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The utility of individual humans tends to average out. Power is control of poverty.

- The Darkness

6 Years Ago - Mr. Popularity - Town Hall

I look at the line of people waiting to ask questions. There she is; my only questioner. I’m at the fifth debate of a small town election. I’m running for the Alternative Party, and don’t have a chance of winning. That doesn’t stop my Conservative opponent from having one of his staffers ask me the same question every debate. She steps up to the mic.

“My question is for Mr. Popularity.” she says. “Do you have the moral authority to address the pornography problem?”

Fuck you lady. She’s referring to my sex tape. I was on a reality game show that taped 24/7. Four months is a long time to go without an orgasm. I didn’t quite make it. Didn’t win the game either, though I was voted Mr. Popularity.

“What pornography problem? The one where porn’s the only sex education that half the country gets?” I shouldn’t have said that. Fuck it, the press left an hour ago. They get a quote or two from the Liberal and Conservative candidates then bug out. As far as the media is concerned, I’m not even here.

“The problem of teenage girls being coerced into ruining their future to meet the demands of men’s perversions.” she says.

That’s a lot to unpack. Men are perverted, I’ll give her that one. I don’t think there’s a demand for more porn, though. I think we’re good. If they stopped making porn today, it would probably be years before anybody noticed. If we stopped making beer today, there would be riots tomorrow. That’s what demand looks like.

Also, I don’t think being in a porno ruins your future. Didn’t ruin mine. Well, maybe a little. Okay, it’s pretty ruined. There’s people actively trying to ruin it. Fucking weirdos.

The coercion, tho. That’s ugly. I’d like to stop that. Let’s take a stab at it.

“They’re coerced with promises of celebrity?” I ask. “A celebrity that is statistically unattainable?”

She nods. I have correctly articulated one of her arguments. We’ve talked before.

“We lie to every 18 year old.” I say. “Porn will make you famous. College will make you smart. Or rich. The army will make you a hero. We’ll never stop lying to them, it’s too easy, too profitable. They should stop trusting us.”

There’s an awkward silence.

“Because, when they're kids, we take care of them. Protect them. Value their potential. Try to add to it. Then they turn 18, and we’re like, fuck it, they’re adults. Let’s fuck’em any way we can. It's a rough transition.”

“Are you saying joining the army is as bad as being a whore?” asks Mr. Conservative.

“What? I don’t know. Who cares?” I say. “I said we trick kids into joining the army. If they knew they’d never be heroes we’d have to pay mercenary wages.”

“You do not support the troops!” says Mr. Conservative.

“Fuck off.” I say. “This is my damn question. Shut your trap and let me answer it.”

“Are you even trying to answer it?” asks the moderator.

“Yes!” I say. “What was it again?”

“Do you have the moral authority to... “ says the moderator.

“Yeah! The porno thing.” I interrupt. “Listen, do porno if you want, just remember that celebrity is inherently valueless. That’s my answer.”

Silence.

“If celebrity is valueless, why would anyone vote for you?” asks my questioner.

“Because I have good ideas?” I say.

Awkward silence.

“Well, I think they’re good.” I can die now.

A small woman ruthlessly cuts in line. Takes the mic.

“Can we meet for a beer after the debate?” she asks.

“Sure.” I say. “Why not?”

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Doctor Zero

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