01 Dec 2003 Ghettopoly Should Force Us to Look in the Mirror, by Geoffrey Moore
“Ghettopoly,” a parody board game, recently made big news and drew a lot of protestors. But the protesters were selective in their anger.
Based on the popular board game “Monopoly,” “Ghettopoly” claims to satirize ghetto “culture” and gangsta-rap stereotypes. Properties players can buy include “Tyron’s Gun Shop” and “Smitty’s XXX Peep Show,” while game pieces include a crack rock, pimp, prostitute and an Uzi machine gun. “Hustle” and “Ghetto Stash” replace “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards. The game’s objective is to get the most money through stealing and cheating.
“Ghettopoly” is sold on the Internet and, until the controversy erupted, was available at Urban Outfitters clothing stores.
Protests began in black churches in cities such as St. Petersburg, Chicago and Philadelphia. Reverend Glenn Wilson of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia told the Associated Press: “There’s no way that game could be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent in marketing it.”
The game’s creator, David Chang, claims the game is not racist. He instead describes it as edgy.
Chang, who was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States at the age of eight, has never experienced ghetto life himself. Guess where he says he got the idea and material to make the game? Watching rap videos on MTV, of course. Future plans include a companion game called “Redneckopoly.”
Why all the protests and pickets? Maybe it is because someone who isn’t black is selling this game? All one has to do is turn on the television to MTV, BET or listen to radio targeted at young blacks. Or go buy some of rapper Nelly’ “Pimp Juice” drink or the “Pimps Up, Hos Down” DVD (called “gleefully trashy” by Vibe magazine) at Best Buy. The same message comes across, but without much of the satire.
While I do not like nor intend to ever buy this game, the ire of the protestors is badly misplaced. The game is merely reflective of deviant cultural practices being accepted in black communities. If these protestors really want to address the stereotypes in this game, address the behavior from which the stereotypes result!
If people wish to continue their protest of “Ghettopoly,” I fully expect them to line up outside the offices of Viacom (which owns MTV and BET), Vivendi Universal, Arista and other sellers of offensive material. While Chang and Urban Outfitters were the focus of the protests, others who reach a lot more people are getting a free pass.
To their credit, Hasbro, which owns the rights to “Monopoly,” has sought a cease and desist order against Chang. He doesn’t take it seriously, however, since he says there are other “Monopoly”-type games out there.
Perhaps Chang offers more expert insight into stealing than he realizes.