Sometimes everyday things can suddenly be reinterpreted in entirely new ways. Take, for example, a simple paper target that I have had taped on my office door for the last two years…
Never any good at games of chance and skill, carnival games have always made me feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy volunteers to hold the football: I entertain a moment of hope, only to have the ball ripped away at the last minute. Things were different one afternoon in late August 2010.
I was on the Midway at the Minnesota State Fair with some friends when I decided to try my hand at a shooting game. The game is a common game where each player is given a limited amount of ammo and challenged to shoot out a red star printed on the target. That day I actually won, and I kept the paper target as a souvenir from the only carnival victory I have ever had.
The past few days I have been doing some cleaning and organizing in anticipation of the approaching fall semester. This morning when I went to remove the carnival target from my door, I re-read the unusually formatted text at the bottom:
All (Red) Must Be Shot From Card
To Win A Prize
As I read it, I pondered its meaning. Shoot out all the red. Shoot out the star. Win a Prize.
What is the history of this object? Why is the target a red star? Imagined for a moment that the game is a relic of the 1950’s. Is it? Could it be? I found no easy answer. On the surface it seems like a simple carnival paper target, but what if it is also a subtile or not so subtile anti-Communist commentary?