Friday, October 9, 2009

Daily Story 177: The Young Man With the Idea

"I don't like the sound of this," Ted Filler said, turning off the viewscreen. "It feels wrong."
The other executives shifted uneasily, leather chairs making awkward farting noises. There was an unspoken rule about bringing up morals or ethics on company time - as far as the corporation was concerned so long as it was legal and profitable it was good. Even the 'legal' part had some wiggle room. Ted saw that he had misspoke and quickly reassured the rest of the board. "I'm not making a moral judgment, of course." Everyone exhaled.

"I'm assuming we could get past the obvious legal issues... but the whole idea, though... it has a sort of immoral connotation. My concern is for our clients - if we scare away viewers the advertisers will pull out too." Jowls bobbed and jiggled as everyone murmured in agreement. As a single group they turned to look past the polished conference table at the young man who had proposed the idea in the first place. He didn't seem upset by their concerns at all. He was smiling ear to ear.
"Gentlemen," he said quietly, "Let me assure you that I thought of this reaction myself and would not have brought this to you without addressing it."

"We've done research over the years, trying to figure out exactly what it is the common man wants to watch. Professional wrestling led to reality shows, reality shows led to voyeur shows. But what comes next? When you've already made use of security cameras to turn people into the subjects of television episodes without their knowledge, where do you go? This is the answer. This is the next step. This is what people have been craving all these years. The subjects are unaware that they're on a show, just like with voyeur shows, but we get the recurring cast that people can get to know. There will be violence, there will be sex, there will be everything. People want this so much that they'll only stop watching if a perceived authority figure tells them not to.

"So now, your concern. As you guessed, Ted, I've already established that I can avoid the legal issues. It's not technically slavery, and we won't be liable if they kill each other. So that's step one, keep the government off our backs - not that we've ever had trouble with that. The moral question is where the beauty of this whole scheme comes in... we use genetically modified humans. Not anything extreme - we make them attractive, healthy, and maybe a bit emotional. All major religious leaders, from fundamentalist televangelists to the Pope, have declared that genetically engineered humans aren't humans at all. No soul. That means that unless they're willing to come to the defense of engineered humans and declare that they have rights like we do... they won't be able to say a word."

There was a moment of silence as the board members let this sink in. They started chiming in with ideas (since they're not human, we can get away with showing sex, right? Nature channels do it all the time!) and it was clear they had bought in. Ted called the meeting to a close and suggested they reconvene to talk about re-arranging the production schedules later. He knew this was bulletproof... if even the religious leaders weren't going to speak out against it it had to be moral... All the same, he had some sort of uneasy feeling; a lead weight in his stomach that seemed to pull at him. He took a deep breath and ignored it - this was about profit only, and his duty was to the corporation. On his way out of the room Ted shook the young man's hand, catching only the briefest whiff of sulfur.