Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spanner 10.5: Battle of the Pop Idols

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 10: Fashion Meltdown
Part 5: Battle of the Pop Idols (Final Revision)

locker room. Like all the Nike Arenas built for SPEC, Bangor High’s has its own logo-infested locker rooms. Charlie, Desiree, Sally, and Kitty strip out of their civilian clothes down to their underwear. Jennifer and Leila change into civilian clothes. Shira wears a long blue T-shirt with the strange twisted logo adopted by Team Bremelo in white. Sally asks, "So how we gonna beat this DisneyPop act?"

Kitty adds, “Yeah! Minty’s got all the corporate professionals.”

Shira grins. “Sure, she’s got all the professionals DisneyPop’s money can buy. She’s also got three producers too many and a committee of ten songwriters who can’t write their way out of a paper bag.” She walks over to put her hands on their shoulders; Charlie, Desiree, and Jennifer slip in behind her. “We’ve got authenticity, Stylism... and surprise.” She winks.

nike arena. A big Challenge deserves an arena to match. But not even the more than ten thousand seats of Bangor High’s basketball arena can contain the Challenge its most famous graduate threw at its most scandalous student tutor in an impulsive rage.

The lights go dark for the opening act. The curtain opens and the spotlights illuminate a rainbow set. The music that plays over the PR system is light pop that is bouncy and positive without being saccharine like too much DisneyPop and J-Pop can be. Karen Kubota dances onto the stage; behind her, two lines of girls in white T-shirts and knee-length shorts run on from opposite directions. She wears the same T-shirt, but with an unpleated miniskirt. The design on the T-shirts is an abstract design of a rainbow-colored world surrounded by angular silhouette children; it says “Youth for Peace.” All the songs she’s written relate to her strong Buddhist beliefs and her organization’s worldwide peace activism. As her dancers move in near-perfect unison behind her, she sings in her sweet voice:
Too many people suffer in silence
They cry and hurt and struggle alone
Too many people lash out in violence
They hurt each other too close to home
It’s up to us to be each day
Examples of a better way

Friends across the world!
Youth united in harmony!
Friends across the world!
Let’s come together as friends for peace!

tour bus. SPEC CEO Ross glares at Minty and her DisneyPop crew. “You shouldn’t have let your client be this impulsive, Marshall.”

Marshall Brinkman watches the makeup robots apply Minty’s makeup with robotic precision. “Competition is the soul of America. You know that.”

“She Challenged Shira Thomas, for God’s sake! You’re risking my company’s humiliation!”

“Then why’d you let her in, Pete?” Ross freezes. He has no answer.

dressing room. Jennifer lovingly paints Shira’s naked body. She notices Leila glaring at her jealously and gives her a sweet smile. “C’mon, help me. You can feel her up all you want.” She winks. Leila sighs and picks up a brush.

Shira’s band watch on in, black leather lace-up boots, mobster fedoras, and not-so-matching Picasso-expressionist minidresses:
  1. Charlie: guitar
  2. Desiree: keyboards
  3. Kitty: bass
  4. Sally: drums
Charlie asks, “So what’s the rules of this Challenge?”

Shira replies, “No dialect or foreign languages, no covering corporate-owned songs, no political incorrectness. Other than that, anything goes.”

Sally paces around impatiently. “How come Karen’s gotta start?”

“She asked.” Shira winks.

Youth of the world, let’s get together
Young friends as one in harmony
Let’s all join hands as friends forever
Create a new world for all to see...
Karen’s song is catchy enough that people in the audience get up to dance in the stands and clap their hands to the beat. By the time Charlie and Desiree finish their instrumental duet, the audience are ready to sing along. But up in the luxury box seats, the Corporates come to see Minty destroy Shira fidget impatiently. They settle their restless egos by reminding themselves that Karen belongs to a cult.

tour bus. Marshall whispers into Minty’s ear, “She’s singing another of those songs her cult wrote for her.”

Her harridan manager, fallen bubblegum star Lottie Lee, says, “She’s the enemy now. You gotta destroy her.”

Her world-weary producer, cynical former rock star Trent Lord, says, “Don’t mess up, Minty. The whole company’s depending on you.”

Minty says nothing. She only stares into space and worries.

dressing room. The paint is dry; the band shut off their hair dryers. Jennifer holds blushing Leila from behind. “Now for the test!”

Silver rainbows cover Shira’s skin from the neck down. Suddenly it glows blue. The blue slowly fades to black. Videogame logos animate across her body then fade. A rapid-fire series of superheroine costumes. It turns transparent and finally silver again. Jennifer, Leila, and the band watch in fascination. Shira smiles at them. “I’d say it works.”

Friends across the world!
Youth united in harmony!
Friends across the world!
Let’s come together as friends for peace!
Karen and her dancers come up to the front of the stage, hold hands, and bow together. “Thank you, everybody! I love you all!” she cries out, to a thunderous standing ovation.

On her way backstage, Karen spots Minty and gasps. But Minty is surrounded by hostile bodyguards, publicists, and lawyers, so Karen has no hope of reaching her or even speaking to her. Minty, who once claimed to be a friend, only gives her a sideling look of disdain. Karen stands there stunned. She sprints to the dressing room as soon as Minty passes.

She finds Jennifer and Leila fitting spiked-leather bustier and bikini shorts onto Shira’s silvered body. Shira smiles ironically. “That’s not the Minty you used to know, cuz. She’s DisneyPop’s proxy now.”

“What am I to her now?”

“Amateur competition.” Shira does not smile. Karen lowers her head in defeat.

Professional choreographers perfectly planned all the moves Minty and her dancers will make. Everything has been planned out perfectly, even the guitar solo. (Karen: “I caught her act on TV the other day. It looks mechanical.” Shira: “That’s ’cuz she’s a cog in the corporate media machine.”) The curtains go up, the dancers run on stage, Minty enters from behind the rear curtain wearing a frilly green dress with a short skirt over green elf boots, and a thousand young female voices scream for her with the volume of millions. (Shira: “I’m afraid I’ll catch diabetes just from listening to her BubbleGum crap, but I gotta stick around if I wanna own the bitch.”)

The pleasant pop bounces. Minty floats her way to the front. Everybody already knows what the song is and sings along so that the combined voices of a thousand girls not old enough for high school drown out the amplified girlish voice of their idol. The name of the song is “Love Revolution,” but the second word in the title signifies only “tha kewl”; the actual song is the standard DisneyPop sappy love song.
We were meant to be together
Since before the start of time
Through the rain and stormy weather
You and me, our hearts combine

We’ll sing our love while our hearts dance
Eternal as the stars above
It’s always time for a true romance
Now we’re living just for love

dressing room. Charlie slaps her forehead. “Love, dove, above — wuuuuv!

Desiree twists her face in scorn. “We gotta give the bitch a big shove.”

Shira mischievously purrs, “Minty baby, I’m gonna ‘wuv’ ya to death.”

We’re gonna start a love revolution
Every time your lips meet mine
We will create the pure love solution
Forever let our hearts entwine

dressing room. Desiree groans. “So far, so typical.”

Charlie sighs. “I’m so glad we’re no longer stuck with that crap.”

“What’s our song? ‘Eat My Words’? ‘Trouble Up Ahead’?”

“How about ‘Failure Is the Only Option.’ That should prick her goat.”

Shira winks. “Let’s kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.”

We’re gonna start a love revolution
Every time your lips meet mine
We will create the pure love solution
Forever let our hearts entwine
Nothing can stop our love divine
And we’ll be married for all time

Love — love — love!
The crowd explodes into thunderous cheers. Minty and her dancers rush off the stage with military precision. The song is cute but unremarkable. What the girls are worshipping is the glamour of celebrity which blots out the person of Minty Fresh. Minty doesn’t have the strength of personality to resist the force of the celebrity Disney Corporation has burdened her with. Shira does, and she plans to use it against her.

The lights go back up for the next five minutes. Shira is preparing for her spectacular entrance. People talk darkly about her and share rumors. What some of them seem to dread most is not so much her chosen style of music (i.e., what the media marketers of the fashion-industrial complex call “hip-pop”) so much as the styles she wears on her body. She is known to prefer styles that flatter her curves. The scandal is not so much that she wears them as the fact that she’s only fifteen.

The theatre lights go down. The curtain opens. The backstage band start to play; the low slow hip-hop beat kicks in, followed by Charlie’s menacing staccato and a gangsterish buzzing punk-funk synth in E minor. The stage lights turn on and go psychedelic. Multicolored streamers and confetti rain down. And then the spotlights converge in white as the fog bomb explodes and Shira emerges out of the thick white vapor holding out her arms in a victory stance — wearing spectacular white-feathered headdress, spiky fashion-punk mirrorshades, spiked black leather minijacket over matching bustier and bikini shorts, bladed black leather Batman gloves, high-heeled steel-buckled black leather combat boots, her trademark cockeyed smile, and television the color of a dead analog channel on her exposed skin — the boys roar and howl, Shira’s instant fanclub unleash a collective scream. Cory, Kio, and Dexter step up behind her dressed robo Kato and start dancing the funky robot. Shira’s TV skin broadcasts explosions, firing squads, and the beautiful murderous face of Che Guevara; she sashays up to the microphone, violently swipes it off the stand, and proclaims: “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you war!” Charlie rocks the pick down her Strat’s G string, and Shira begins to sing “Melt For Me”:
You step out of your brand new car
The drama queen of the disco scene
You think you know just what you are
You make me scream and fall down to my knees

You’re cold and far like a distant star
You’re so crazy bent and like to torment
You got no idea how hot you are
You don’t know how wet you make me get

I’m the one that you desire
You’re the ice and I’m the fire

I’m too hot for you to handle
I got your key to ecstasy
You and me, we’re a ragin’ scandal
It’s plain to see you melt for me
Charlie begins a blazing guitar solo that tears the air. Shira blows Charmian a kiss and throws her a wicked wink. Charmian goes cold with shock and horror, then goes hot with rage and screams. She climbs up on stage to attack Shira in a frenzy; her sisters Christian and Julian and their furious cousin Debbie leap on behind her. Lady faints into Lucy’s arms from sheer sensory overload. The song stops and the stage swarms with burly security personnel prying mean girls off Shira and the boys. The non-rocking adults in the audience flee the auditorium in panic as if it were on fire. The fire bringing the house down is, in fact, burning in Shira’s heart; they are unable to handle it and they know it.

Suddenly, the curtain closes and the lights turn back on to reveal a panicked crowd walking all over each other in their desperation to escape. Shira lands on the floor, takes off her headdress, and drops it on the stage. She peeks out through the curtain to witness the chaos. The people who aren’t panicking are calling friends and loved ones on their cellphones; some of them are calling for paramedics. Shira’s head vanishes from in front of the curtain; she goes backstage and puts on a khaki duster coat and ties the sash tight around her waist.

When she emerges from backstage and skips down the steps in to the seats, Shira sees Karen tending to the wounded. “Need any help?”

“Thanks, but the paramedics are here already.” Shira stands up and sees several EMTs and firefighters rushing through the doors to take care of the wounded. The police come soon after.

Leila pulls Shira away; they run together backstage and into the dressing room. The two lovers stare at each other breathlessly. Overwhelmed by excitement, Leila pants, "You wrote that song for me, didn't you.”

“You’re only half right.” Shira pulls her close. “I wrote it for us.” Their lips collide, they fondle each other violently, they attack each other with ferocious bruising kisses—

luxury box. The defibrillator’s shock makes Ross convulse. He coughs, chokes, struggles to breathe. The Mobley brothers, Chief Anson and Coach Terry, stare down at him in concern. Marshall Brinkman sadly shakes his head and paces. Lottie rants, “She had to go Rock ’N’ Roll on us. She just had to go Rock ’N’ Roll.”

The EMTs help Ross to his feet. He brushes himself off. “You were foolish enough to Challenge Shira Thomas. Your company will have to pay for the damages.”

“What about Shira Thomas?” asks Marshall.

Ross stares at Chief Mobley. The Chief stares at Marshall. “Sorry, Marsh, Coyne’s got our hands tied. You think you can untie ’em, go right ahead.”

“Meanwhile,” says Ross to Marshall, “I’ll have your kids report directly to me.”

locker room. Jennifer and Leila apply the special soap required to remove Shira’s video body paint. Karen showers off the sweat and humilation. “I never expected them to riot to some pop song.”

Shira winks. “That was no mere pop song. They don’t know underground.” Leila washes the last of the special soap and body paint off her. Shira says, “What we put on the Darknet, they got no idea. They watch the DisneyPop Network whenever they’re not obsessing over the conspiracy theories on the lamestream news or sacrificing their life’s savings so charlatan Shepherds can magically make ’em rich. They’re so retrograde they actually listen to the radio, where all that’s on is DisneyPop, Patriot Metal, Party propaganda, and politically correct hate talk. So when I went all Rock ’N’ Roll on ’em, they couldn’t handle it, and so they panicked.”

Jennifer exults, “It was almost like Rebel Styles gone live-action!”

Shira grins wickedly. “All according to plan.” She lustily soaps up Leila’s body and makes her moan. Karen and the band stare at them in amazed fascination.

“I didn’t know you two were in love,” says Karen.

Kitty laughs. “I didn’t know you kept your secret from Karen!”

Excited by the feeling of their eyes on her body, Leila purrs, “You want us to show you how much we crave each other?”

Shira says, “You mean right in front of them?”

“Oh bloody hell, I can’t wait for an answer.” Leila spins around, drapes a leg around Shira’s body, pulls up Shira’s leg, plants Shira’s hands on her buttocks and her hands on Shira’s, and makes love to her as hard as she can — they violently rub their cunts together, cry out without inhibition, scream their love for each other — the others stare on, eyes wide, jaws to the floor, blushing furiously, all silent as the two lovers build to a shattering climax right before their eyes—

They soap each other again. They kiss languidly. Sally marvels, “Just that kiss alone would be enough to cause a riot.”

Desiree slips behind Charlie, holds her tight, caresses her breasts. “If they did it in public, that would be a terrorist act in itself.”

Kitty says, “You gotta be kidding.”

“You don’t know how prudish Real Americans can be. My wife and I have killed entire churches with just one kiss.”

“To them,” says Charlie, “true love is terrorism.”

Jennifer says, “Well, I say this victory deserves a special celebration.” The others stare at her. She winks mischievously. The others grin.

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Copyright © 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 4 Final, 9/18/12: Revised for Final Revision continuity. Karen’s song cut down considerably; new backstage scenes added.]

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