Day 177: Community Chest

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June 25, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

I have fond memories of playing Monopoly as a kid.  It’s been a long time since I’ve moved my little metal battleship past Baltic Avenue, but the hours spent hovering over colorful cards, little green and blue buildings, bartering with funny money, wheeling and dealing like a cardboard real estate mogul left an impression.  It’s hard, at first, to see the depth of such entertainment; through fun and games, there were a few lessons about what it means to win and lose – lessons that are, for better or worse, echoed (booming) outside of family game night.  Today’s project is tuning in to those echoes, following the sounds of little green dollars as they wind their way from kitchen tables to the top of our political institutions.

Pay 2 Play is a documentary about the games we play in a world where “Get Out of Jail Free” cards are harder to come by, at least for some.  John Ennis and his crew are exploring the implications a system built on putting a price tag on things like positions of power, authority and influence – what did we pay to get here, and how much will it cost us if we don’t stop?

This film takes a unique look at the problem of money in politics by following first-time candidates running for office and looking at the hurdles they face in the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money in elections.  The reach of the Pay to Play System is in everything we face today, led by groups such as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the Koch Brothers, making it increasingly hard for citizens to have a voice in our democracy.  PAY 2 PLAY shows how Americans are coming together to reclaim our country from the highest bidder.

Pennsylvania Avenue was excluded from the original board, but if Monopoly were invented today, the houses might be white and the players might be wearing suits.  The rules, though, would remain much the same, and kids everywhere would still get a primer on what it means to pay, play, wheel, deal, borrow, barter and take all to win.  Maybe the game can be rewritten, but not before we get thoroughly sick of the twisted rules of a game without a lot of winners.  Help Pay 2 Play flip through the rulebook in American politics by backing the film on Kickstarter before July 1.


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