The Guillotine Channel

Isolate a person like me from society for a month, and you'll see a descent into morbid imaginings. Lately, I've been considering the idea of a guillotine channel. It would consist of a weekly or daily animated feature that culminates in an execution. Regular beheadings, hangings, drawings, quarterings, dunkings, and even electrocutions would bring justice--altogether simulated--to the unpunished. Cartoon characters depicting real people, predators all, get what's coming to them.

Since Nixon escaped a fair accounting 40 years ago, we've known that the traditional heads-on-pikes era of political succession had drawn to a close. The pike-making industry had gone the way of horseshoe-nail manufacture, and finding a crew to erect a gallows could be nearly impossible in most communities. It's the social cost of technology, but even as anachronisitic industries are disappearing, new fields are opening up. Like animated cartooning, which has progressed to the point that even a talentless geek can now produce a movie. Why not use the technology in pursuit of retributive justice, even if it's not real? After all, there have been times when the execution of malfeasant authority figures was made a public spectacle; the guillotine channel would bring that back, but without any actual death or bloodshed.

A list of unpunished American felons might begin with the names of the last six presidents of the USA, along with their highest-ranking cabinet secretaries, aides and advisors. Imagine Hillary and Donald on the same bill, ascending the scaffold, dispensing with the traditional ladies-before-gentlemen convention for this one special occasion. Each episode would begin with man-on-the-street encounters involving made-up animated characters. As in dramatized depictions of public executions, there would be street buskers, food hawkers, pickpockets, ragamuffins, debaters and orators, rational and irrational, all assembled for that celebratory feeling we get when vengeance is ours.

As a visionary whose visions are all in the form of cartoons, I may be going out on a limb with this idea. It's not that the bloodshed will put people off. Reruns of "Gunsmoke" are aired daily, and violent retribution seems to be the predominant theme of life in Dodge City. Rather, my fear is that people will become bored. I have an abnormally low amusement threshhold. Things that hold my attention might not hold yours. I can run the guillotine channel in my own head without having the inflict it on anybody else, and that's probably what I ought to do. I may be ahead of my time, but, if so, it's only by a couple of weeks.