The Newarks and Starlight Media Group
The Newarks are in many ways a very typical wealthy family from the Commonwealth of New England. They have large amounts of money, and there has been a Newark sitting in the Commonwealth senate more often than there hasn't. The closest comparison in the Petroleum Age was the Kennedy Dynasty ofÂ Massachusetts. The Newarks are the main owners of the Starlight Media Group, a multi-media company that produces a large amount of data and programming for Commonwealth networks and syndication.Â
It isn't common knowledge outside of conspiracy circles, but the matriarch of the Newarks, Christine Phillips-Newark was a technologies researcher in the Commonwealth Intelligence agency, the Honeyman Society. Christine was deeply involved in social engineering, subliminal messaging, and encoding signals to affect behaviour. The projects she worked on were expunged from Commonwealth databases, and a short time after that Starlight Media appeared in New Nuyork City. The switch from government researcher to media mogul occurred overnight, and traces of it were buried. Attempts by various groups to bring this up are quickly tossed out as the meaningless rants of fringe-historians and paranoia theorists.Â
Christine Phillips-Newark did indeed work on social engineering and manipulation of masses, specifically through media entertainment. If morals could be used in endutainment, then other things could be used as well. Biological and cerebral profiling were used to create information templates that were built into CogNet broadcasts, live HoloCasts and other datastreams produced by Starlight. These encouraged things that were valuable to the Commonwealth but were not politically or economically advantageous to current leadership of the Commonwealth. Common messages involved having unprotected sex to increase the birthrate, spending more money and being more economically active, and avoiding hardcore abusive drugs by indulging in softer more mainstream forms of mind alteration. While largely avoiding controversy, Starlight Media was indirectly responsible for a 14% increase in population growth over a 10 year period, over the previously anemic 0.25% growth before. Unfortunately, the lion's share of this increase in fecundity was born by teenage girls. An outside campaign curbed the rampant sexuality with instilled fears of sexual disease and disorders and generally moved a good deal of the frantic fornication into virtual outlets.
CEO Britta Newark
The granddaughter of Christine Phillips-Newark, Britta Newark is a savvy business woman, and has done a great deal of work maintaining the positive ethics of Starlight Media Group, as well as keeping the company largely independent of megacorp takeover. Britta is a statuesque platinum blonde, all the work of custom genetic tailoring. She does double duty, not just as the CEO of the company, but also as one of it's most valuable and visible icons: Astarte.Â
Astarte was the Canaanite goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. In her modern incarnation, she is a singing technopop performance artist. She has outlandish outfits,over the top make-up and makes many things that might be looked down on as beingÂ glamorous. Her songs are obliqueÂ referencesÂ to sexual exploration, societal deviance, and supporting the military. While many critics deride Astarte as being juvenile and crude, citing gauche music videos where she turns crippled veterans into chrome sporting sexual cyborgs and runs around in a mech with stylized breasts and a giant foam spraying 'crotch cannon'.Â
Stop Cybering and Fuck Me
Astarte's debut single extols the socially deviant virtues of physical sex, rather than virtual, digital, and android sex. Through the holocast, Astarte repeatedly engages in pantomime sexual acts with various non-sexual machines discarding all of them and instead favoring borderline pornographic encounters with real people. The holo moved the word 'fuck' into the mainstream and largely removed it's profane status. It now largely was recognized as meaning the physical act of sex, in contrast to electronic fornication.Â
Starlight Media and GemStar
Gemstar is the central LAISC (limited artificial intelligence super computer) that houses most of Starlight Media's CogNet services and manages it's datastreaming systems. Gemstar mimics the fashion sense of 1980s glam and hair metal rockstars. It largely appears female, but Gemstar is more correctly androgynous. GemStar is a hidden pillar of the Commonwealth of New England as is heavily involved in social engineering. There are cities and states where the birthrate of freeborn humans is either flat or in contraction as virtual and digital relationships have become increasingly common and rather than nuclear families, online families are more common. The Commonwealth has revitalized it's population base by exploiting teen rebellion tendencies. While this has the unfortunate side effect of high teenage pregnancy, it isn't considered as large a deal as societal norms have greatly changed, there is an extensive social support system (welfare state) and teenage pregnancy is seen as less offensive to some other solutions to the lagging population problem. The Commonwealth is one of the few states in the Atlantic Federation that doesn't employ extensive robotics or cloning programs.
An ode to the military, Sex Machines was an interactive holovid produced by Starlight and remains one of it's most popular. The holo depicts veterans returning from war, missing limbs and injured while a fetish dressed Astarte 'magically' heals them giving them chrome and gold cyborg limbs and replacement parts. The 'healed' veterans are now decidedly more awesome, and between going divine warrior on their enemies are treated to sexual favors from Astarte and her back up group, the Vaginoids. The holovid is seen as one of the most disgusting and exploitative bits of propaganda ever made, exploiting veterans, glorifying constant war, and turning women into sexual puppets.
What is All of This???Author's Note
Â The Newark family, Gemstar, and Starlight Entertainment are all shout outs to GEM! the mostly for girls rock cartoon from the 80s. This incarnation mixes the basic premise of Gem with the visual spectacle of Lady Gaga ramped up to 13/10 on the dial and then run through the naked breasts department at HBO. On the serious side, the character has the seriousness and gravitas of a powerful regional family, and associated wealth that isn't tied to the media enterprises. The initial inspiration for this piece was an article that detailed the number of laws routinely broken through the series run of Gem, and the list was impressive. Every member of the good guys was technically a felon, and the bad band members were multiple felons. How could this work outside of cartoons? In the Cosmic Era it would be presented as being entirely staged, social engineering, and basic entertainment. The populace, often ignorant of such things, sees Starlight and Astarte as counter-culture agents, while in truth they are working to a specific and pre-constructed goal.Â
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