Other side of the story
My colleague, C.L. Brenton, has written a fantastic article about the Holiday Hole, Cards Against Humanity’s latest annual satirical take on the American ethos of buying and giving.
The psyche of the American public
For the uninitiated, it’s not as if this is the first time that the CAH team has made a point of being contrarian at Black Friday time. Last year, they collected over $71,000 from their customers for literally nothing in return.
What did the CAH team do with the money then? They divvied it up amongst themselves, with some team members making donations to charity, but otherwise funding purchases for themselves ranging from a divorce to a suit of armor. This year, they’ve topped that amount, and as of the time of this writing, have crested to nearly $100,000 and climbing. In return?
A literal hole, to be sure, but a metaphorical gold mine of insight into the psyche of the human condition in America.
While the CAH team makes it clear on the Holiday Hole website that this is just a hole, with no grander aspirations, I politely disagree. And it’s this disagreement with them that’s at the core of my counterpoint to C.L’s article.
Just because one claims that something is or is not art does not make it so. Art lies in the beholder’s eye, and this growing void is certainly artistic. In some ways, the Holiday Hole is like the magician’s illusion; what’s visible (or invisible depending on your perspective) isn’t always the trick at all. An ordinary hole certainly isn’t.
We imbue it with meaning — even at its creators’ protestations not to do so — because we know that it has greater meaning than what it is.
An eloquent statement
Whereas my colleague says it’s an irresponsible gimmick riffing on American greed, I think it’s an eloquent statement.
The majority of donors have donated small amounts in the $2-$5 range (the five largest donors appear to be websites using CAH as a form of cross-promotion), making this performance art accessible in both meaning and price point for the common man.
We buy, and buy, and buy, and the hole grows larger. Isn’t it the same for us?
We routinely see news stories of assault and injury of stampeding shoppers during Black Friday, and yet we’re not phased. We continue doing what doesn’t satisfy. To paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk, we’re spending this next month buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have for people who’d rather have something different.
What are people going to remember more in fifteen years? That sweater that’s now out of fashion, worn, and too small, or the gift of your time that you gave them doing something together? When I think of loved ones, family and friends alike, that are no longer in my life, the gifts that they gave me that I remember the most intensely aren’t usually tangible ones. They’re gifts of time and love, of a word or deed administered directly at the correct time.
Buying into the statement
So if a few thousand people want to donate small amounts to make a statement on the fact that all the gifts in the world make them feel incomplete, so be it. If they want to make a statement about how this season and its wanton commercialism make them feel inauthentic or flat, let them have that opportunity.
What started as a hole for comedic relief isn’t any longer for them, even if they don’t or can’t articulate that. The Holiday Hole is their small form of therapy, administered in a collective dose.
But certainly the money collected could have been used in a better fashion, people will say. What about the environment, what about the poor, what about the sick, the needy? These are all valid questions, but miss the point entirely.
The funds CAH is collecting for this project come solely from us. Why aren’t we doing responsible things with our money to help these causes more? Remember that the majority of donations have been in small amounts. Many of us are doing things to help our community and fellow man. Is it CAH’s responsibility to not have a forum that some deem wasteful?
Your money is your responsibility
It’s a bit naïve to expect a board game maker to be the keeper of your moral compass. I’ve long posited that if every church, synagogue, mosque, social club, and civic group did daily what they profess to believe all year, we’d have no children in need of adoption, and a lot fewer hungry, homeless, and harried among us.
Our neighbor is not the responsibility of Cards Against Humanity; they’re ours.
And we shouldn’t expect any company, especially one who lives with their tongue as firmly planted in their cheek as CAH does, to do the things that are ours to do.
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December 1, 2016 at 12:03 am
You get it.
One of the more intelligent tweets responding to cricism of the whole is the growing entitlement people seem to have loudly judging the actions of others based on their own intentions.