Suzi stood on the edge of the Slop Drop stage. It had felt like nearly four years had passed since she last hosted the show that had given her the break into TV presenting she had never known she wanted. Her career had gone from strength to strength. As well as hosting two other Panicked Productions gunge shows, she had finally started presenting a local radio show, like she’d wanted to for as long as she could remember. Still, despite everything, a voice echoed in her mind.
“Welcome home, Sooz.”
The set looked very much as it always had – large industrial-style metal structures around the sides of the studio area, the now-iconic plush red couch and chair next to the massive doors, on the other side of which was some nightmarish machine intended to give at least one person a gungy humiliation. Apart from a couple of episodes, the Slop Drop didn’t usually gunge A-list celebrities. The audience never seemed to mind the relative obscurity of the gungees though (compared to the works of other production teams at least) – after all, more often than not they still covered a pretty young woman in sticky slop for everyone’s entertainment. Who could complain about that?
The studio lights blasted into life. The audience, once murmuring to itself now fell silent. The cameras rolled as the Suzi’s Slop Drop theme tune (a snappy upbeat rock instrumental in G major) blared through the PA. Suzi walked out, the heat from the lights beaming down on her exposed skin, and as always there was quite a lot of it. Tonight she was wearing a white dress with black lines on it that accentuated her all-natural curves. She was barefoot, as was rather usual for her. Despite the absence of shoes, she still looked radiant and elegant. Her light-brunette hair was straightened out and ran down her back to just above her bum, held back with a white barrette. Her emerald eyes seemed to glimmer, perhaps in part thanks to the fantastic work the make-up team had done around them. “Hello, and welcome to this special webisode of Suzi’s Slop Drop! I’m Suzi Harrison and as always, I’ve got two kinda famous-ish personalities waiting to argue why they should be spared a trip in my gunge machine!”
The crowed ooh-ed at the non-revelation that there would be a gunge machine involved.
“More on that later, though. Now, there are a few reasons that we’ve done this episode as the NoobTube Charity Streamathon. One of them is because we’re not doing a new series of Slop Drop any time soon. Another is because our guests tonight hold a special place in the hearts of the internet, and so rather than just broadcast to the British public, we’d go out to the world. So, welcome Britain, bienvenue le France, yōkoso Nihon, wilkommen Deutschland, howdy y’all America and however you say welcome to the rest of the world! Then of course, there are the wonderful charities that we’re raising money for.” Suzi took a breath. “So, let’s meet our first guest. She started out with a Kickstarter project looking at how the way media, particularly video games, portrays women and the damage it can do to society. Now she’s a figurehead in the war on internet trolls. Please welcome Anita Sarkeesian!”
As Suzi sat down on her chair, Anita walked on to the sound of applause. She waved to the audience, shook Suzi’s hand and sat on the couch, right at Suzi’s right and the camera’s left. “Welcome to the show, Anita. I imagine a lot of our viewers are familiar with Tropes vs. Women, but what are some of the subjects you’ve covered?”
“Oh, so much, and thank you so much for having me on here to talk about my work,” Anita says immediately. “I’ve talked about ‘women in refrigerators’, which is actually from comic books where a woman is killed off just to inspire a man’s quest for vengeance. I’ve done the ‘straw feminist’, which is what it implies – a strawman character who has quote-unquote ‘feminist’ beliefs that are there just for the writer to vent their frustrations at social justice advocates.”
“I can’t believe anyone would do such a thing!” Suzi gasps, slightly ironically.
Anita carries on, unfazed. “Oh, they do! We’ve also talked about the ‘Ms. Male’ character, where a character is introduced who’s supposed to be empowering because they’re like an existing male character, only a woman.”
“Ever talked about gunge?” Suzi asks. “I bet you’ve got all sorts of things to say about this show!”
“We haven’t before, but I’ve got plenty to say!” Anita nods. “When I found out about this show and others like it… Things like Get Your Own Back, Comeuppance, The Splosh Pit, The Ramp and so on, I just thought to myself that hang on… There are TV shows out there in this day and age which still think it’s okay to humiliate women for the sake of entertainment? And I dug deeper and found that Get Your Own Back was first around in the late 1980s, and there were other shows from then through to the early 2000s like it such as Noel’s House Party, Diggin’ It and Live & Kicking that would often gunge to humiliate women… and this was just in the UK, mind you! This demonstration of a patriarchal need to put women ‘in their place’ via ritual humiliation has gone on for decades, and this show is just the latest in a long line of iterations of that.”
Suzi raised an eyebrow. Clearly her “mandatory gunge training” had stuck with her as a lot of what Anita had said seemed contrary to what she knew. However, rather than argue it, she instead decided to ask a simple question. “So if you don’t like the premise of the show, why have you agreed to come on it?”
“Because I hate to admit it, but I did kind of enjoy seeing some of those people getting slimed! Sure, it is one of the most problematic things I have seen in a long time, but it was also pretty interesting. Plus, I know that your production company is one of the best for gender equality,” Anita explained. “I mean there’s yourself and Nicole Stevens as the faces, your new CEO Ivy Lundgren, your main engineer’s not only a woman but also an albino, and so many others I can’t even begin to count! When I got here I was just so stunned by how inclusive the place is!”
“Oh!” Suzi blushed. “I’m flattered that you like the company, I think?” She decided not to mention or even dwell on the fact the company was founded by a straight white man with a gunge fetish… who may have once been her headmaster. “So, back to the reason we’re here. You’re clearly here because you want to gunge someone. Who is it and why?”
“It’s a YouTuber called ‘shoe0nhead’. She makes videos that make fun of feminism even though as a woman, she would benefit from the equality and freedom that feminism would bring. She’s dangerous and problematic, and people like here are responsible for a lot of the harassment that feminists experience online.”
“Well, that’s a hell of an accusation! In fact, there are a lot of interesting discussion points raised there, and so in that spirit, let’s welcome our other guest. She’s a YouTuber who’s known for making videos criticising feminism and being quite funny while doing so. Ladies and gentlemen, shoe0nhead!” Suzi announces as the YouTuber enters. The crowd mostly applauds, but Anita and a handful of the audience members boo.
Shoe0nhead shakes Suzi’s hand and sits down. “Welcome to the show, erm… shoe? You have an actual name, don’t you?” the presenter asks.
“It’s June. Might be easier to call me that!” says the YouTuber as she sits down next to Anita, shuffling to the end of the couch in order to give herself a bit of space.
“Alright then, June! I take it there’s a lot you want to say about Anita’s claims,” Suzi asks.
June nods her head. “Yeah, and a lot of it’s stuff that’s in my videos. For example, ‘it’s about equality’… No. Women already have all the rights men have. Feminism at this point has become a toxic cult based on hating men and trying to be the most ‘progressive’ and oppressed.”
“But what about some of the stuff that’s not in your videos? Like, the claim that you’re encouraging people to harass Anita and people like her?” Suzi asks.
June shakes her head. “Not true. I don’t want my fans going out on like, Twitter and sending Anita or anyone else nasty messages. Like you said, my videos are critiques, and there are far more in-depth and serious ones out there than mine.”
“But you support GamerGate,” Anita says.
“Which has been proven not to be the hate group that you claim it to be!” June scoffs. “There was even a study carried out by Women, Action and the Media about it which proved that the vast majority of accounts associated with GamerGate don’t harass people.”
“Women, Action and the Media, huh? Nice acronym!” Suzi chuckled to herself. “That actually brings me to my next point. I’m kinda curious to see if you’ve got any kind of take on the whole gunge thing.”
June took a breath and started talking again. “Well like Anita, I kinda had to learn a bit about it too. Like we’ve always had slime on Nickelodeon in America, but that wasn’t usually like a ritual humiliation thing. It was always like, goofy fun, y’know? But, and I didn’t expect to say this but Anita’s right in that there’s been a bit of a female humiliation element in how you guys do it in Britain but there are also shows that gunge men, some of which go at about 50-50 or gunge men more than women.”
“So you don’t think gunge is a long-standing tradition used to humiliate women?” Suzi asked.
“Not exclusively and not in any way that’s like, a huge deal. Like I said, it just seems over-the-top and kinda wacky.”
Suzi sat back in her chair and chuckled to herself. “We’ll see about that if you have to face the gunge!” Her tone suddenly shifted back to serious. “I take it you’re both familiar with the rules, but I’ll remind the viewers anyway,” she said as she turned to face a nearby camera. “This is a show in three parts. Part one is what we just had now – I introduce the two possible gungees and they give their arguments, then we open the vote up to the viewers. Part two, I read a letter out where someone in the audience wants to gunge someone. I decide whether they should get the opportunity or whether they themselves should be gunged. It’s at this part that we show off the newest gunging machine. Part three, the vote closes and we will subject either June or Anita to one hell of a gunging.” She then looked over to the two women on the couch. “Any last comments, Anita?”
“Yes. Please, please vote for June. I’m trying to do good in the world and June’s opposing that. She deserves the slime!”
“And June, anything else you want to say?”
June nodded. “I’m not scared of losing or getting gooped or anything, but you know Anita will complain about anything. How about we actually give her something to complain about? Vote for her, not me!”
“Well, we’ll see who the audience has been listening to the most in half an hour. In the meantime, don’t forget to vote and donate!” With Suzi’s words, the lights went down on Suzi’s Slop Drop for the time being.
The Splosh Pit episode I did the pre-polls for is still in the works but right now, I want to get this out there. I get it, this is going to piss people off. That’s just what happens when you bring in any kind of ideological angle to a piece of fiction. If you find it offensive that this exists, tough. This is happening, and it is happening on my terms. All I hope is that you’ve actually read the story and are judging it based on the actual writing rather than my political/social opinions and outspoken nature.