There is a place so insular, so cut off from the rest of the world; that rarely do stories from inside its confines make it out to the more sophisticated parts of society. It’s a frightening place where freedom is an illusion, propaganda is the morning wake up call and conformity is the only means of survival. It is a place that everyone is knows about but few are brave enough to speak of. Until now. What North Korea is to freedom, Chuck E Cheese is to parents; and there are a frightening number of parallels between the two. Fortunately for you I braved the desolate landscape in order to bring back intel that, I hope, will keep you from ever having to visit the horrors of this oppressive environment yourself.
As I walked through the front door I was greeted by the smell of child urine, low grade food supplies and the overwhelming sense of dread. Crossing the threshold I witnessed the first signs of oppression; a single sign by the front door. By stepping through these doors you were entering Chuck E’s world. A place where his word is law and dissenters would be dealt with severely. And the sad truth behind most signs of this nature – if they had to put up a sign telling you not to do it, a preponderance of ass hats did the very thing the sign, and common sense, says you shouldn’t do.
there will be no rebellion here
Sadly, after a quick google search it’s fairly obvious why this type of dire warning was necessary.
With his power base secured and any chance of rebellion squashed I strode valiantly into the heart of the beast. Within seconds of entering the establishment the links to other oppressive regimes became abundantly clear.
The Iconography Oppression
Like North Korea, Venezuela and Communist China – the visage of Dear Leader is an ever present and overbearing sight. It’s not enough that the establishment bears his name and likeness, the overlord has managed to indoctrinate every square inch of his fiefdom with his face.
tiny statues of Dear Leader dot the horrizon
Even within the authorized “fun zone” – what I like to call Chuck E Cheese’ DMZ – his face stared down upon us. Have fun, it says, as long as it is fun sanctioned by the establishment and as long as that fun comes with the sacrifice of your capitalist pig dollars.
the great overseer
And, like most dictatorial regimes, Chuck is not satisfied with unmoving tributes to his greatness. Far in the back, presiding over the festivities, stands his greatest testament; a foray into the deepest caverns and crevices of the Uncanny Valley. It moves without speaking. It’s gaping maw mimicking the lowest common denominator of human life.
and the soulless beginnings of the robot uprising
Everywhere you look, there he is, ever vigilant.
For the uninitiated Chuck E Cheese is a chain pizza restaurant, nestled within the confines of most strip malls, which serves third rate pizza to a fourth rate clientele. Like most communist countries it has the capacity to house a few hundred and is, on average, packed to the god damn rafters with roughly ten times the legal limit. Everywhere you look kids are fighting over games, fighting over rides – a hundred people clamoring for the State goods that are capable of satisfying only a few. Like the bread lines of communist Russia, many queue up for their reward and few a given the chance to suck at the great party teat.
The North Korean government is willing to trade their nuclear proliferation for sustenance for their starving masses and so are the denizens of The Cheese. At the behest of their progeny group after group of dour faced adults trudge through the front door, their only solace being a cheap piece of pizza and a watered down beer. Thoughts of drowning their sorrows and the inevitability of their decisions weighing down upon them and written across their faces.
Chuck E Cheese pizza isn’t actually pizza. To call it that would be an insult to every other Americanized pizza chain. It is a gastronomical abomination that even the contestants of Fear Factor would have trouble keeping down. And I’ve seen them eat actual balls.
could be worse…but I’m not sure for whom
Also they only allow you one beer an hour. Only a delusional dictatorship, in the throes of an all-power, soul-crushing, dehumanizing perestroika orgasm would think that one beer an hour in this never ending shit hole would be acceptable. And people wonder why I carry a flask in a shoulder holster.
As a sovereign nation Chuck E’ Cheese has a lock on the rate of exchange for currency and goods within its borders like no other country. The exchange rate is fair. One dollar American buys you four “Tokens” – but these tokens may not be exchanged, directly, for goods. Oh no, Chuck demands a far more contrived economy. An economy based on a falsified sense of desire and demand.
The goods for “sale” within Chuck E Cheese, when they are not items branded with Dear Leader’s own visage, are things that could readily be found within the toy aisle of every Wal-Mart across America. These things have been, more than likely, already seen by your children and passed over as passe and irrelevant, but a funny thing happens within the walls of Chuck E Cheese: these items take on the glistening gleam of the intangible and forbidden. It is within the Economy Du Cheese that children learn their first lesson of economics: scarcity of goods equals a rise in demand for those goods. Which means your kid wants the EVERLOVINGSHIT out of a toy that they ignored yesterday.
The “Tokens” can not be spent directly, they must be risked in games of chance. These games, much like Vegas, if played correctly will illicit the true currency of the Cheese: Tickets. One American green back gets you four tokens, each game of chance only costs one token, the games of chance routinely spit out, on average, six to eight Tickets. These tickets, when accumulated like post World War One Deutsche Marks – most often in a wheel barrow – may be exchanged for any of the items on this wall.
the plastic curtain
Let’s take the item that caught my eye – the BumbleBee Transformer action figure. As a early 30′s man child I have seen this item on sale for between $12 and $15 dollars in my local Toys R Us. I’ve often thought about how neat it would be to pit BumbleBee against the plethora of other action figures that I’ve collected over the years but the price point seemed a bit ridiculous considering all I was going to do was smash it into Batman and make explosion sounds. Now let’s put that action figure price into Chuck E Cheese currency.
The action figure sells for 1500 Tickets. At 6 tickets earned per game you would have to play 250 games of chance in order to earn 1500 tickets. At 1 Token / Quarter per game the total for that $12-$15 action figure comes out to $62.50. And that’s not even the worst example. The “Ben Ten Alien Creation Challenge” retails on Amazon for $13.95 . In Chucktown it’s 3000 tickets. Unless your little crayon eater happens to be an Olympic level SkeeBall champion – that little trinket will run you $125. This is why, in Chuck E Cheese, we can’t have nice things.
The Propaganda Machine
No dictatorship or Reich is complete without its ability to disseminate its message to the waiting masses. Trapped within the four walls the Cheese regime has, at its disposal, not only a captive audience but a bank of monitors running constant Chuck E Cheese affirmations – Cheesefirmations if you will. They replay the same fifteen minutes of footage. Children dancing with Chuck. Chuck’s inner circle frolicking in an open field. Shots of cardboard pizza dolled up in post production to hide the truth that once it’s in front of you it looks and tastes like someone spread cheez-whiz over the box a better pizza came in.
Here they plant the idea: Chuck E Cheese is fun. Chuck E Cheese is friendship. The Authority is your family. OBEY THE MOUSE! They pepper the atmosphere with their message, letting it seep into the soft and malleable head of your child. They even offer a green screen booth where your kid, the mid-initiate of the Chuck E Cheese youth brigade, can superimpose themselves into the propaganda. And if the video message isn’t enough; the walls are adorned with their banners. Blank faced children awash in the delirium of The Cheese. This is what they want: your child, stupefied to obedience. Susceptible to programming and drunk on the idea of being the big winner of the Pizza Rat’s kingdom.
never has the word “Play” seemed more like a threat.
The Big Cheese Himself
No trip to an isolationist empire would be complete without the token visit from the figure head himself. Like most rulers Chuck isn’t there for your entertainment, you are there for his. You enter the facility like vagabonds at a soup kitchen. He enters to greet you like a conquering hero. A parade of associates escorts him in while his imperial march booms through the sound system. Once he danes to anoint you with his presence he stands silently while his minions force You to sing songs to Him. This is the dark hearted truth of Chuck E Cheese – both the place and the person. Chuck E Cheese is not there for you or your kids. The facade of family friendly entertainment is simply the bait to lure you in. All of it is designed to placate the ego and the wallet of one person – The Glorious Leader. Master of the shitty and out dated video games. Patron saint of pizza abominations. The Mark McGrath of the undying animatronic band. Chuck E Cheese. You are just fodder in his machine.
There is hope though. They’re very proud of the underfunded, yet burgeoning, space program.
Yes that is my son. Yes I told him we were at Disneyland. You call it lying. I call it saving several of thousands of dollars and not propping up an even greater Mouse Dictatorship
that’s over with, let’s go get shitfaced