Mike Rowe: What New “Monopoly” Pieces Show About Pop Culture And Work

As TFPP covered over the weekend, future iterations of the classic board game Monopoly will replace the iconic thimble, boot, and wheelbarrow playing pieces with a T-rex, rubber ducky, and penguin, following a vote for what the new pieces should be. Now, Mike Rowe has weighed in on the news.

Responding to a fan question on Facebook, the TV personality and common sense advocate said what a lot of Americans are thinking about toy company Hasbro’s decision to “eliminate three iconic tokens of work” and replace them with “a baby’s toy, an over-dressed bird, and a dead lizard,” noting that this trend actually started in 2013 when “the noble iron was replaced by a cat.”

To be clear, I’m fine if Hasbro wants to swap out their classic tokens for rainbows and emoji’s and golden hashtags or whatever else suits them – it’s their sandbox, and every business should be free to roll out the next can of New Coke. (Now there’s a token!) But this recent change is not a reflection of what the company wants – this is a reflection of what real people actually voted for. And the people have spoken. The wheelbarrow is out. The rubber ducky is in. And the real question, John, is why are you shocked? Why is anyone?

As of today, we have 5.5 million jobs that companies can’t seem to fill. Why? Because many of those opportunities look like work. Many require the willingness to push a wheelbarrow, or don some steel-toed footwear. I don’t know about the thimble, per se, but I do believe that if society valued the people who make our clothes, the humble thimble would still be passing Go, and still collecting $200. Likewise the wheelbarrow, the iron, and the work boot. But alas – these tokens no longer represent the kind of opportunities that people desire.

Exactly. Granted, the lessons taught by the experience of playing Monopoly remain, of course, and who knows how much or how little significance the average person has ever placed in the little avatar they move around the board. Rowe went on to acknowledge that whether there’s any subjective intent behind the votes is anybody’s guess:

Of course, I could be reaching a bit. Sometimes, a thimble is just a thimble. I can’t prove the banishment of the wheelbarrow is linked to the shortage of construction workers, anymore than I can prove the sudden popularity of the rubber ducky has anything to do with the advent of safe spaces on college campuses.

Even so, one can’t help but ask how a dinosaur and an exotic bird fit in a game about economic advancement. The classic pieces represent either common household items, symbols of hard work, or trappings of financial success.

Besides, for people who want something different than the monetary theme, there are already countless variations of Monopoly themed around just about any movie, sporting event, cartoon character, superhero, or major musician you want. So what’s the point of eliminating the theme in standard-issue Monopoly?

Rowe finished by stepping up and reminding his fans that not everybody has forgotten the value of hard work by discussing the latest round of his mikeroweWORKS work ethic scholarships:

Every year, my foundation helps people get the training they need to pursue jobs that still require tools like wheelbarrows, plungers, steel-toed boots, jack-hammers, back-hoes, band saws, drill presses, and all sorts of other implements no longer suitable for a board game that – again with the irony – relies upon the construction of houses and hotels! This year, we’ve got about $500,000 up for grabs. So – whether you live on Boardwalk or Baltic – if you’d like learn a skill that’s actually in demand, then please consider yourself officially invited to apply for a work-ethic scholarship today.