Video Killed the Radio Star
“They took the credit for your second symphony
Lukasz Higgins's heels knock on the linoleum floors. The sound waves fill the empty offices. Joy flits in him as he oozes through the halls.
It had only been three months since he cashed out his meager, early-stage investment in an at-home gluteal injection company, SilibuttsTM, for $375 million. After three alleged “deaths,” he knew the FBI was itching to shut it down, so he divested. With his returns, he bought the abandoned Disney Channel studios for a song.
As he surveys his acquisition, his fingertips dance with excitement at the possibilities. He could turn the lot into a go-kart maze. Ooo oo! And he could decorate each of the karts as a different sci-fi film franchise and rally his own War of the Worlds.
Or the sound stages could turn into porn sets... with just a few alterations. This way, he could pump out 100 times the scenes and quintuple the audience Disney once had. Sure, Disney had a channel that once reached into 100-million living rooms, but his site would reach into billions of bedrooms and bathrooms.
He would need to invest in stirrups and transvaginal ultrasound machines for the intralabial camera angles that had become the new porn norm.
With wistfulness, he recalls the good ol' days of getting a glossy and greasy Penthouse porn rag second hand. Oh the thrill he would feel to see an exposed underboob or the whisper of an areola through a soaking-wet white T-shirt. But now, a high-definition, 3D-hologram of a woman's vagina could hardly draw blood to his, or millions of men's, penile arteries.
Now, he yearns to see a woman's birth canal palpitate as it slurps up seminal fluids. Sigh... His entrepreneurial mind ignites as he realizes he could buy used transvaginal ultrasound machines from any Alabama or Mississippi hospitals' gynecology unit.
He wonders if there was any cranny of the human body free from scrutiny or fetishization. Wenis nibbling had faded. Coccyx fellating had fallen out of favor. Oh what tingles Deep Deep Throat brought him when he saw his first endoscopy smut. The excitement climaxed just past the uvula, as the cameras slid up and down and up and down and up and down the lady's 8-inch long, moist pink esophagus. But now, hundreds of gullet pornos had saturated the market and even a video penetrating a woman's pyloric sphincter, which connects her stomach with her small intestine, couldn't raise a droplet from his salivary glands.
“I'll put this in the maybe column for now,” Higgins thinks.
An eerie calm haunts the buildings. All the employees of this studio had been laid off overnight. The doors were locked. The keycards were deactivated. The desks were piled high with tchotchkes collected over years of hoarding. When Disney severed its live-action division, it shuttered the building immediately.
Higgins enjoys a perverse glee as he rifles through these no-longer-personal effects. Oh what treasures he will find! Sure, the as-is stipulation of the sale will be laborious when he trashes most of what remains.
But for now, the hunt excites him.
In one office, he finds a mystery machine.
“What the Devil is this?” He wonders as he flicks it on.
A brilliant light whirs to life and a beam fills the space in front of him, 6 feet tall. A prototype for a Hannah Montana hologram forms from the beam.
“Nobody's perfect, I gotta work it! Again and again 'til I get it right.” The familiar voice sings.
“Gah! Stop it! No, no, no.” Higgins hits a button.
The hologram freezes. Higgins exhales when---
“Do the Hoedown Throwdown! Zig-zag, across the floor, shuffle in diagonal, when the drum hits, hands on your hips.” The bot brays and sways to its Honky Tonk Dance.
Higgins rips the plug from the wall and the specter fizzles away.
When Disney acquired Lucas Films, it had forced Industrial Light and Magic to stop plotting galaxies far, far away and design holograms, starting with this Hannah Montana monstrosity. The plan was to rent these for children's birthday parties, rodeos and bat mitzvahs. The question wasn't if they could create the technology. Higgins's horror proved they could. The difficult question was legal. Of course, Disney owned the rights to Hannah MontanaTM and her likeness. But that persnickety vessel, Milez Cyrus, could claim partial ownership of this image as well. Sure, the blonde hair, veneers and dance moves were all property of Disney. But the rest would be litigated and Milez had a pretty good claim to their body.
If only Disney could capitalize on the trick other industries had for their armies of celebrity holograms. Just wait until they're dead! The moment brain waves ceased, they became a non-person and lost all rights to the form they once inhabited. Sony had snuck a clause into contracts with its stars saying that the company would retain likeness rights for infinity. For infinity! Even after the sun swallows the Earth in 7.5 billion years, Sony will retain these rights.
At the same moment Higgins clamors through his new studio, experiments at scaling up pop stars had moved into production. One thousand Michael Jacksons moonwalked across Earth and one hundred Whitney Houstons pounded their chests before belting “And I-e-I.”
But the basement recording studio beckons him. Once he's swaddled in the room's soundproof acoustic foam, Higgins squeals. A Steinway grand piano lays beneath a microphone. Higgins sweeps away the jingle sheet music and plunks down on the bench. Though his digits hadn't brokered harmonies between the ebonies and the ivories since high school, his muscle memory twitches down to his fingertips. Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 21 flows from him with ease. Possessed, he rolls through the first and second movements. But then a pang of dissonance roars from his right hand, reverberating off the strings into his ears. He feels the slap of a music book across his back and looks up as he remembers the disappointment radiating from his large, Wagnerian mother.
He waves the maternal phantom and her pain away and finishes the symphony with a thundering Clang-Clang.
He springs to his feet and bows to the imaginary audience applauding him in Carnegie Hall.
Music! Music! Music!
The eureka streaks through him.
He knows exactly what to do with this abandoned studio! He reaches for his phone and calls the only friend who could help.