“Look in the mirror long enough and monsters will come out of it,” says an old wives’ tale.
Toymaker Hasbro has put up a mirror to all of society and we do not look pretty. The mirror is called Monopoly
Monopoly was created in early 20th century at the end of the Gilded Age of robber barons, expressing social anxiety over the monopolisation of land and capital. Since then, Monopoly has continually updated itself to reflect changes in society.
Recent editions such as Stranger Things and Rick and Morty reflect pop culture. In Monopoly Voice, a voice-controlled banker does all the difficult maths for you, reflecting the inadequacies of modern education.
Monopoly Socialism is the most realistic version of the game, bankrupting businesses immediately. Caught using a plastic straw? Pay the tax. Tofu-chip cookies made in honour of Karl Marx’s birthday – yum. Shame – that too is taxed.
Monopoly for Millennials tells you to “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.” Players no longer buy property but roam the board visiting vegetarian bistros and farmer’s markets to earn “likes” on social media. The game that represented players as emojis and hashtags inevitably resulted in millennials complaining online.
If Millennials Monopoly reflects a reactionary unease with modernity, Friends Monopoly takes it all the way from Old Kent Road to Mayfair. Friends was released 25 years ago chock-a-block with gay jokes, fat shaming Monica and no noticeable minority characters. For a series that would not have survived today’s cancel culture, its fandom is still strong enough to get a board game.
With its latest board game, Ms. Monopoly, Hasbro follows men’s awkward, heavy handed repentance for our privilege. To fight the gender pay gap, female players start off with more money and collect a bonus 20% for passing go.
“The first game where women make more than men.” With this tagline, Monopoly seems to have gone too far, leaving women patronised rather than empowered.
Perhaps Ms. Monopoly’s message is that women are not capable of competing with men’s monopoly on wages. At least that’s what the seven men out of eight executive managers at Hasbro seem to believe in selling out progressive values.
Looking into the Ms. Monopoly mirror, we see the ugly face of society.
To update Oscar Wilde, “life imitates Monopoly.” We can only hope he was wrong.