The second installment of Thrifty Vinyl’s exciting science fiction pastiche. The first part exists here.
“Welcome to Who Wants To Be a Face?” grandly announced host Mark Wintondale. A smile seemed permanently plastered on his face; under the circumstances, this was far from inaccurate. As always, the theme tune, a piece of appropriate classical music called “I’m the Face” by the High Numbers boomed punishingly in the vast VisualStream studios.
“So, who wants to be a face?” he asked rhetorically, eyebrows raised in expectation.
“We do!” replied the audience, on cue and positively Pavlovian. This was followed by a 10-second, high-pitched “Eeeee!” ululation from the crowd, being a dolphin catchphrase which loosely translates as, “We’d do anything, suffer any humiliation, in order to be famous.”
It had been almost a half century since the show had been conceived to ensure that the New United States of America a) had enough celebrities to grease wheels both financial and governmental and b) that the famous were able to survive long enough to help implement cultural policy.
Of course, people were so programmed to be manipulated through constant exposure to mass media that Who Wants To Be a Face? had easily succeeded on both accounts, indeed, far beyond even the highest hopes of the show’s creator, former Midwest United States Vice-President Tace Greenaway. Greenaway’s plan was as bold as it was far-reaching. First of all, expectations of “normal” human physiognomy were changed over a few generations so that, eventually, apart from eye-colour, any distinguishing facial characteristics were obliterated with post-natal plastic surgery developed by Dermerase™ Corp, leaving only featureless orifices for the requisite breathing, eating, hearing and seeing. At age 16, people were given the opportunity, through a game show, to have a classically beautiful face re-constructed along the lines of the golden ratio; the face was removable and behaved like a mask, allowing wearers to slip safely back into anonymity when not at “work”. Of course, only the smart, biddable contestants with appropriate bone structure made the first cut. A fantastic degree of shamelessness was also required, this was the second and final cut.
And so, Who Wants To Be a Face? sifted a steady stream of supremely craven, desperate humans in possession of high cheekbones from the merely run-of-the-mill craven and desperate in possession of high cheekbones through a series of acts in self-abasement that would make Caligula and Chuck Berry’s love child blush.
Like most of my peers, I wanted to be a “Face” more than anything in the world.