The ninth hint has descended upon us like night: “Hidden behind the thrilling fun is a fowl affair. Step right up, if you dare.”
If you know your stuff, this one should be straightforward: our bets are on Monster Carnival! The island (which follows the AS3 theory) introduces you to the carnival (“thrilling fun”), with booths including a weight-guesser who implores you to “Step right up.” But as we soon learn, something’s not quite right: “hidden behind” the monstrosities is the bird-like Ringmaster Raven (“fowl affair”). 🎡🐦
But note the caption of the hint post: there’s going to be a “secret twist” with this return! And based on past fandom chatter, we have an inkling of what that could entail.
Ringmaster Raven’s portrayal has been critiqued for playing into ugly stereotypes (including anti-Semitism and slavery), and he is given disproportionately unfair treatment when he is turned into a chicken to be a laughingstock by the townsfolk (who bullied him as a child and never repented). Here’s a fan video that covers the discourse:
Back in 2020, the PHB hosted a Q&A with Poptropica’s CEO Abhi Arya, where we asked how Poptropica might address the Monster Carnival critiques. In response, he shared:
I totally get it. This is definitely one of those instances where you know the intent doesn’t align with the issue and you have to ask, “How was this affected by implicit bias?” We’re actually auditing all the islands for this reason and have already revised Monster Carnival for its conversion to Haxe. I appreciate that players bring this to our attention. It’s the only way we can all collectively move forward in the right direction.Abhi Arya, Q&A with the Poptropica CEO
It’s been a while since that Q&A and we haven’t seen Monster Carnival return to Haxe, but it looks like we’ll be seeing it soon on Steam. Perhaps this time around, we’ll be getting a new look, character arc, and/or better ending for Raven, and maybe the townsfolk as well. We’ll see! 🤞