Every now and then I write a satirical short three act play in Crooked Timber comments. It normally takes 15 minutes to write them, so I don't save them, but this one, I think, catches the mood of the current U.S. election better than any other 15 minute piece I could write. It was originally here.
People should be warned that the levels of meaning and allusion in this play are exceptionally subtle and nuanced: I’m not sure that anyone will understand it immediately. But keep studying it and various symbol-systems may cohere.
Also: trigger warning for eyeball eating and other violence.
Happiness and Success!
A short three act play
(A WOMAN and A MAN are sitting at a picnic table).
A WOMEN: “I hate this election season. It’s so bitter this year. It’s like our whole civilization is under threat!” [She stabs a fork down into the tray in front of her, pulls out a human eyeball, and eats it.]
A MAN: “Yes, this election isn’t like any other one I’ve heard of. I’m really worried.”
A WOMAN: “I do my best to make things better… I even eat free range eyeballs. “
A MAN: “Free range *people*, honey. It’s not really correct to objectify parts of people that way.”
A WOMAN: “Oh, yes, of course. That’s what that horrible SECOND CANDIDATE does! I can’t believe that for a moment I sounded like SECOND CANDIDATE!” [She eats another eyeball.]
A MAN: “FIRST CANDIDATE will win, if only those young people vote. I don’t know what their problem is, complaining that we ate their eyes and everything.”
A WOMAN: “And they’re so nasty. They even insulted Gloria Steinem!”
(A circle of GUARDS in standing in the middle of a crowd: each GUARD is holding a leveled automatic weapon. Throughout the scene the GUARDS keep up a low, menacing chant of “KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!” A small group of NIHILISTS stands nearby holding various protest signs.)
A MAN: “He’s running away! KILL!” (A GUARD shoots a running man in the back.)
A WOMAN: “I want to feel safe! KILL!” (Another GUARD shoots three people in the crowd.)
ANOTHER MAN: “Our society is racist! We won’t protect people from dictators.”
ANOTHER WOMAN: “Eh, join in.”
ANOTHER MAN: “All right, I want to fully participate in our society! KILL! KILL!” (GUARDS mow down five more people).
ANOTHER WOMAN: “Law and order! KILL!”
ANOTHER MAN: “Responsibility 2 Protect! KILL!”
A NIHILIST (holding a placard which reads “Maybe we should kill fewer people”): “Um–“
GUARD: “Get back to the free speech zone, sir! Otherwise I will have to KILL!”
A NIHILIST: “Sorry! Going back now!”
ANOTHER MAN: “Racist!”
(the public square. There are happy people, balloons, etc.)
A MAN: “The votes are almost in. I think it’s going to go for FIRST CANDIDATE!”
A WOMAN: “I’m so happy! I love democracy!”
A MAN: “She’s going to win … I’m filled with hope!”
A WOMAN: “By working together we can all figure out how to succeed at whatever we want to do! I’m so happy and full of joy!”
A DIFFERENT MAN: “The votes are in! FIRST CANDIDATE wins!”
The CROWD cheers. FIRST CANDIDATE smilingly takes a machine gun from one of the guards and mows down ten people.
SECOND CANDIDATE: “Eh, she’s still a loser. I would have killed twenty people, because I’m a winner!”
THE CROWD boos SECOND CANDIDATE.
YET ANOTHER WOMAN: “I’m so proud that she’s shown our daughters that anything is possible. Now my little girl will know that she can grow up to kill lots of people just like any man!”
The crowd starts to sing. Even A NIHILIST is pulled in.
“We’re happy and we’re right”
“And oh so polite”
“We know we can succeed”
“And darkness recede”
“Because the killing future is so bright!”
(People are swirling around, laughing, munching on eyeballs, firing weapons into the crowd.)
“Now with this great leap”
“We’ve beaten that creep”
“The election is over”
“And we’re in clover”
“And now it’s time to sleep”