Meme Culture
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Act II - Scene III

Interior of the conference room. Crystal-INE, Henry, Evelyn, and Chandler are sitting in their seats, staring at Michael's spot, which is empty. In its place is a phonebox with the phone laying face up. We hear Michael's voice coming out of the phone.

As the conversation progresses, Henry is seemingly focused on something unrelated, though it is unclear what. He stares at his hands and mimes flipping through documents, though he is not actually holding any.

MICHAEL
Alright, did we make sure the hornets were fed this time?

CHANDLER
Yes.

MICHAEL
Good. I'm sorry again that I can't be there, O5's completely swamped with this North Korea thing so Laura gave me a bunch of organizational tasks and now I'm temporarily overseeing containment of some ancient deity, something called Kor… Korothile Limagnar?

CHANDLER
(chandler's face lights up)
Korothyl Li'imangar?

MICHAEL
(surprised)
Oh, taken an interest in the Razhilkan mythos, Chandler?

CHANDLER
Yeah I'm actually doing some research on it, where did you say the deity was being held?

MICHAEL
Uhh… Just check with Crystal-INE later, we need to focus on this right now. Well, you need to focus on this right now… I need to get back to my overflow so I'm leaving Evelyn in charge.

EVELYN
Wait, me?

MICHAEL
Yes… you have the highest clearance of anyone else, I thought it would make sense.

EVELYN
Oh, no no no, my clearance is only like that because dealing with temporal anomalies grants you access to all the other files in the site, since it's such a precise science. I'm no more experienced than anyone else here.

MICHAEL
You can still be in charge, it's not really dependent on clearance level.

EVELYN
Sorry, I just don't see myself being able to run the Shuffle Puppies.

MICHAEL
The what?

EVELYN
We're the Shuffle Puppies, that's our team name.

MICHAEL
(sighing)
Oh, right… well… okay then…

CHANDLER
I could run the group, Michael.

MICHAEL
How… uhhh… how about you, Henry?


Henry mimics putting down a stack of papers and looks at the phone.

HENRY
Oh, actually, I'm not here right now. I'm in my office at the moment.

MICHAEL
What?

EVELYN
Henry's using that hologram thing Jazz was working on a few months ago so he can be at the meeting while still being in his office.

HENRY
Just don't try to touch me, we all know how well that went last time this thing was tested.

EVELYN
Poor Romano never could grow hair in that spot again.

MICHAEL
Wait, so then why aren't you physically there, Henry?

HENRY
(holding up the invisible stack of papers)
Laura also gave me some of her overflow, it seems. I'm redistributing the encryptions for all the Keter passcodes. Actually, coincidentally, I think this one goes to that Korath guy of yours.


Chandler perks up immediately.

CHANDLER
What is it?

HENRY
Aha, sorry bud, I shouldn't talk about this stuff remotely. Anyways, I'll be listening in, just pretend I'm actually here.


Henry goes back to flipping through the non-existent papers.

MICHAEL
Well then…

CHANDLER
Michael? Michael, I can run the team.

MICHAEL
I… I suppose since Evelyn is unwilling, Henry is unavailable, and Crystal-INE is-

CRYSTAL-INE
A computer-

MICHAEL
That yes, you can be the team leader, Chandler.

CHANDLER
Awesome! Does… does that come with any clearance changes? Maybe increased privileges in-

MICHAEL
Oh goodness no, it's just an informal title for this meeting. Speaking of which, I really have to get back to this, but please find some way to deal with this situation, because the public hates us right now. Good luck.


A mechanical click is heard, after which Evelyn grabs the phone and places it into the phone box.

CHANDLER
Alrighty then… let's put our noggins together and come up with some plans…


The group awkwardly stares at each other and down at the table. Chandler appears deep in… something. Thought, maybe, but his face contorts into many shapes and expressions that are impossible to read as a whole. After about ten seconds of this, he nods in approval to himself and looks up at the group.

CHANDLER
I've got it.

EVELYN
(skeptical)
Already? What is it?

CHANDLER
The public is at our throats right now, right? They're looking for answers.

EVELYN
Answers about the North Korea incident, yeah-

CHANDLER
No, no, no, not the North Korea incident, everybody's moved on from that at this point.

HENRY
(looking up from invisible papers, concerned)
Chandler, with all due respect, I don't think that's true at all.

CHANDLER
Trust me, I know, it's all over social media. Everybody's mad because of the D-Class stuff.

EVELYN
I mean, yeah, but I think the North Korea thing is way more pressing, and-

CHANDLER
Just… just wait. Hear me out, okay?


Both Evelyn and Henry back down and look at Chandler, awaiting his idea.

CHANDLER
So essentially-

CRYSTAL-INE
Wait, Chandler, do you want me to record this?

CHANDLER
Have you not been recording this meeting?

CRYSTAL-INE
My services are being scoured at the moment for old data on dimensional anomalies, I'm afraid my consciousness is somewhat… fractured. So I'm trying to conserve energy where I can, it helps me focus on searching for files.

CHANDLER
… Yes. I would like you to record this part.

CRYSTAL-INE
Okay… ready.

CHANDLER
I think, in order to dispel rumors and even get the public on our side, we need to convince the most vocal group. The ones who are the most likely to cause actual social change.

EVELYN
So, like what, college students and activists?

CHANDLER
Children.

HENRY
Children?

EVELYN
(nervous chuckling)
Chandler… I'm not sure if kids are going to be the most likely people to sway the public opin-

CHANDLER
Think bigger picture. We want to leave a lasting impression and set a really firm foothold in the minds of this generation. If we can appeal to a younger demographic, then in five, ten, twenty years, we'll be living in a world where we can protect humanity unhindered, even aided by the people who are children now and will be adults then. I mean, let's face it, adults hate us and they're not going to change that. But children are malleable. They respond to memes and pop culture. And we can abuse that.

HENRY
This is all sounding a bit far-fetched to me, I don't really-

CHANDLER
No, no but here's the best part - it's really as easy as I'm making it seem. We just find out what the best, most popular memes are, incorporate them into a video that also explains the merits of the Foundation, and boom. They love us.

HENRY
Are you sure that won't just turn them even more against us? I feel like as adults with no real grasp on this whole meme culture, we'll be very obviously out of place and just seem pandery.

EVELYN
Look, my son loves memes and slang, but whenever I try to reference any of it, he calls me a "fellow kid". I'm pretty sure children know when we're bluffing.

CHANDLER
Hey, argue against it all you want, but I know this will work. And… Michael did put me in charge, so… we're going with it.

EVELYN

HENRY

EVELYN
(sighing)
I guess… I guess we could try it. You certainly seem passionate about the idea.

HENRY
Oh what the hell, why not. Crystal-INE, do a quick search and send me a list of the most popular memes we could use in our video.

CRYSTAL-INE
Should I prioritize any specific years, or…

CHANDLER
All of them, the more the merrier.

CRYSTAL-INE
Alright Dr. Ozid, I just emailed you a list, since you're in your office. Left out a few of them though, there was this weird one with hiding seven lines in normal images that I think might have been a cult thing.

HENRY
Perfect, I'll take a look.


Henry mimes opening a laptop and typing on it, as well as scrolling and clicking. He stares, confused, for a few seconds.

HENRY
(mumbling to himself)
What the hell is a "chungus"?

CHANDLER
Thank you Henry, and Crystal. You see? We can make this work! I'll start writing a draft and get it to you all so we can figure out plans for making it happen.
(standing up)
This is going to be great, you guys. I really have a good feeling about this!


Before anyone else can comment, Chandler walks offstage. Evelyn looks at Henry, concerned, and lets out a fake smile of skeptical hope, accompanied by a half-hearted shrug.

EVELYN
It will be fine… right?

HENRY
I… I sure hope he knows what he's doing.

EVELYN
Yeah…


The two sit in silence, their faces growing more and more concerned, until the lights black out a few seconds later.
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