“They call us dirty cause we break all your rules down And we just came to act a fool, is that all right? (Girl, that's alright) They be like, 'Ooh, let them eat cake.' But we eat wings and throw them bones on the ground --- And while you're selling dope, We're gonna keep selling hope, We rising up now, you gotta deal, you gotta cope Will you be electric sheep? Electric ladies, will you sleep? Or will you preach?” -Janelle Monáe Robinson
“Vous êtes jamais seuls Vous savez ce qu'il faut faire Ne laissez pas tomber votre nation La disco a besoin de vous Your disco, your disco, your disco needs you! Your disco, your disco, your disco needs you!” - Kylie Minogue
Weeks pass as JA-NL cocoons herself, basking in the simple splendors of the land and the love from her new community. And then, one day, she is called and she is asked to help.
Momma Ruru sits in the reading room of the library when JA-NL walks in. Bathed in morning light, Ruru sips tea from a crystal cup, her eyes scan a holoscreen of news.
“Momma Ruru, you asked to see me?” JA-NL interrupts.
The holoscreen disappears and Ruru follows her thoughts for a moment before looking at her. JA-NL feels a heavy sadness in her as she gestures for JA-NL to sit beside her.
“JA-NL, Daughter of Earth, Descendant of the Universe. We are in trouble. Humanity has forced our planet into its 6th mass extinction. By the end of this century, 50% of all plant and animal species will gone extinct. And we have caused this! With our carelessness and hunger for a luxury life. We've poisoned Earth and I fear--- I fear that these death throes will drag all humanity with it.
“I spent the morning reviewing the data. The analysis we've created shows an absurdly high probability that the rising temperatures will causes massive droughts and famines. As resources grow more scarce, I foresee riots and mass slaughters.
“Did you ever stop to notice this crying Earth? These weeping shores?” Ruru waves her hand and, from the library walls, ribbons of interwoven holograms appear. JA-NL's eyes follow each and sees violent storms tearing through towns, deserts spreading through farmlands as emaciated cattle buckle and fall into the dry earth.
“What have we done to the world?” JA-NL cries out as disbelief and despair rip through her. “Look what we've done! Is there any thing we can do?”
“Our destiny is tied directly to the fate of humans. All humans, Vessels and Boujees and all those in-between. We are of the Earth and we need it to survive. As we've shown here at Wondaland, we can create a new society built on respect, equality and equity, that strives to build a better, safer planet for ourselves. We are humans! We have the amazing ability to organize in large numbers and create wonders this world has never known. And we have the resources! At no point in our history have we created so much wealth. $300 trillion dollars sits unused, full of the trust and power that could turn the tide of climate change. We just need the will. But instead, we throw our lives away pursuing unending luxuries. We need to wake our family up.”
“But how Momma?”
“Since pop culture is the opiate of the masses, we will need to sabotage it to shock humanity awake.” Ruru stomps her stiletto. “We need to rip away the meaningless fluff that fills the eyes of our fellow humans. They need to hear the cries of our kin and see the apocalypse approaching. Only then will they feel compelled to use their resources to save us all. With our powers, we can create new mythologies that construct a culture that encourages humans to build a better world, together. We can use Wondaland as a model and convince humanity to cherish the life we live, cherish the love we have and the equality and equity we've created here.”
The holoribbons erupt to show the pillars of pop: music, movies, sensational news and sports. From here, the holoribbons reach like tendrils and choke images of all aspects of human life.
“JA-NL, what you did with the Miss Fritzle program was awe-inspiring. Girl, we need those skills and your Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent to topple these pillars of pop.
“I've assembled my team of Queers, Untouchables, Emigrants, the Excommunicated and Negroids. My Q.U.E.E.N.s! I really want you to join Project Q.U.E.E.N., our musical weapons program of the 21st century, where freedom movements are disguised as songs, where emotion pictures and works of art are able to sabotage the status-quo. These Q.U.E.E.N.s will work to overthrow the vapid parasite of pop which sucks the resources from the planet while stabbing the souls of our kin. Will you join us?”
“Sign me up!” JA-NL beams.
“Wonderful! We're entering the planning process and looking for our first actions. See if you can think of ways to burst these bubbles of pop.”
JA-NL reaches her hand to the holowall and manipulates the space with her fingertips. Her brows furrow and her eyes widen.
“I've got it!” JA-NL snaps her fingers.
“What is it you see?”
“Like a successful terrorist, we need to maximize exposure to maximize impact. Holowall, show me the most visible pop culture events worldwide. These! These will be our targets.”
* * *
To continue the saga, I will need a quick progression of JA-NL from novice to expert which can best be told through a compressed collection of moments.
We're gonna need a Montage!
* * *
JA-NL and two Q.U.E.E.N. recruits, Est'R Holland and Bon-E Dozier, shimmy through a ventilation system.
“Almost there!” Est'R whispers in the metallic tube, letting her echo carry the meaning to the two below. Est'R was a crazy youngster who had been the writing and singing talent behind her world-winning collegiate a capella group. But her singing voice and lyrical skills were overlooked unappreciated because of her “unladylike” appearance. So she left and joined Wondaland.
“Let's get them!” The bombastic Bon-E froths as sharp thorns of glee dance in her eyes. She had sacrificed her Teenage Dream to a talent-deficient pop star who struggled to string two notes together. She was promised that stardom would come to her if she would wait her turn. When her turn never came and her youth was wasted, she defected.
JA-NL takes up the rear.
“We're here!” Est'R sings as she looks down through the grate above the control center at the Denver Pickers stadium. This was hours before the Super Bowl game against the Metropolis Studs, an event which will draw 220 million sets of human eyes.
These sporting events had grown to be a much more immersive experience. Drones whiz around the field and each player wears a camera on their helmet. Audience members recline in their comfy viewing pods with heated seats of fluffy faux-fur and can catch the sights, smells and sounds from thousands of angles.
Est'R signals and all three women slip ear plugs into their ear canals to lock out all sound waves.
Below, munching on Nuclear Hot CheetosTM and sipping cherry-flavored energy drinks with amphetamines are the two remaining, though entirely unnecessary, techies of this multibillion-dollar production.
The drone cameras know how to follow the game. Instantly, the system can jumble the 1,431 different views of the same events into the most optimized footage for a human audience, switching seamlessly between each shot. The patches of grass that cover the field know to ignite with hologram ads underneath each runner's feet. A test run of that night's primary sponsor sprouted on the grass, Ball CreamTM for freshly shorn testicles with antifungal medicine for jock itch. The secondary sponsor is antiperspirant bubbles which can engulf males and neutralize the body odors that waft from their armpits and sphincters and turn these into what most women found to be an equally vile smell called “Victory Stench.”
The two techies hunker down for a four-hour snack sesh while the mechanics whirl around them.
“Drop it low!” Est-r mouths to her sister resistors.
The techies turn to see three black-clad crusaders.
“Nighty Night!” Bon-E smiles and shoots a beam of sound waves that knock them both out.
The men fall to the ground as JA-NL stands over their bodies.
Est-R snaps soundlessly in front of her eyes. She mouths something to the still-stunned JA-NL.
A grimace and a swift shin kick shake JA-NL to. She takes out her ear plugs and stands with wide, concerned eyes.
“Don't worry, they're out for at least an hour. Now, let's get to work.”
Bon-E cackles as she hogties the two. She slinks to the exit and cracks the door, scanning for any sign of their detection. Est'R blacks out the surveillance cameras.
JA-NL plops at the mainframe and erases the last minutes of this room's surveillance footage and switches in a four hour loop of these two neckbeard schlubs snacking.
Like a sculptor, her fingers go to work, finessing the machine before her and bending it to her will.
Within ten minutes, JA-NL has cracked open the control center and connected it to external manipulation.
“Time to bounce!” JA-NL yells.
Back up into the shaft and then to the roof, they snag the autocopter awaiting them.
As the game begins, the easy-chair audience reclines beyond class lines to enjoy the sweet tribalism of professional football. For a moment, the Grips and Vessels believe the barriers between them and the Boujees have melted until they all congeal as a single team, much like how the leftover 7-layer dips will look tomorrow. They felt as one with their overlords in the superficial camaraderie of jerseys and team face paint.
As they watch the game unfold, a new message bursts from the uniform billboards the athletes wear and from the holographic blades of grass.
“The Boujees are using you!” The loudspeakers blare.
“They're stealing all your attention and wealth and using it to destroy our planet.”
The tight ends almost trip as images of sandy deserts spread beneath their feet.
“Two-thirds of all our grassland has become desert because our planet is warming.”
Holograms of hurricanes swirl from all four corners of the field, rushing towards the players. They dive and tumble away from the whipping winds.
“We've created more violent storms all over Earth.”
As the raging twisters fizzle, the final words appear across the field, intriguing the audience.
“We need to change our way of life. We must make Wondaland!”
The audience gasps, drunken and confused by what they have just seen.
Over the next week, JA-NL measures their progress. They found a 25-percent increase in searches for atrocities caused by their human-made climate change.
Momma Ruru scans the results.
“Good, but we still need to go deeper.”
* * *
From the motherboard computer, JA-NL hacks her way into the most important international human language. She creates adorable memes of animals that hover near extinction. With these, she write code to hijack all of the LOLcats online. Viewers now see an adorable, fluffy pika or sleek otter and, just as their eyes dance and they squeal “awww,” the image violently shakes as a warning appears: “8 weeks until extinction!”
With a few more keystrokes, JA-NL hacks into the most popular holonews programs. Beneath the bickering bottle-blondes, a ticker scrolls. From the computer room deep in Wondaland, she scans holograms of the top 20 shows, which pull in a total audience of 637 million humans.
“Click. Click. BOOM!” With the final keystroke, all tickers switch to read information on climate change statistics.
“Greenhouse gases have reached 850 parts per million. This is a Critical Danger to Humanity!”
After this, comes a list of all species pushed to extinction because of human-made climate change.
During the most watched holocube programs, JA-NL hacks these to show the wealth of the richest Haught Boujees and show how only a fraction of this wealth would be needed to cut the greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere to sustainable levels.
During a series of televised prime minister candidate debates for each of the federated city-states, JA-NL cuts into the live feed and splices in placards that dance on their suits. The logos of the corporations which donated to them dance along with their ticker price amount.
“Very impressive!” Momma Ruru slow claps as she struts in. “I think you're ready to infiltrate one of the climate-controlled city-states.”
* * *
JA-NL and her Q.U.E.E.N.s sneak into Los Angeles tucked among a fleet of leeches flown into the city-state. These leeches solemn task was to wax every crevice and crack, and then thread the bushy brows above the only eyes humans cared about. The Haughties and Petties demanded to be perfectly prim before that city-state's greatest affair, the Academy Awards.
Award shows were a ludacris spectacle, where the most celebrated humans celebrated each other in a circle jerk of highly-inflated Haughty and Petty egos. This was to be just another night that convulsed with masturbatory highs and lows... until the Q.U.E.E.N.s arrived.
As wildfires rage outside the domed La-la-land, the humans inside scurry to ready themselves for that night. JA-NL throws on a tux, tugs her lapel and straightens her bow tie. She slicks back her hair on the side of her head. She clicks her black loufers with Tom Cruise stacked heels.
“Some people say I look like my dad... C'est la Vie!” JA-NL says with a devilish smirk.
As a black female, the controlling white society has never fully accepted her as a woman. From the former slave Sojourner Truth demanding at the 1851 Women's Convention, “Ain't I a Woman?” to Hollywood's ideal of womanhood, petite, lighter skinned, straight hair and light eyes, dark-skinned women, like JA-NL, are the antithesis of this. Today, she'll use their prejudice to subvert the system by passing as a man.
“Looking good, squirrel-friend! I'm feeling you, Tuxedo Groove!” Momma Ruru gushes to her over the holophone.
As the caravan of Q.U.E.E.N.s rolls up to the auditorium, JA-NL gulps at the site of tanks and robocops carrying assault rifles circling Sunset boulevard.
“How are you we gonna get in?”
“Please!” Ruru's hologram chuckles dismissively. “This is Project Q.U.E.E.N., we've got undercover agents in all the arts.”
Ruru's team of six follows their directions and slinks to the theater's rear entrance.
Bon-E's bejeweled nails knock the back door. A clipboard clad man in a black turtle neck rips opens the door and smiles.
“Ok ladies, now let's get into formation.” He leans forward and glances side to side. Once he's assured the coast is clear, he ushers them in with a snap.
The event plods through the annual accolades. “Best Hologram in an Action Movie” went to Saw 78 for its 3D light beam rendering of a human sliced into 4,000 pieces, each of which flapped on a dirty, warehouse floor. The gushing hologram artisans described their weeks-long process for creating such lifelike anatomy. They took six recently deceased Vessels, still hot and fresh, and chopped them up to see how their bodies would wiggle and how the blood would flow from each. They then laser scanned these pieces and took the composite to create the hologram for the film.
As the applause track plays, JA-NL and Est'R move into place behind the stage as the penultimate category is announced: “Best Plastic Surgery for a Leading Actress.”
“And the winners are:
“Aileen Theron and Dr. Tyler Durden for the role of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the film, “A Woman's Suffrage,” surgeries include: fat addition, chin and jowl implants, eye puffication, crows feet and frown lines.”
The screen cuts to a photo contrast of this blonde-bombshell actress, tall, toned and lithe, next to the image of this biopic's main role: the robust, rotund, revolutionary and jowly founder of the White Women's Rights movement. Audible shudders quake through the audience. The holoscreen projects the stirring speech from the film's climactic scene as Aileen, transformed as Stanton, stands before a crowd of thousands at Seneca Falls in 1848. In her black dress, the actress cries:
“The prolonged slavery of women is the darkest chapter in human history!”
In the film, the Victorian-era, middle-class, educated white women attendees burst into applause.
At the awards show, Aileen squirms, squeezing the hand of her surgeon, now fully returned to sanctioned beauty, eager for the accolades after months of chunky hardship. She just knew that gorifying her body was an easy step to winning the highest praise in the field of faking humans.
Doctor Durden hoists Aileen onto the stage like a marionette doll. Before the microphone, he describes the process of injecting fat to every inch of her body so she could best play the founder of this women's liberation movement.
As invisible Grips, Est'R and JA-NL wheel out giant screens on either side of center stage. The announcer booms.
“And now welcome the Dowager Countess Katya Zamolodchikova Zsa Zsa Crawley to present the final award of the night.”
Now a grandam in her 60s, this taut-faced actress waddles out, escorted by the action star du jour, who pouts and furrows his severe Cro-Magnon brow. But the crowd is too malnourished, to the point of organ failure, to react. The other actresses try to applaud, but their hands are too weak to reach each other and stir a percussive sound. All that remains of them are racks of ribs and clavicles cutting sharp angles. During each commercial break, an assistant rushes to them with a Go-Go juice box so each can sip just enough to jolt their blood sugar to survive until the next commercial break. But this pop sabotage wasn't for the audience assembled in the theater, it was for those absorbing at home.
As Katya announces the final nominees of the evening, she parrots the words on the telepromtper, squawking without thinking.
“Aaaand the nominees for this yearrrrs Greaaaatest Human-Maaaade Disasterrrr are...”
The screens they dragged out cut to the nominees of that evening. These holograms overtake the theater and fill the homes watched by 837 million humans, a large proportion of Haughties and Petties. A deep commanding voice reads the nominees.
“The droughts and famines in Western Africa. … because of climate change, lack of rains has created food shortages and which have lead to wars and genocides. Death toll, 867,000 lives this year.
“Floods in Bangladesh, because of rising oceans, over 2/3rds of this country's land is under water for more than half the year. Death toll, 1.3 million lives.
“Wildfires that have ravaged 1/3 of American forests.”
“And finally, this year's mass extinctions, numbering 300 species a day, including the last of the corrals in the Great Barrier Reef and the Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses.”
Katya stumbles as she rips open the envelope in her hand.
“Aaaand the winner issss... La-La Glaaaaahhhdiatorrrr!”
* * *
Back in the safety of Wondaland, the Q.U.E.E.N.s brood.
“What are our metrics of success? Are we actually changing any hearts and minds?” Est'R demands.
“Yeah, we need results!” Bon-E chirps.
Momma Ruru mulls as she steps forward.
“You're right. We're only winning small skirmishes, but not the war. All we've done is shock a few people to think. We tickle them with an idea, but it quickly fades. To really change them, we're going to need to wage a large-scale emotional manipulation campaign. And I know just the trick!”