Tuesday, May 27, 2003

dumbing down
It is easy to laugh at the billion-dollar Wargames set in Qatar, the Bush-on-blue-backgrounds-with-repeating-monosyllables-strategy and the administration's other juvenile media strategies. Of course, the fact is that they work, and not only because we the public are dumb -- the media was obviously psyched to hang out in a fake desert NORAD that looked like something important was happening.

I think there is something more than this to the playing cards though, and, judging by the 1500 more-or-less fake versions for sale on eBay, I'm not alone. Of course, cards are cheap, and give off that whiff of mass-produced uniqueness, like Princess Di wedding matchbooks or a Franklin Mint commemorative, which lets those of us who weren't, in fact, "there" to feel that we were. The many competing decks out there, from the original to this somewhat arbitrary french version [via Rittenhouse], show that the concept itself is universally appealing -- and not merely stupid. There is something poignant about the popularity of the originals, though, as if people are thinking, "won't it be fun in 10 years to win 50 bucks on a "Chemical Ali"-high straight and laugh about how scary those orange alerts were?" Of course, the fact that we are increasingly unlikely to be laughing about anything a decade hence makes it even more poignant.

I think I won't buy a deck from eBay after all. But if anyone can get me some fake Made in USA boxes, let me know.

update [5/29]: great "inside info" from antic muse; and even the WTO gets in on the act [via skimble].
[5/30]: Ruckus gets in on it.

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