The Cat Will Mew: Monopoly and the Loss of the Iron

It took a Monopoly-related announcement to get me out of my blogging hibernation.

The bulk of the article is focused on the fact that the new Monopoly piece will be a cat, based on a popular vote. It is mentioned, secondly that the feline will be replacing the iron as your capitalist token of success or failure in the game.

The first iron was patented by Henry Seeley on June 6, 1882. It weighed 15 pounds and the slow process of moving metal across fabric revolutionized (I would argue) gender stereotypes in the U.S., guided directions of western fashion,  and ushered in the worst design for ironing boards that would follow. Entire wars were fought and scientific discoveries hinged on the element its name derives from. Think about how important this iconic design and the lessons of industry and society are for the young people that scorch the streets of Baltic Avenue in their circular pilgrimage to the Boardwalk.

And to be replaced by a cat.

A cat?

A cat!

What are cats good for? Nothing. Cats are good for the internets. That’s it.

In all seriousness, this article in Slate illustrates my real concerns about the loss of the iron. The history of U.S. labor (on the same day that the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to discontinue Saturday delivery – some speculate to continue nationwide union busting) is being lost on the post-industrial generation that will grow up with credit card tracking, unhackable, cat-filled games.

Sure, the people voted, but the people are wrong. Yes, I’m an advocate for democratic action … BUT (and it’s a big but), look at the context. Is Monopoly at all about fairness, equal footing, or direct democracy? NO! It’s about chances and bankrupting your grandma to the Stone Age and going directly to jail without passing go.

Pedagogically, Monopoly is an important tool for demonstrating socioeconomic practices. In reading “the world” of Monopoly, the ways it limits reflections of actual society are important within classrooms. It is was a relic of problematic foundations that this country is built on.

I’ve complained about Hasbro’s poor Monopoly decisions on this blog before.

As I write this, I am concurrently planning work with my colleague focused on helping Latino youth in Fort Collins help rewrite the history of Northern Colorado in an effort to recognize the continuing contributions of the migrant labor force. In doing so, we are playing with the idea that the elementary students we are working with will “remix history” to validate the past, present, and future of historically marginalized communities. We are rewriting world-based texts to change society. In similar ways, Monopoly is doing the same and the implications are insidious.

We’ve let Hasbro  ruin a Purr-fect game for meow and forever.

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