Posted at 19:30 on 7 Mar 2010 by Pandora / Blake
Here's a fantasy I'm never going to be able to film:
The setting is a far-future space station, mining ship or similar; something long-term enough to have families on board. We're in a darkened, sparse room, a bit like a lab or amphitheatre, stark and impersonal. There's a spotlight falling on a high-tech spanking machine, all brushed chrome and flickering LEDs. Screens display readouts of the vital signs and brain activity of the teenager who is strapped in place on the machine. The spanking is administered by two perspex or fibreglass paddles, one on each side, moving up and down small amounts to vary the aim as they alternate strokes.
Most discipline on the ship is done the usual way - pain-free behaviour modifying implants or rewiring, software downloaded into the brain which facilitates personality changes. However, a small minority of miscreants reject the modern options in favour of "conscious reprogramming". Usually they cite outmoded free will or personal integrity arguments, but the ship is a liberal environment which does not discourage freedom of expression, and is happy to provide an alternate option to the usual treatment for misbehaviour.
Conscious reprogramming involves corporal treatment that is carefully scientifically calibrated to wear down the subject's will to misbehave. It is a more long-winded process than the far neater neural alternatives, but some prefer to remain conscious during the rewiring process. By the end of the treatment the result is the same dampening of ego and will to rebel, but achieved through the far more archaic application of physical stimulus.
When the treatment begins, the teenager's attitude is resigned, angry, distanced. She has clearly been here before. Over time, however, the machine's effect is inevitable; and when the designated number of strokes have been applied at the force and pace calculated for maximum effect on this particular individual, she hangs limp in the machine, all arrogance and resistance effectively dispersed.
It's clear that the treatment works. However, adolescence is a traumatic time, and she keeps on breaking the rules of behaviour defined for her environment - and every time, rather than accepting the quick and painless neural treatment, she opts for conscious reprogramming. She claims it is because she values her mental independence. But she's a smart girl - surely it would be easier just to moderate her behaviour in the first place?
Still, the system operates smoothly, and is perfectly able to accommodate the eccentric choices of adolescents as many times as necessary.