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R e m o t e   C o n t r o l
The haunting of mass mediation

 

       

Remote Control Performance Monologue #1

I was eight years old. It was pitch black outside. My father and I were barbecuing out in the yard, on our farm, next to the vineyard. The sweet aroma of lamb permeated the night air; throughout the entire neighborhood. Father walked over to the shed and pulled out the trouble light, the one he would often use to repair the tractor whenever it broke down in the middle of the night. He brought it over to the barbecue pit to see if the meat was done, to see if it was ready to eat.

When he switched on the light, I caught a glimpse of the large star tattooed on his right upper arm. He caught me looking at, he caught me staring. He admonished me never to mark my body the way he had done. Out of embarrassment, I looked away into the dark trying to figure out what I'd said to offend him, to make him react the way that he did.

Just then Mother called me into the house to bathe before dinner. I ran in immediately to get away from the situation with my father. I jumped into the tub where she bathed me. Then she had me stand on the toilet seat where she toweled me off. As she was drying my legs, she pointed to the two large birth marks directly across from eachother on the front of my thighs. "Distinguishing marks," she said. God given distinguishing marks that she would use to find me should I ever get lost or kidnapped.

My mother was kidnapped as a child. She was taken from my grandmother's arms while the two of them were in exodus during the 1915 Armenian Genocide. They were walking along a path when a Turkish soldier rode up on horseback, grabbed my mother from my grandmother's arms, and rode off into the distance. Horrified over the ordeal, my grandmother fell to her knees and began to bang at her thighs lamenting, crying out, begging for God's mercy. All the while, she kept her eyes fixed on the diminishing image of the soldier carrying my mother away; as they got smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and smaller until they were a dot on the horizon. She fixed her gaze on that dot until...it disappeared. She still didn't give up hope. She scanned the horizon line back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, hoping, praying until finally the dot reappeared and got larger, and larger, and larger, and larger. The soldier returned and placed my mother back in my grandmother's arms and told her: "I couldn't bear to take a crying child from its mother."

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Remote Control Performance Monologue #2

My bladder awakened me from a deep sleep at two o'clock in the morning. As I walked down the hallway to the bathroom, I could barely keep my eyes open. Passing through the kitchen, I caught a whiff of the lamb mother had prepared for dinner. Standing before the toilet in my bare feet, I bent over and lifted the seat. As I relieved myself, my eyes acclimated to the darkness. An interesting correlation, but I was too drowsy to notice. Instead, I saw the faint outlines of the Kleenex box on the toilet tank. The Sears and Roebuck shower curtain was covered with a pink floral pattern. Mother's flower paintings hung on the wall next to Father's John Deere calendar.

After urinating, I slowly walked back to the bedroom that I shared with my brother. As I crawled under the covers, I glanced out the open sash window. I noticed an unusual light fluttering in the distance. It was pulsating through the front windows of the neighbor's house across the street. An old woman lived there by herself. She seldom spoke to anyone. Uncertain as to what I was witnessing, I poked my brother to awakened him. I whispered and pointed to the old woman's house. He rolled over and glanced out the window. Not noticing anything, he angrily asked if I was crazy and not to bother him.

In a loud whisper, I insisted he look again. He frightened me when he suddenly jumped from his bed and hit the floor with a bang. I followed him down; a typical response whenever we were stirred by the dark. Strange nightly movements, strange noises occurred frequently about our farm. The driveway, the irrigation ditch, the pump house, the chicken coop, the vineyard. In the dark, they were fertile ground for our unrestrained fantasies. The veracity of our mental images often compelled us to test each other's courage. We'd dare each other to dump the kitchen garbage out in the dark of night. Whenever I returned out of breath, my brother knew I had run the distance unable to curb my fear.

From the floor, we slowly lifted our heads and peaked over the ledge of our window. Again we fixed our gaze on the old woman's front windows. We considered the possibility of a burglar wielding a flashlight inside her house. This light source, however, was different from the focused white beam of a flashlight. Its flickering seemed to emanate from a fixed hidden source. It was unlike anything we had seen. A bluish-gray color flooded the room and bounced off the walls.

Suddenly, a cool breeze gusted through the mesh of our window screen. Its wailing sound shifted our curiosity to fear. We quickly leaped into bed and pulled the covers over our heads. Not a word was spoken between us. We laid still in the dark, listening, waiting. We heard sounds of our breathing and the beating of our hearts. Believing what was out-of-sight was out-of-mind, we soon fell asleep.

The next morning, a friend informed us of the first TV in the neighborhood. It was located in the old woman's house across the street, he said. The one whose flickering light terrified my brother and I. As the mystery was explained by our friend, our fear abated, and our curiosity piqued. Although we had heard about TV, we'd never set eyes on one. To catch a glimpse, we kept a vigil.

We waited and watched to see what would transpire at the old woman's house. We moved our surveillance to the middle of the street. There, under the pretense of playing kick ball, we remained alert to possibility. Later that afternoon, our strategy paid off. The midday sun warmed the weather prompting the old woman to open her front door.

The cool air entered her house through the screen door, as did our gaze. We stopped playing and surreptitiously approached the old woman's front porch. There, through the screen of the front door, we saw TV for the first time. It was 1955, I was 12 years old, and my brother was 10.

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Remote Control Performance Monologue #3

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you!

In the kitchen, in the living room, you watch it, it watches you.

In the bedrooms and bathrooms, you control it, it controls you.

You're surrounded, it's ubiquitous, it's everywhere.

Colliding pictures and sound bites terrorize your thoughts.

Contiguous images construct your identity.

Four, six, eight, ten, twelve hours a day.

You're anesthetized, numb, indifferent.

You once learned by scanning, physically turning your head.

Maneuvering, you continually repositioned yourself.

You wanted to see what you were looking at, you said.

Your gaze is now fixed, you no longer have to move.

Without effort, you look, but are blind to the world.

 

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you! Packard Bell, Motorola, RCA, Zenith commercials whetted your appetite.

You wanted a console model, not a portable, and finally got one in your house.

It replaced family activities, religious rituals, time with your friends.

Work, play, and pray were disrupted as you sat and gazed at the box.

You learned to look, behave, walk, and speak like...like...like...like...like.

You saw it for the first time just after Elvis made his debute on Ed Sullivan.

The reasons for his pelvic gyrations now seem rather obvious.

Necessary movement to compensate for disembodied experience.

You layed on the sofa while watching him perform Jailhouse Rock.

When you got older, you danced your ass off at Big Bob's Rock n' Roll.

You wanted to experience your body, you forgot you had one, you said.

 

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you! Outside intervention going on in your own house.

Held hostage, you sit in the dark and attend to schizophrenic images.

You've become accustomed to experiencing reality vicariously.

Your's is an immaculate perception, a sanitary life.

You travel the far reaches of the world, visit other cultures, past, present, future.

You are there, but not there.

You see dirt, but don't get dirty.

You see sweat, but sit in your air-conditioned environment.

You see hunger, but walk to the refrigerator for a snack.

You see pestilence, but have a team of doctors and pharmacy at hand.

No more anger, fear, anxiety, worry, happiness, peace, or joy.

No more to think about and nothing to feel.

The spectacle is your life's blood.

 

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you! The iconic light moves and speaks.

At first you laughed and cried, now there's nothing.

All your emotions and thoughts have leveled.

After hours of viewing, you're fulfilled, yet empty.

You've stopped seeing relatives, friends, and neighbors.

When you do visit, the cathode ray tube dominates.

No one dares speak for fear of disrupting concentration.

Commercial breaks are undeniable, irresistable.

You complain about them, yet recite their narratives.

You walk away, only to return singing their jingles.

You indulge in their cars, cigarettes, and gasoline like candy.

Your fashion statement is their sneakers, beverages, sex, and violence.

 

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you! As its light directs your eyes, you enjoy being interrogated.

As gaze returns gaze, you're seduced by its arrogance.

You sit passively, watching, listening, acquiescing to its demands.

As it placates, you no longer confront your problems or work them out.

You're part of a family, but everyone seems a stranger.

You merely inhabit the same time and space.

You are present, yet absent.

You join in, but feel alone.

You're spoken to, but rarely speak.

When you do, you never make eye contact.

Your eyes are glazed over.

Your eyelids are dried in their sockets.

You look, but see nothing.

 

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you! MTV, Court TV, Church TV, The Late Night Show.

Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, .

Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Wrestling.

Chicago Hope, ER, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Seinfeld, Ellen, Frazer.

Oprah, Sally Jesse Raphael, Jerry Springer.

The six o'clock news, CNN, The Food Channel, the Weather Channel.

Nike, Coke, Pepsi, Nissan, Toyota, AT&T, Rotorooter.

More than you need to sustain yourself, everything to indulge your desires.

You consume heaps of culture, but your production is immobilized.

You witness, but give no testimony.

You see it all, but say nothing.

You read, but can't grasp anything.

 

Hey!

Hey you!

Hey there!

Hey!

Yah, you!

I'm talking to you! Are you object or are you subject; are you spectacle or spectator?

Is what you're looking at, what you see?

You are marked, yet you're uncertain of your identity.

The weight bears down on your back, yet you feel no burden.

You are not a specimen, you are not a corpse.

Hey! Your body's here, you can speak.

Hey you! Your body's here, you can gesture.

Hey there! Your body's here, you can make sounds.

Hey! Your body's here, you can see.

Yah, you! Your body's here.

I'm talking to you! Your body's here.

Hey! Your body's here; yah, your body's here.

Your body's here, your body's here, your body's here

You body seer, you body seer, you body seer,

You brought us here, you brought us here, you brought us here

You bought us here, you bought us here, you bought us here...

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© Charles Garoian 2005