This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2016

Welcome to the future of Canada, where everything is fine

No danger, no risk, no fear, no need

Sky Gilbert

ThisMagazine50_coverLores-minFor our special 50th anniversary issue, Canada’s brightest, boldest, and most rebellious thinkers, doers, and creators share their best big ideas. Through ideas macro and micro, radical and everyday, we present 50 essays, think pieces, and calls to action. Picture: plans for sustainable food systems, radical legislation, revolutionary health care, a greener planet, Indigenous self-government, vibrant cities, safe spaces, peaceful collaboration, and more—we encouraged our writers to dream big, to hope, and to courageously share their ideas and wish lists for our collective better future. Here’s to another 50 years!

The world is smooth, like the unblemished body of a department store mannequin. There’s no way in or way out. People don’t die anymore—at least no one talks about it online, so it must not actually happen. Life is lived mainly indoors, if you can call it that. But what a world is at our fingertips! There are so many places to go and so many people to be! Everyone has several identities, so you don’t really know who you are talking to—but who is anybody anyway? Identity politics are long gone. We all know how horrible it was when people like Martin Luther King and Malcom X and Muhammed Ali tried to divide people into groups, to classify them by race, gender, sexual orientation. Now we know that we are all one people; we are all one family. Labels only divide, so there are no longer labels anymore. If you think of anyone as different or “other” you secretly slap yourself. (Ooh! It’s somewhat thrilling …I’ve been bad!) It’s best to think of everyone as the same. We all want love. We all want to be loved. All of our entertainments tell us that.

And how we love our entertainments! There are no more films by Woody Allen, there are no poems by Ezra Pound, and lately Dorothy Parker has been crossed off the list (due to her alcoholism—what a sad ugly woman she was, and so lonely!). It’s not really clear why these people were ever classed as artists, when they were clearly fascists, drunks, and child molesters with weak chins. What made people believe the things they wrote? Why would anyone not wonder at the toxicity of their demented visions?

Everything centres on the family. The family is good. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Fathers still work, and they are still grumpy and difficult to talk to. Mothers still take care of children and push a button that bakes the bread. People look back at that strange, outlandish period (the 1960s and somewhat after) when women tried to act like men—well look what happened! It can all be summed up by two words: Hillary Clinton. How crazy was she? (Pantsuits! Just imagine!) Women want to have doors opened for them, always did, and they want to be pretty and petted and coddled and taken care of. And women don’t like sex.

Nobody does, really. That’s why it’s so grand that there is no sex anymore. There’s all sorts of ways to have babies (How we love babies! How we love to look at them online!). We don’t really need sex anymore. And all sex is rape anyway. Consent is just so….difficult. Now nothing means “yes” because—there’s nothing to consent to! Of course people still play, in the privacy of their own home, in safe places, clean, antiseptic, condom filled rooms, that they enter and leave alone. The rooms where we play are like condoms. Because the important thing is to be safe. “Be safe!” we say, when someone goes into the Condom Room. But we know they will be. Safety is what everyone likes most of all.

No danger, no risk, no fear, no need, no longing, no sadness no desire.

Of course there is talk of … there are rumours of …

It can’t be true. It mustn’t be.

That there are “Cells.” “Communist Cells.” In the woods… where things happen between people. Not online. Not in condom rooms. People say the “Communist Cells” started when people used to leave their houses (after all, why would they do that?) and meet secretly and play games (Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Hearts) in coffee shops. That’s why board games were banned.

Who needs board games?

I mean who needs other people anyway?

They can just be so stressful.

I’m tuning out now.

Going online.

Aldous Huxley was so wrong. It’s laughable really. (He was a drug addict, like all the rest of those damned artists!) He said that in the future we would all be on drugs.

But our civilization, in honour of St. Nancy (Reagan) said a big fat “No!” to drugs!

We have the internet.

Sky Gilbert is a writer, director, teacher, drag queen extraordinaire, co-founder, and former artistic director of Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Sky’s new novel Sad Old Faggot (ECW, Fall 2016) is a work of autobiographical fiction—though he has long believed that all writing is fiction and is doing his best to prove it.

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