The chronological displacement field (CDF) has undoubtedly been one of the most novel discoveries of the 21st Century. When the two physicists, Timea Kolchik and Robert Dupast stumbled across the ability to use wormholes to remotely view past events it changed our understanding of human history almost overnight. Religion and science were dealt some crushing blows, as investigations into their claims began to overturn much unexpected evidence against them. As we came to know the historical figures and our ancestors and how their lives differed from our accounts we began to see the absurdities of our own mythologies. The CDF was so informative that humanity was transformed in ways that prevented its impending doom. Through such deep introspection of the past, we were able to see ourselves more clearly and we responded by changing our deleterious course. And yet for all that humanity gained we are still human beings and it was not long before this new technology began to be perverted in a most undignified way.
Historical Reality Television has inarguably been the most monumental entertainment trend for the last few years. While scientists, theologians, historians and anthropologists had already made most well know historical accounts available for public viewing, there exists an almost infinite amount of potential entertainment content in humanities past. Especially in the recent past. In the century before our transformation, humanity had become increasingly volatile. And in retrospect the results were often hilarious.
Human economies have shifted largely into a loose system of commerce centered mostly around the sharing of information. Information is discovered, created and consumed in lieu of most physical and service labor from the past as a result of automation and energy to matter converters. Where before mankind had toiled with time and energy over resources and more energy, man now subsists from the eventual benefits of industrialism and bases his worth on his reputation by means of his ability to add to the information market. When CDF technology became available to every gal and guy, many of them used it as a data mining device, combing the lives of human beings past in order to glean from them moments which could be edited into an entertaining package. Suddenly, every human being who had ever lived might possibly become the subject of a historical reality television show.
The first popular video series depicting actual historical people in a humorous entertainment context was ‘Kick Boxing with Chet and Linda’. Chet and Linda were a married couple who lived in the mid nineteen nineties amidst a Midwestern US meth craze. In the introduction to the series we see a young Chet and Linda full of love and life and dreams. But as the opening sequence moves along we see a series of unfortunate luck and poor decisions transform Chet and Linda from young lovers to maniacal middle aged meth addicts with a propensity for colorful tirades and (sometimes extreme) violence against one another. In this way, from the most poignant moments of their existence, we have become voyeurs into the tragic comedy that Chet and Linda never meant to become in their sad lives. This is a scene from the fourth episode.
Chet- “Bitch, you better leave me that last line or I am gonna shove my foot up your rotten cunt and walk you around like a god damned snowshoe.” [Chet jumps across the room in a flying kick maneuver and yells] “KI-YAH!”
Linda- “Well shit, Chet, that shoe would be the hardest thing you tried to put in my pussy for five years.” [Linda let’s out a bloodcurdling scream and throws an ashtray at Chet. In his moment of confusion she bends over and snorts the last line of meth.] “What you gonna do, shoelace dick?”
Chet- [After rubbing his shoulder where the ashtray struck, he lunges over the table at Linda in another flying kick maneuver.] “That’s it whoremouth, time to teach you some respect!” [But before he can land the kick, Linda moves to the side and grabs a beer bottle from the table. As she raises it overhead he lets out one last threat.] “You better knock me the fuck out with that bottle or I am gonna fuck you in the ass with it, you trechr’us skank!” [The bottle lands squarely against the side of his head and despite all the meth already in his system, he is knocked the fuck out.]
Linda- (to no one) “Fuck, now I’m horny.”
This was the most popular video in the world last year. It has been viewed by over 4 billion people. It won numerous awards for the greatest video series in several categories ranging from historical reality to humor. Last fall Chet and Linda were the most popular Halloween costume design available on-line. Chet and Linda have become icons of our time. Their entire existence reduced to technological schadenfreuade. Yet in their own lives they were subjects of poverty, addiction, violence and other maladies that humanity has mostly treated. Yet still, having evolved beyond those horrors, we still take pleasure in the suffering they inflicted and endured.
Let us look at another popular video series in the genre of historical reality television. The series ‘Uh, Oh!’ follows some of the most horrific crimes of the last century. In the series we are shown a person stalking another person about to commit an atrocious act. During this footage a narrator tells us about the people involved and suggests some details about what is about to happen. And just as the perpetrator lunges at their victim the video cuts to scenes from the criminals past. The scenes are comic, like a blooper reel, depicting the attacker as an impossible oaf. And while this is happening the narrator gives a chilling account of what happened to the victim(s). Every episode ends with a little musical number with lyrics containing a number of tasteless puns depicting the events of the episode in any number of musical styles.
Probably the most undignified show is the niche-popular ‘Homelessexuals’ which depicts the romantic and sexual escapades of men and women who suffered through the most extreme forms of poverty before it was eradicated. Because those men and women often also suffered from mental illness, addictions, tendencies towards social deviancies or just plain bizarre social skills; the content of their sex lives was often even more revealing and awkward than healthy adjusted folks whose sex lives are riddled with all sorts of strangeness and faux paus. A memorable scene from the series shows two rather large and hairy men huddled in a tent just prior to coitus.
Man 1- “Alrighty, heads I go first, tails its my tail.” [Man flips coin into the air. It lands in his palm and he flips it over onto the top of his other hand. Both men look excited and nervous and intoxicated.]
Man 2- “Okay already, what is it?” [He pulls the other mans hand up, revealing the coin. It is heads.] “Oh Jesus Christ, I shoulda never taken that halfa pill ya gave me.”
Man 1- “Hey, I didn’t know it were a Viagra.”
There is no doubt that these shows are funny. Often even hilarious. I have watched them myself and was not immune to great bouts of laughter. What our species endured before our transformation was awful. Several forces aligned against the individual to create billions of unique manias. While I understand that it is the nature of humor to explore the incongruency between our values/expectations and phenomena outside of them, I worry more that what we have done is exploitative. The lives of those who suffered to carry us towards the more hopeful era we now live in were often comic in their tragedy, but to entertain ourselves at their expense WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION is such an obviously immoral trespass that it betrays how much work humanity still has to do. We have dissolved non-consensual surveillance in our time and worked as brothers and sisters to balance our privacy with the necessary visibility of the information age. We have failed to give our ancestors the same ethical consideration that we now consider the inherent right of every living being.
This is why I call on you to help me end the exploitation of CDF technologies to invade the privacy of those who came before us for undignified entertainment value. While this technology has been fundamental in our progress towards a harmonious and sustainable existence, it also invites some very ethical trespass against real human beings, even if they are long dead. We must start by boycotting any such works and by down-voting them so as to discourage their creators from that content. Together, we must intellectually explore and create an ethical framework by which this technology can be employed productively without being used as a weapon of moral destruction for our entertainment. I call on all who hear this to come together and use peaceful market forces to discourage the continued production and consumption of Historical Reality Television or any other dubious usage of the Chronological Displacement Field.
Maxr Toobin, People Against the Exploitation of Historical Peoples, May 2042