Having won their last game, the American election, Russia is moving on to Game2: Winter. Set to premiere exclusively online next July and run through April 1, 2018, the 24/7 reality TV experience will chronicle 30 male and female contestants dropped in the middle of the Siberian wilderness. The weather? -40 degrees Celsius. The prize? $1.65 million. The bears? Abundant. Also, “everything is allowed” including “rape” and “murder,” according to show rules. Apparently, Westworld isn't just the prestige TV show you kept meaning to finish—it’s also our new reality!
If this premise sounds familiar, that’s because it’s more or less the dystopian YA series The Hunger Games—you’re welcome, kids. In a plot line that’s directly cribbed from the books, participants will be able to request specific items from viewers, who can donate to the cause via the Game2: Winter website. Speaking of dystopias, it’s hard not to draw a parallel between our reality TV president-elect and Russia’s latest big league entertainment idea. Donald Trump is a man who’s so attached to the medium of pseudo-reality that he’s controversially decided to remain an executive producer on Celebrity Apprentice, marking the first instance of an American president with financial ties to a reality TV show.
The television personality turned pussy-grabber turned leader of the free world has also maintained his ties to Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation. This brutal and repressive politician, who Madeleine Albright once called a “truly evil man,” will have a new designation under the Trump administration: Presidential BFF. Trump has pursued a one-sided bromance with Putin for years, opining that he is a stronger leader than President Obama, and insisting that he’s “doing a great job.” If praising a war criminal wasn’t enough, Trump also called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, essentially inviting a foreign power to intervene in an American election.
It’s chilling: a tyrant that our president-elect greatly admires has thus far permitted this heinous project. Granted, we don’t know how closely—if at all—President Trump will emulate Putin, but if his Twitter activity is any indication, we do know that he delights in the misery of others.
If nothing else, it’s plausible to imagine a show like Game2: Winter coming stateside in the not too distant future. One of our reality TV show president’s chief advisers, Stephen Bannon, has not only been cashing in on Seinfeld royalties for years, but the right-wing propagandist and godawful director also has a penchant for strange dystopian experiments. Bannon was the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility located in the mountains of Arizona. The project proposed to place eight individuals within a series of domed buildings where they would create a self-sustaining society, meant to approximate the experience of living in space. For an added dose of irony, Bannon refocused the original Biosphere experiment, shifting the mission from survival to planetary research. Essentially, the self-proclaimed “alt-right” puppeteer helmed a climate change study. Climate change may have fallen out of fashion with the new administration, but Bannon’s experience as a sci-fi overlord will be invaluable if Trump decides to produce a dystopian reality TV show from the White House.
The brainchild of 35-year-old “entrepreneur” Yevgeny Pyatkovsky, Game2: Winter is set to air in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic, courting a global market of insomniacs and psychopaths. In an interview last month, Pyatkovsky explained that all potential contestants have to sign waivers, which acknowledge that they could be raped or killed over the course of filming. He also confirmed that as of November 18, 32 people had already signed up to be stranded and tortured in the Siberian wilderness, including one American. So far, applicants include professional rescuers, dedicated travelers, entrepreneurs, photographers, jewelers and psychologists. Contestants have to be mentally sane—whatever that means in this context—and at least 18 years old. The lucky men and women who make it to Siberia will be armed with survival training skills, courtesy of Russia’s elite former GRU Spetsnaz operatives. They will be permitted knives, but no guns.
But don’t we live in a civil society, governed by laws? Great question. Technically, Siberia is under Russian jurisdiction, and subject to the laws of the Russian Federation, meaning that contestants can be arrested for committing televised crimes. “You must understand that the police will come and take you away,” the rules state. “We are on the territory of Russia, and obey the laws of the Russian Federation.”
If you choose to rape and/or murder a fellow contestant, your criminal activity will doubtlessly be captured by one of the 2,000 cameras planted throughout the Siberian forest. On the other hand, Siberia is a total schlep. According to Pyatkovsky, “It would still take about half an hour to reach the area where the show will take place by helicopter”—which seems to totally undermine the panic button that Pyatkovsky swears will be available to contestants in case of emergency.
In addition to being sane, one must pay $165K for the honor of entering this surreal octagon. Pyatkovsky believes that his show will attract “rich and risky” people, with a taste for adventure and bloodlust. You can also be selected to play via an online vote—a great gift for the sociopath who has everything, and/or the millionaire who’s sick of golf. “The show will absolutely extreme, there are no exceptions,” Pyatkovsky insisted. “There will be no doctors with the participants. If someone gets sick, wounded and realize that he/she cannot pass the test, the helicopter will take him/her away to the doctors. Then the participant will quit the game forever.”
If more than one contestant “survives”—aka chooses to stay in the game, and isn’t murdered—the prize will be shared between the victors. Of course, the real winner is the insatiable viewing public whose darkest urges have generated increasingly sick reality TV offerings. For everyone who’s convinced that the end is nigh, Game2: Winter is the perfect opportunity to dip your toes into the frozen waters of an anarchic dystopia, from the comfort of your government-surveilled laptop or tablet device.
Happy streaming, and may the odds be ever in your favor!