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.”
The company is promising that customers who pay $15 for a special series of “Cards Against Humanity Saves America” holiday gifts will receive information about the border property, along with five other surprises. On Facebook and in an email to its customer mailing list, the CAH team framed the move as an act of necessary patriotism:
My fellow Americans,
Two years ago, we told you that we were never doing another complicated holiday stunt again. But after accidentally seeing CNN on a TV at the airport, we realized our country needed us.
It’s time to suit up for one last mission. Cards Against Humanity is going to save America.
Here’s how it works: You give us $15 right now, and you’ll get six America-saving surprises in the mail during the holidays.
Slots are limited, so if you want to stop Trump’s border wall and save America, smash that button.
I love you,
Cards Against Humanity
P.S. In previous years, holiday surprises have included a private island, a castle in Ireland, and over two million dollars raised for charity. This year we’re pulling out all the stops. Folks, we may not make it back from this one.
CAH has become known for its outlandish stunts, which in the past have included a Black Friday tradition of asking people to pay the company money for nothing in return, a crowdfunding campaign that raised $100,000 to dig a giant hole in the middle of nowhere, a special version of the game aimed at women (“It's exactly the same as the original ... but the box is pink and it costs $5 more”), and several complicated holiday promotions.
The team eventually declared that it would dispense with the holiday promotions, at least. But then the 2016 election happened, and after dabbling in political-themed promos throughout the run-up to the election — like funding a Super PAC and creating games to raise funds specifically for anti-Trump and pro-Clinton campaigning — the game-makers are now “back on their bullshit” with their decidedly anti-Trump “Cards Against Humanity Saves America” effort.
Plenty of previous CAH stunts have featured a skewering mix of politics, capitalism, and self-importance, even if they weren’t this pointed. However, the company now appears to be turning toward direct, real-world political activism, executed via its satirical brand of meta-humor.
“I’m very skeptical at the moment of any sort of clever political solution — the idea that there’s any sort of opposition or protest that can be accomplished in a comfortable way,” CAH co-creator Temkin told Vox in February. “What I see getting results are back-to-basics material engagement with politics, like showing up at a Congress member’s office, calling, going to a protest. I think that’s more valuable than all of our clever liberal comedy right now.”
With this latest stunt, the company that earlier this year built a Super-Bowl ad around a potato is on track to put Temkin’s principles of direct action into, well, action. Far from its previous anti-capitalist marketing gimmicks, “Cards Against Humanity Saves America” is a real-world salvo against the current administration.
And the company isn’t mincing words. “It’s 2017, and the government is being run by a toilet,” asserts the “Cards Against Humanity Saves America” website, as potential customers are advised, “if you voted for Trump, you might want to sit this [promotion] out.”
Meanwhile, a special FAQ anticipates controversy and makes the company’s stance on the matter crystal clear:
YOU SAID YOU WEREN’T GOING TO DO ONE OF THESE COMPLICATED HOLIDAY PROMOTIONS AGAIN.
We’re liars, just like the president.
I DON’T LIKE THAT YOU’RE GETTING POLITICAL. WHY DON’T YOU JUST STICK TO CARD GAMES?
Why don’t you stick to seeing how many Hot Wheels cars you can fit up your asshole?
Of course, overcoming the US’s tricky eminent domain laws won’t be easy, no matter how many lawyers CAH has on hand. But the company has one asset on its side that may be worth the threat of a messy legal battle — a riled-up fan base that has, in the past, proven eager to pay it money for literally nothing — and perhaps that’s the real point. By appealing to those fans and egging them on toward direct resistance and action against Trump, Cards Against Humanity is entering new territory by attempting to use its famously irreverent comedy to bring about real change.