Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pet Philosophers (Script from 2008)

This is a mockumentary I wrote in 2008 for a Grade 12 Directing and Scriptwriting class. It takes place in a world where people keep philosophers as pets.

1: Jennifer Fontaine interview


Tell us who you are, and a little bit about yourself.

I’m Jennifer Fontaine, and I own two philosophers.  My children have gone off to college and my husband has passed on, so it’s nice to have something around to take care of.

Tell us a little bit about your philosophers.

The older one is Nietzsche… is that right?  I’ve never been able to pronounce it correctly, so we just call him Nee-Nee.  My younger one is called Sartre.  He and Nee-Nee get along fine, but you know, Nee-Nee’s getting on in years, and I think he’s had a good life, so I think it’s time to put him to sleep.

How has the “Cognitive Critters” phenomenon affected your life, postively or negatively?

It’s always nice to have around something to take care of.  Ever since my children have gone off to college and Harold passed away, I guess you could say having these little guys around has filled a part of that… void, in my life.  I know it sounds a bit silly, I’m sorry.

Now, you say that one of your philosophers is getting old and you want to put it to sleep.  What is the process for putting a philosopher to sleep?

The book is upstairs, but I’ll see if I can paraphrase it.  Basically, you feed the philosopher until it’s so full and satisfied that it’s too stuffed to care about anything.  Then, I will take Nee-Nee into a quiet spot outdoors, and shoot him.

Now that you’re putting your philosopher to sleep, how do you feel about it?

I sometimes get a bit choked up about it… you may need to excuse me a moment… but I’ve come to terms with it.  I think it’s time.  I mean, Nee-Nee’s getting old and senile.  To be honest, I don’t really understand what he says anymore.  Yes, it’s definitely time to let him go.

What do you have to say to people who think of putting a philosopher to sleep as “cruel”?

To be honest, I’m not sure it’s up to me to decide what’s right and wrong.  But the Cognitive Critters handbook says it’s okay, and let’s be honest, it’s better to be dead than to live in misery, in a senile, unwanted state.

2: Dr. Mark Hoffman Interview


Before we go on, would you please tell the audience a little bit about yourself and your business, in summary?

I’m Dr. Mark Hoffman, PhD, and I founded the company, “Cognitive Critters”.  I breed philosophers and see them adopted into loving families.

How did this whole idea start?

I’d just gotten my degree as a veterinarian, and, of course, I had to write papers, so I dealt a lot with the academics at my university.  I noticed that there were a lot of philosophers running around, unable to fend for themselves in this difficult world, and I decided that if someone wasn’t going to try to give them a home, they just wouldn’t survive.  So, I took a few into, and kept them.  Over the next few months, I’d gotten quite a few, and obviously, I couldn’t keep them all, so I got some of my friends and family members to take them off my hands.  And that’s how this whole phenomenon got started.

At what point did you know your idea was going to be a success?

I’d have to say it was my first appearance on “The Susan Show”.  You know, it’s a show that I’ve always respected for keeping with the times, while also maintaining its social messages.  I went on the show, with my book, of course, and it was at that point that I realized that the phenomenon had become a nationwide, uh, thing.

How do you respond to critics like Roger LaMarche, who describe your success as being just a passing fad?

Ah, yes, Mr. LaMarche.  I’ve read his articles.  I think it’s more than just a fad, and I think Mr. LaMarche should see the faces on the people who take the philosophers into their homes.  It’s just a beautiful thing.  You can’t put a price on that.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of getting a philosopher for themselves or a family member?

All I can say is, buy my book.  No, seriously.  It’s a good book, it tells you all you need to know about caring for a philosopher.  You know, feeding, sleeping, that sort of thing.  And you have to keep in mind, a philosopher is a living creature, so it’s important to remember that it’s a big responsibility to take care of one.

Would you show us a philosopher in his natural habitat?

Okay, well, I have two philosophers of my own.  One’s named Kant, the other’s named Hegel.  This is Kant here.  Say hello, Kant.  Okay, he’s a bit shy, isn’t he adorable?  Well, not all philosophers are alike.  Some of them don’t get along with each other.  Kant and Hegel sometimes get into little scraps, occasionally.  It’s just a matter of tearing them apart before it gets too out of hand.

Do you have any final words for the audience?

Having a philosopher around is something that can enrich your life.  It’s not just a pet.  It’s like having a friend around.

3: Roger LaMarche Interview


Before the interview, tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Okay.  I’m Roger LaMarche, critic for the Enlightener magazine.  My job is to look at culture, and tell people exactly why it’s wrong.  I’ve been working at the magazine for fifteen years or so.

You’ve been keeping up with this fad since the beginning.  How have philosophers as pets swept the nation?

It’s your classic story. Mark Hoffman, he’s the alleged “doctor” behind Cognitive Critters.  He noticed that there were a lot of philosophers around, basically serving no purpose in nature.  But he wants to make a quick buck, so he figures he takes a few, breeds them, and sells them as pets.  Next thing you know, he’s on “Susan”.  Well, you know how it works, a guy goes onto this show, promotes his book and his business, everyone buys it even though they don’t understand it.

Although I’m sure your readers already know the answer to this question, would you mind telling the audience your opinion of the “Cognitive Critters” fad.

The “Cognitive Critters” fad?  Well, that’s all it is, just a fad.  It’ll pass, just you wait.  People will move on to the next big thing.  The “Cognitive Critters” phenomenon is a perfect example of idiotic, illogical, blind consumerism among the proletariat.

May I ask, why do you think so poorly of the fad?

Well, think about it.  People adopt these poor, dumb animals from their local Cognitive Critters center, and feed them and take care of them and whatever for a few years, no problem there.  But sooner or later, the creatures aren’t cute anymore.  People might as well just be flushing them down the toilet like baby turtles and alligators.  They either put the philosophers to sleep, or worse, just let them go and have them roaming the streets.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want these creatures in my backyard.  It seems kinder to just kill them, put them out of their misery.

Do you have any final words for the audience?

Don’t buy into propoganda.  Don’t think that you suddenly have to take care of a philosopher just because everyone else is doing it.  They’re useless animals.  I know people don’t like to hear it, but that’s what they are, and you’re not helping anyone by trying to prove any other possibility.


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It Seemed Funny at the Time by Ben Buckley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada License.