Unrelated to Madonna! But I was doing work for finals and weirdly remembered this board game my family use to play called “Don’t Wake Daddy.” It was a semi-popular board game in the 90s. I don’t know why the memory of this game resurfaced but either way ever since I’ve been thinking about it. If anyone doesn’t know, “Don’t Wake Daddy,” it’s a pretty standard board game except for it’s premise. The game is takes place in house in the middle of night. And you, as one of the player, would be one of children living in the house, and the object of the game is to get to the kitchen to get some food without waking up your father….. Just writing that felt weird.
What it looked like:
And here’s the game’s description listed on Amazon:
“Shhh! If you can sneak past sleeping Daddy without waking him, you can have that midnight snack you're craving. But it's going to be tough--there are roadblocks everywhere. Don't step on the cat's tail! And watch out for those roller blades that didn't get put away! The first person to slip around all these obstreperous obstacles to get to the fridge wins. Players spin a spinner to determine what color space they'll move to. If the player's card doesn't match the picture on the space, Daddy's alarm clock button must be pushed the number of times indicated. Just hope that Daddy will sleep through the alarm. If not, he'll pop up and make his nightcap fly off!"
And that it. That's whole description. What will happen after Daddy's nightcap flies off, no one will ever know.
It’s kind of implied in the description but the game plays with the power of the father figure in the home. It reinforces masculinity as the center of power in the home. It’s the thing that controls but also creates fear. A “Don’t Wake Mommy” board game doesn’t exist. Why? I could name a few reasons but I think overall I think it's because culturally concepts like fear and power in the family unit have been associated with masculinity and fatherhood. There's something about the game that plays with our anxieties about masculinity. It's threatening, it's on the edge of something dangerous. But at the same time, it's where all the authority and power lives in the game. Daddy makes the rules. Daddy needs to sleep. Daddy told us we can't have a midnight snack. (Writing Daddy that much disturbed me) The tension of the game lives in that you can't wake up your father or your father will be upset with you. It sends very weird and uncomfortable messages that obviously have messed me up in some way or I wouldn't remember this board game while eating cheese in the middle of the night and trying to write a screenplay.
Here's the Original Commercial from 1992: