We’re All Really Excited About Johnny

31 07 2009


The dangers of virtualization. Wrote this real quick on a plane to SFO. It’s short, thankfully.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License
© skrblr 2009

John Halford, actor, was at his stroppy best when his agent, Mitch, called him and proposed that he level up from video to full-body sensoria productions, where audiences could plug right into the actors perceptions.
“No. There’s no way I’m trying that sensoria crap, Mitch, no frigging way.”
Mitch shook his head and rolled his eyes as he paced his office, cellphone glued to his ear. Halford was getting on and new guys were coming up all the time. Halford had been the best, and the studio wanted Mitch to inject Halford’s career with a little extra longevity.  Time to apply the opportunity line.
“Johnny, Johnny, this is the new wave of entertainments, if you can get in on the ground floor you can go way beyond what you’ve done already, you’ll be a true mega-star! Just think of it. You can be in the minds of your people, really, truly in there, not just an image on the screen or in the projection tank. Everything that is John Halford will be with them. Think of the opportunity!”
“That’s bullshit, Mitch, I’m not buying it. You wrap me up in gear that makes like some kind of freaking brainstem milking machine and expect me to act? To play a role when the audience can know everything that’s happening to my emotions, to my body? Where is the room for acting, Mitch? If I fart or pitch a tent with that thing on everyone will know. And I’ll know that they know.”
Mitch smiled to himself. Good old predictable Johnny. The hook was there, now all that remained was to set it. Flattery and assurances was what worked for Johnny Halford. Some of others would need a new speedboat or girlfriend, but all Johnny needed was smooth words to stroke his ego.
“Johnny, you are a total pro, and we know that just plain unfiltered you would be the most that anyone could hope for, but this is just like the movies, Johnny. We got editors, post-production, all the usual polish and fill jobs that you know from video. We can filter out all those little physical sensations that might be affecting you during the shoot, and we can tone up or tone down the emo stuff. So what we are talking about is an enhanced you, the perfect John Halford, forever. All I’m asking, Johnny, is have a little think about it. Why not take a coupla weeks at the resort, have some crab, a margarita or two, and mull it over, then give me a call. What do you say?”
There was a silence on the other end of the line and Mitch knew he’d hit the right buttons.
“Alright, Mitch. I’ll agree to do that for now.”
Ten days later in a plush private clinic in Nevada, Mitch looked on as a dozen masked people in scrubs busied themselves around Halford’s recumbent form, sinking hair-fine palladium wires into the tracks of his nerves. A skullframe was already in place, a glittering halo of wires that travelled into the crannies of his grey matter to read his experiences of reality. Halford’s body was preternaturally still, resting in an induced coma. Mitch moved over to the surgeon in charge.
“So, we ready to go?”
“We’ll be ready in about 30 seconds. Once we run through some basic I/O tests we can boot him fully into the sensorium shell. He’ll be back in the resort.”
“Ok, I speak to him first, right? He’s going to want a familiar voice. What’s it going to be like for him?”
The masked and robed figure shrugged.
“Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
The surgeon turned and flicked over a switch on a wide console. A red ON AIR sign lit up over the door to the surgery. Mitch raised his chin and pitched his voice to carry over the humming of machines in the suite.
“Hey, Johnny, how are you feeling, buddy?”
The white noise hiss from the big speakers over the surgeon’s console dissipated, and a familiar voice came through.
“Hey, Mitch, I feel great. Are we done already? I didn’t feel a freakin’ thing – I don’t even remember you dropping me back to the resort, it’s like I was asleep until you called me.”
“Yeah, we’re all done Johnny, it went totally smoothly and you slept like a baby through it all. Listen – I’m gonna have one of the guys from the studio drop you down some scripts, it would be cool if you could give ’em the old once over and let me know how you get on. Just give me a call when you’re ready to talk.”
“Sure thing, Mitch. Tell him to drop them out to me at the pool. I’m totally looking forward to trying this thing out. I’m glad you gave me the push, Mitch, I’m pretty stoked about the possibilities of this new form.”
Mitch mimed a throat-cutting maneouver at the surgeon, and the green-suited figure pulled the switch back. The speakers went silent and the ON AIR light went black. Mitch leaned over and shook the surgeon’s gloved hand.
“Awesome work, doc. I’ll call the studio and get them to link up with the storage – I assume you guys will deal with the body. It’s been a blast – we’re all really excited about Johnny.”

John Halford, actor, was at his stroppy best when his agent, Mitch, called him and proposed that he level up from video to full-body sensoria productions, where audiences could plug right into the actors perceptions.

“No. There’s no way I’m trying that sensoria crap, Mitch, no frigging way.”

Mitch shook his head and rolled his eyes as he paced his office, cellphone glued to his ear. Halford was getting on and new guys were coming up all the time. Halford had been the best, and the studio wanted Mitch to inject Halford’s career with a little extra longevity.  Time to apply the opportunity line.

“Johnny, Johnny, this is the new wave of entertainments, if you can get in on the ground floor you can go way beyond what you’ve done already, you’ll be a true mega-star! Just think of it. You can be in the minds of your people, really, truly in there, not just an image on the screen or in the projection tank. Everything that is John Halford will be with them. Think of the opportunity!”

“That’s bullshit, Mitch, I’m not buying it. You wrap me up in gear that makes like some kind of freaking brainstem milking machine and expect me to act? To play a role when the audience can know everything that’s happening to my emotions, to my body? Where is the room for acting, Mitch? If I fart or pitch a tent with that thing on everyone will know. And I’ll know that they know.”

Mitch smiled to himself. Good old predictable Johnny. The hook was there, now all that remained was to set it. Flattery and assurances was what worked for Johnny Halford. Some of others would need a new speedboat or girlfriend, but all Johnny needed was smooth words to stroke his ego.

“Johnny, you are a total pro, and we know that just plain unfiltered you would be the most that anyone could hope for, but this is just like the movies, Johnny. We got editors, post-production, all the usual polish and fill jobs that you know from video. We can filter out all those little physical sensations that might be affecting you during the shoot, and we can tone up or tone down the emo stuff. So what we are talking about is an enhanced you, the perfect John Halford, forever. All I’m asking, Johnny, is have a little think about it. Why not take a coupla weeks at the resort, have some crab, a margarita or two, and mull it over, then give me a call. What do you say?”

There was a silence on the other end of the line and Mitch knew he’d hit the right buttons.

“Alright, Mitch. I’ll agree to do that for now.”

Ten days later in a plush private clinic in Nevada, Mitch looked on as a dozen masked people in scrubs busied themselves around Halford’s recumbent form, sinking hair-fine palladium wires into the tracks of his nerves. A skullframe was already in place, a glittering halo of wires that travelled into the crannies of his grey matter to read his experiences of reality. Halford’s body was preternaturally still, resting in an induced coma. Mitch moved over to the surgeon in charge.

“So, we ready to go?”

“We’ll be ready in about 30 seconds. Once we run through some basic I/O tests we can boot him fully into the sensorium shell. He’ll be back in the resort.”

“Ok, I speak to him first, right? He’s going to want a familiar voice. What’s it going to be like for him?”

The masked and robed figure shrugged.

“Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

The surgeon turned and flicked over a switch on a wide console. A red ON AIR sign lit up over the door to the surgery. Mitch raised his chin and pitched his voice to carry over the humming of machines in the suite.

“Hey, Johnny, how are you feeling, buddy?”

The white noise hiss from the big speakers over the surgeon’s console dissipated, and a familiar voice came through.

“Hey, Mitch, I feel great. Are we done already? I didn’t feel a freakin’ thing – I don’t even remember you dropping me back to the resort, it’s like I was asleep until you called me.”

“Yeah, we’re all done Johnny, it went totally smoothly and you slept like a baby through it all. Listen – I’m gonna have one of the guys from the studio drop you down some scripts, it would be cool if you could give ’em the old once over and let me know how you get on. Just give me a call when you’re ready to talk.”

“Sure thing, Mitch. Tell him to drop them out to me at the pool. I’m totally looking forward to trying this thing out. I’m glad you gave me the push, Mitch, I’m pretty stoked about the possibilities of this new form.”

Mitch mimed a throat-cutting maneouver at the surgeon, and the green-suited figure pulled the switch back. The speakers went silent and the ON AIR light went black. Mitch leaned over and shook the surgeon’s gloved hand.

“Awesome work, doc. I’ll call the studio and get them to link up with the storage – I assume you guys will deal with the body. It’s been a blast – we’re all really excited about Johnny.”

Advertisements

Actions

Information

5 responses

31 07 2009
Laura Eno

The horrors of it all…wait, maybe they’ve already done that to us! Great story!

1 08 2009
Chris Chartrand

Very Matrix. Real cool read.

1 08 2009
J. M. Strother

You do some incredible concepts and do them very well. Very eerie. Very effective. Nicely done.
~jon

1 08 2009
KjM

Oh dear me. Well, seems Johnny won’t have to worry so much about the physical aspects after all.

Is it real or is it memorex? Nice work on this.

1 08 2009
Anasazi Stories

Ha! They downloaded the guy. Now they’ll have free, open-source Johnny. Good idea and good execution of the idea. Thanks for sharing.

–Jeff Posey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: