What Does Reality Have to Do with It?

After 30 years as a reality show star, Rafael decided he wanted to do something real. Something important. He examined his considerable bank account and decided to run for congress.

So just as he’d done when he picked his next reality show, he started to research. After studying the various political consultants he found there was one, known just as Kev, who had a 100% win record. His real name, so far as anyone could tell, was Kevin Smith, but nobody called him that any more. He had his name trademarked. His prices were several times what anyone else’s were, but with his record, he could charge them and afford to be selective.

This is a work of fiction. All places, persons, and events are the products of the author’s imagination.
Copyright © 2012 Henry E. Neufeld

Now Rafael thought of himself as a pretty special person, much superior to the blips. “Blip” was the slang term for someone who spent their entire life on Basic Living Payments. With the advance of automation very few people were actually required to work. Basic Living Payments were quite adequate to live a reasonable lifestyle. The only problem was that one felt rather useless, provided one bothered with such feelings. And there was plenty of entertainment to keep one’s mind occupied.

Entertainment. That was the key. Entertainers still had jobs. One could, of course, fake it. Animated movies were barely distinguishable from ones done with live actors (if that). At the same time, however, there had been a revival of plays. Well, that, and reality shows. Shows that were certified to place real humans at real risk. Not massive risk, but real. And Rafael had been a reality show great.

But now he wanted to do something important, so he sent off a message to Kev. (Nobody bothered with the “e” in e-mail any more. There was no snailmail.) He thought it was likely that Kev would ignore him. After all, he had no political experience at all.

But Kev responded almost immediately. He asked for a face to face chat. Now this no longer meant that they would get together, but rather than they would communicate electronically in real-time complete with 3D video.

Kev looked at Rafael for a few moments after they connected. “I already checked, and you can afford my services. The question is, do you want to work for me?”

“I thought you would be deciding whether you wanted to work with me,” said Rafael. “After all, I’m a political novice. I might not be winning material.”

“I already know you’re potentially winning material. You can afford my price. But can you work with me?”

“I work well with others and under direction.”

“Let’s see then. We need a “look” for you,” said Kev. He produced an image on the screen. It fit with Rafael’s body type and general size, but it was both more heroic in expression and yet more common in general appearance.

“I see what some of that fee goes for. Plastic surgery.” Rafael looked doubtful.

“Now we need a history.” Kev started to outline some points. It left Rafael with time for the reality shows he’d starred in, and it appeared Kev knew precisely when he’d been recording the shows and accounted for the time correctly. At other times, according to this time, he’d been involved in other sports and some intellectual activities, most of which he couldn’t really identify.

“But what’s wrong with my own history?” asked Rafael.

“Your history is very good. But it doesn’t guarantee a win. It only makes it probable. I guarantee a win.”

“What about policies and positions?”

“We’ll determine those from the polling.”

“So what you mean by ‘working with you’ is that I accept plastic surgery, have my life story written, and let you pick my positions.”

“I didn’t say anything about plastic surgery.”

“But I don’t look like the picture you showed me.”

“You won’t be appearing in public.”

“Don’t I have to meet voters?”

“I’ll have actors to do that.”

“If I had done all the things your bio says I did, I’d be broke and wouldn’t be able to pay your fee!”

“Nobody has to know that. Besides, isn’t the point of most of those things to have done them? Well, you’re just buying the ‘have done’ cheap.”

“So none of it will be real.”

“You’ll be a congressman. That will be real. Well, more or less.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’ll have actors to take care of actually appearing in Congress.”

“But they’d have to vote the way I say, right?”

“Well, actually we’ll use the polling data for that. We have to be prepared to get you reelected!”

“So none of it will be real. None of it.” Rafael sounded discouraged.

“Actually, what does reality have to do with it?” asked Kev, sounding a bit puzzled.