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An Oral History of Game

An Oral History of Game Show Dystopias by Alexei Kalinchuk A new competitive cooking show funded by the government and a plastic food container manufacturer started after the last crisis. This crisis, at least, didn’t involve mortgage-based debt instruments. Nonetheless this one also devastated the economy and the whole culture went into freefall thereafter. Not just consumer spending, but whole bodies of ethics and theology suspended operations. Certain taboos lifted as well. I’m getting sidetracked already. The game show. Right. Cannibalism-based cooking shows lacked glamour when they first started. I thought that was a mistake. If you’re going to do this kind of show at all, don’t be coy. Can’t play virgin while punching time clocks in a brothel. Be upfront, upfront but classy. When these shows started, they all had so much do-goodery it turned the stomach. All this talk of nutrition and technique- Coloradans’ firm flesh had a velvety flavor full of vitamins while Minnesotans had to be filleted just so-but all anyone thinks is: get to it. And the hosts! No makeup up on these women with plain hairstyles, unthreatening potbellied men. They all looked like public radio personalities. All this feel-good jabber, but no one was talking about the real problem: depopulation. We were running out of defensible and delicious humans to eat. Prisoners and the mentally ill didn’t top anyone’s list of edibles, meanwhile, state constitutional amendments against cannibalism were gathering momentum at the ballot box while pro bono

litigators fought to outlaw the practice. Bless their pointed little heads. If the government would’ve put me on retainer from the start, we could’ve rolled back the Pro-People Movement in weeks. Instead, it took a year. But what a year! First we had to fire those awful public access style hosts! Then we’d feed the people so much glamour they’d shit rhinestones! What times they were... Right now you’re sitting where that government man did when he came to hire me. After we discussed the job and negotiated a fee, he asks, “Well, where do we go from here?” I remember that I leaned back and allowed myself a smile. Things were about to change. Rightly or wrongly, an era was about to begin and I would be in the thick of it. If and when the pendulum swung the other way, my reputation would suffer. And it did. I accept my fall. But don’t ever say I didn’t have progressive ideas. Author bio: Alexei Kalinchuk writes literary novels, has had fiction published in Amoskeag Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Foliate Oak. He smells like fennel, sleeps on a mattress stuffed with cilantro, and eats pomegranates alone.

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