It is five years in the future. Instead of having awards shows, once a year the world’s most courageous actors are brought to the White House and given medals for their bravery. President Michelle Obama presides over this year’s ceremony.
“For portraying an overt racist while not being an overt racist in his everyday personal life, the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
“For gaining five pounds for a role, female, the Purple Heart.”
“For losing forty-eight pounds for a role, male, four Purple Hearts.”
“For being willing to appear onscreen looking like a middle-aged woman, the Medal of Merit.”
“For portraying someone who is poor, the Medal of Valor.”
“Thank you,” the actress murmurs gracefully, eyes downcast. The President stops. “Your performance was so brave,” she says. “So brave and so honest.”
A whisper ripples through the crowd. Honesty is almost as good as bravery. An honest performance is good. A brave performance is better. An honest and a brave performance comes along but once in a generation.
“So honest and so brave,” the President continues. “Where did you find the strength?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” the actress says modestly. “Here and there, I suppose.”
“It was tremendous,” the President says, “how you pretended to be someone who wasn’t you, while still secretly being you the whole time.”
“That’s my job,” the actress says. “My secret was, I imagined what it would be like to be poor, and then I acted that way,” and the President moves down the line.
“For playing a singer who is now dead, the Congressional Silver Medal.”
“For pretending to die onscreen, the Congressional Gold Medal.”
The President stops again. “Normally you’re very good-looking,” she says to the actor in front of her. “But in this particular role, you did something weird with your face.”
“That’s right,” he says, smiling good-lookingly.
“For doing something weird to your face,” she says, eyes brimming with tears, “I award you the FBI Shield of Bravery.”
“For doing a great deal of drugs in the past, but no longer doing drugs now and instead appearing in popular, edgy comedies, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.”
Everyone applauds, everyone in the whole world, even you.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.