The freeze shot was beautiful. Head back, hint of tears in her eyes, a satisfied smile. Looked like it came off a Hollywood movie screen, not footage from a war zone. It's strange where people with dreams turn up. The shot was too close to get any idea who she was. We knew who she was. She was one of the rebel leaders. This was their moment of triumph. We were there, halfway across the world, to witness it, the end of the war.
Over the next few weeks, the analysts tried to strip the victory from them. The extremists fell because they embraced the enemy, because they conquered lands to which they were not committed (they'd assumed the inhabitants would accept function as an overriding criteria), and which they were not willing to expend energy keeping up. Sure, they'd conquered most of the Aesthete nations, all that hadn't made deals with them before the fighting started, but did they really want to spend time administering Sadism? Did they want to deal with the internal problems of Beauty? Of course not. They had taken more than they wanted, and they'd embraced the moderate rebels as a chance to escape from the demands of responsibility.
Never mind that thousands of lives were lost as the extremists clung to power. Never mind the costs that the official hard-line position against Aesthetics had for the Functionalist heartland, where desperately needed contracts were being awarded to newly conquered nations. Never mind the rebels, mostly Aesthete children raised in Functionalist orphanages, who had battled long and hard to make the hard-liners admit that they had over-stepped their ambition, that, instead of attempting to subsume the Aesthete nations, they should have opened their borders, begun trade relations, and generally attempted a peaceful co-existence based on their commonalities instead of claiming those same commonalities as right-of-ownership.
The pundits would describe that woman as the leader of a secret plot by the conquered Aesthete nations, the head of a secret tactical force of children sent into the heart of functionalism to tear it down. When it became obvious that the extremists were not going to regain power, those same pundits began lauding the victory, recognising the efforts of these brave freedom fighters who had established a pan-design coalition, a country which restored the historic borders of both the Functionalist and Aesthete nations. It wasn't mentioned that almost everyone in this new block of countries was raised a functionalist, that the functionalist credos were deep in their psyches, the Aesthete provinces were home to those who believed aesthetics primary in consideration, the Functional provinces home to those who believed in the primacy of function.
The story died away, and the networks had no more reason to show the still shot of that woman's face. It was always good for ratings to show beauty, but eventually the effect wore away. There were other beautiful images that would bring ratings, there were other ways to sell commercial space.
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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1997