In the Beginning Was the Word and the Word Was from Our Sponsors

In the Beginning Was the Word and the Word Was from Our Sponsors
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“Are you tired of feeling sad?”

This is a difficult scene. This must be tastefully done. The point here is that sadness is passé. You can’t portray sadness as it is, in bed for days, nothing but empty fast-food containers and unwashed pants for company. Telephone fused to its hand in vain because Tom won’t pick up or answer messages, not since he’s met that whore Karen from accounts.

No. You can’t show that. You can’t show that any more than you can show someone wiping their arse in a loo-roll commercial. Gritty truth sells nothing. This has to be the kind of sadness that afflicts interesting, successful people. But it can’t be too sexy because we don’t want anyone getting the idea that sadness is romantic or Byronic or some such shit.

This isn’t melancholy. You’re asking “Are you tired of feeling sad?” but we need to hear “Are you tired of feeling last year’s emotion?” The takeaway here is that sadness has gone the way of double denim. Sad is a faux pas. Sad people don’t deserve our pity. They deserve a special offer for a limited time only.

“Are you tired of feeling sad?”

So let the camera show a woman on a park bench. But not a nice park. She throws bread to a pigeon but the pigeon ignores the bread. Despite only having three toes between two legs he lets the bread bounce off his head because this is a pigeon of standards and he wants no sad bread, thank you.

We should get that pigeon on speed dial. He’ll make us rich. You can’t see that pigeon without thinking something is missing from your life. Give that pigeon anything it wants. Drugs? Lady pigeons? Never mind, let HR worry about the pigeon.

“Are you tired of feeling happy?”

Now this is even trickier than the opening. Nobody is sick of feeling happy. We’re all in it for that sweet kick of dopamine. That’s how we got that pigeon locked into a ten-year contract, though he only worked seven. Fame and fast living were too much to handle. He couldn’t get enough happiness till one day we found him floating upside down in the hot tub. He couldn’t say no to happiness and now Steven in recruitment has to find us a new pigeon. Which will be easy because young pigeons are cutting off their toes to be the next glum pigeon.

They all want a piece of happiness but somehow you’ve got to convince people that they’re tired of happy and that happy is a bit of a drag. Only don’t suggest that happiness will make you sad because sad is over, it’s done, sad is the new coke.

Focus on the smile. Focus on how many muscles it takes to smile. Focus on how wrinkled a smile makes you. Plant in their mind the association between smiling and the inevitable heat death of the universe.

Now we tell them the good news.

Now we tell them about a new product from our friends at Wellspring and Sutcher. Everybody already knows that Wellspring and Sutcher are working with scientists to bring you, the consumer, the very best in lifestyle products.

Here is one of those scientists. Is his lab coat a little tight? Yes. It is. Look just how powerful and muscular the arms of this scientist are. That’s who we’ve had working on your new favourite product: it’s sexy Isaac Newton. What is he selling? Stare into his eyes and let him tell you. Stare into the eyes of this younger, more fuckable Darwin while he quickly recites a list of possible side effects on your cell signal transduction.

What?

We said, “Get ready for Belangé: A new emotion by Wellspring and Sutcher.”

Belangé is suitable for all occasions and none. Belangé is newer and better than the old emotions. You can feel Belangé about all kinds of fun and exciting things.

The opera.

The big game.

The gym.

Even work?!

All it takes is a training session with our qualified experts and you’ll be ready to start feeling Belangé.

This is Anton. He tried Belangé for thirty days for free and was completely satisfied. The thirty-day trial is risk free. If you aren’t completely Belangéd by this new emotion we’ll give you your money back – guaranteed.

The words Belangisfaction guaranteed should appear on the screen here alongside buff Albert Einstein. We need to get in touch with legal about that guarantee. Also the dictionary. We don’t want another paramilitary incident with the guys who make Scrabble.

Now we show the faces of all our satisfied customers.

We show a new customer arriving at a Belangé clinic.

*

As Arthur steps into the foyer he experiences a moment of disorientation. This isn’t just the foyer at the Belangé clinic. Arthur’s gym has this exact foyer and so does his block of flats.

The feeling of always walking into this exact foyer no matter what door he enters is not unlike being stuck inside a hall of mirrors. It’s like one of those stop-start repetitive dreams that stalks you across a whole night no matter how many times you wake and fall back to sleep. He feels as though he could board a ship to a far continent and inside would be this foyer. He feels certain that if he leapt from the ship into the yawning mouth of a whale the inside the whale would be this foyer.

But Arthur has finished with that. He’s done with the inescapable sense of quiescent panic that lives like rising damp in the back of his head. Arthur wants to feel Belangé about this foyer. He doesn’t have to be the victim of his emotions any longer. Arthur has a fucking coupon.

He approaches the front desk and a young man who looks more like a lifeguard than a receptionist appears on the other side. He holds a tablet computer. They use tablets instead of cash registers here. They’ve transcended the cash register.

He notices Arthur admiring the tablet.

“These are so much better for your posture,” he says. “The company has us all use them now. Posture is so important.”

“You must be happy having such an understanding employer,” says Arthur.

“I’m quite Belangé about it,” says the receptionist.

“You’re feeling Belangé right now?”

“I’m Belangéd off my tits, sir,” he confides, leaning across the desk as he does. “Why we don’t we get you booked in?”

Arthur hands the receptionist his coupon. “Now this coupon is only for standard Belangé,” says the receptionist in the same way that you might tell someone that their pet cat is actually a skunk. “I think we could do you a deal on the premium emotion.”

“What’s the difference?” says Arthur.

The receptionist pulls a face and says, “Standard Belangé is a very high quality package,” in a way that makes clear that he has never gone to bed with anyone who feels standard Belangé. “But premium Belangé is a whole other world. I’m just going to book you right in for the premium,” he says.

*

The decor shifts once you leave the reception area. Front of house is designed to replicate the spa or yoga studio. It must be clear at the front desk that Wellspring and Sutcher know their way around a kelp smoothie. These are people that have health and are willing to put that health in others. Everything in the foyer from the soft music to the ergonomic furniture and skin-tight uniforms serves to remind you that Wellspring and Sutcher care about your chakras.

And they do care. They’ve used data mining and analysis to get the inside track of your chakras. They know more about your chakras than Krishna.

But that’s just the foyer. Now Arthur enters a world of low light, leather furniture, and wood panelling. This is a place of seriousness and intellectual power. This part of the clinic is here to remind you that you are in safe hands and not about to submit to any quack remedy at the hands of incense-munching Pilates-gurus.

Arthur is guided into a small office and made to sit on a couch. A therapist with a trimmed beard and tweed jacket enters the room.

“So tell me, Arthur,” he says. “Why do you want to feel Belangé?”

*

So Arthur tells the story of himself, his sister, and their dead mother’s dead dog. This process is not necessary to feeling Belangé but will increase his identification of our brand with therapy and help us to appropriately target advertisements in the future.

Arthur wants to be clear that their mother had always intended to leave the dog to him. He and his sister both knew that this was his mother’s intention. But she had said that Arthur wasn’t ready to take care of another being. Can you believe that?

A judge did.

She stole the dog just to spite Arthur and then she accidentally left it in a café and the café cooked it. It’s not what mother would have wanted even if hotpot was her favourite. And now his sister has the gall the invite him to the funeral.

How does Arthur feel about it?

He can’t stop laughing. Bitter, angry, uncontrollable mirth. He needs a new emotion. One he can wear to a funeral like this. The therapist understands. You can see right away that he understands. We did studies on faces and then gave the therapist the surgery he needed to make sure that Arthur knew that he understands. That’s the service you get at the Belangé clinic. The customer is always right about his dead mother’s dead dog. Arthur is in safe hands.

Cut to Edna.

*

Edna is in a court of law. On trial for murder because she beat her brother Arthur to death with a tasteful statuette of their dead mother’s dead dog. After she had charitably invited Arthur to the funeral and he had behaved like that.

Her lawyer appeals for mercy. With a brother like Arthur can anybody really be surprised that the Bleaux mist descended?

Bleaux, pronounced blue, is the new colour developed by Wellspring and Sutcher. It is 38% more effective than the next most popular colour. It is the official colour of Belangé. It is so exclusive that the copyright is protected by an aggressive and litigious law firm. It is no longer legal to just say blue. You’ve got to say “blue spelt b-l-u-e” or God help you. Wellspring and Sutcher won’t apologise for that. That’s just the law. They’re just using laws that everyone agreed to when they voted for a 3% drop in alcohol duty back in 2396.

When the Bleaux mist descends no one can be accountable for their actions. Edna was well and truly Belangéd and who wouldn’t be under those circumstances. Who wouldn’t be in the midst of an uncontrollable fit of Belangé if they could afford it?

*

Outside the court. Edna is a free woman. There isn’t a court in the land that would convict Edna. She stands on the steps of the courthouse and a journalist asks her how she feels.

We must be careful here. She can’t smile and she can’t frown. That would be off-message. She contorts her face into a new expression. This expression must be tastefully done. It must be North of orgiastic pleasure but at the same time South of respectability. The sort of face you’d pull if the Queen herself scratched that spot on your back that you can’t reach. It’s very important that this be the kind of expression that says my emotions would pair perfectly with the Wellspring and Sutcher Spring Catalogue.

The news of the trial will be followed by a series of advertisements and all of the models will be pulling that same face.

Samuel Morris

About Samuel Morris

Sam lives and works in Cambridge where he writes, ambles, and lies to tourists on a professional basis.

Sam lives and works in Cambridge where he writes, ambles, and lies to tourists on a professional basis.

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