The terrifying dystopia of the ‘new normal’

Let’s hope that socially distanced strip clubs, politicians channelling Big Brother and fake crowds don’t last forever.

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Topics Politics UK USA World

We are constantly told that society will not return to normality any time soon – if indeed it ever will. Instead, we are supposed to get used to the ‘new normal’. If the following examples, amusing as they are depressing, are anything to go by, then that new normal will be utterly dystopian.

Drinking, dining and debauchery

A bar in Maryland in the US has invested in large, mobile discs, supported by trolleys, for customers to wear around themselves, allowing them to drink at a safe distance from each other.

Meanwhile, a cafe in Schwerin, Germany, distributes hats with children’s swimming floats attached to remind disobedient patrons not to stray too close to others.

In Oregon, USA a strip club found a way around the lockdown rules barring non-essential businesses by diversifying its offering. The club has transformed itself into a drive-thru eatery, which also happens to have mask-clad performers providing entertainment for drivers awaiting their food orders.

Crowd trouble

Many sporting fixtures will be played behind closed doors or in empty stadia, creating an eerily quiet atmosphere.

TV coverage of the NFL is set to feature artificial crowd noise to compensate for the absence of fans. This is ‘pretty much a done deal’, according to Fox Sports reporter Joe Buck. He also suggested images of crowds might be used to make the experience for TV viewers as close to the real thing as possible.

South Korean team FC Seoul has used an alternative approach, ‘accidentally’ placing sex dolls – seemingly socially distanced from one another – in the stands, in place of human supporters. The dolls were even equipped with masks to send the right message.

Similarly, the French version of the karaoke show Don’t Forget the Lyrics! has replaced its live studio audience with balloon mannequins, some of which have screens to beam in people’s faces from home.

Socially-distanced politics

Serbian president Aleksander Vucic held an online rally via Zoom, giving a speech surrounded by screens showing his applauding supporters.

The UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, was channelling Big Brother last month when he made an announcement via a giant screen beamed at socially distanced doctors and health workers. The staff were even formed in orderly lines to receive the wisdom pouring forth from Hancock’s supersized head.

The ‘new normal’ is starting to look like a living nightmare.

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