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Posted by Patrick Macias on


Story by Patrick Macias

Stage 2: Meet You in the Shadows

Mary had seen stills of lifelike CGI models used in brand campaigns before, but never in full-motion video. Now, a V.M. had taken her job. The last few weeks of Mary’s life had been blow after blow, setback after setback. She could sense the future constricting around her, being swallowed up by indignation, outrage, anger, and loss. It had to stop somewhere.

When Mary got back to her apartment, she started a chat groups with the remaining foreign models. They agreed being replaced by fakes and computers was a bad thing, especially now, but what could they do? Like her, they were stuck in Tokyo and just wanted to play it safe until they could get home.

So, Mary reached out to practically everyone she knew from her previous trips to Japan, which wasn’t a lot of folks; just kids from parties and random people she’d met at live shows.

Shozo, a drummer in a punk rock band who did some modeling on the side, agreed to help Mary with her plan, whatever it wound up being. Maybe he was doing it just to hit on her? She’d have to take the risk. But it turned out he was dead serious and wanted to do something dangerous. He’d just lost his job working at a karaoke parlor and felt he had nothing to lose. Mary and Shozo started to share videos of protests and riots in Hong Kong with each other for inspiration. The plan they came up with wasn’t going to be anything on that scale, but it was fun to think it might be.

It was partially a joke between them. It got more serious the more it went on. Either way, Mary thought they needed a symbol of some kind to stand for their cause. She came up with the slogan “RM vs VM” which stood for “Real Models vs. Virtual Models”. Shozo found an artist to design an “RM vs VM” logo in the colors she wanted, green and red, and Mary used it on new SNS accounts she created.

About five days later, they were finally ready. Mary messaged everyone she knew to come to Harajuku at the specific date and time; to protest and participate, or just film the event from afar if nothing else. There were no positive replies. She counted four maybes. It would have to do.


Saturday night in Harajuku. Mary found herself alone across from SIF building, and that fucking video huge screen of the V.M. that would not stop. Until now. Mary was determined to make it stop.

And what would be the fallout? Arrest? Deportation? Maybe. But there was no reason to be here anymore. It just meant she would be sent back to St. Petersburg faster.

8:50pm. SIF would close the store in ten minutes and turn off the video screens. Mary would have to take action alone, or just try again some other day, which was a depressing thought. But she was alone. Even Shozo had deserted her.

Just as she had given up, she saw him coming out from an alley between a crepe stand and the ABC Shoe Store, his bald head hidden under a black hood, taking big swinging steps in leather derby combat shoes. He carried a shopping bag. As soon as she was in reach, he showed Mary: inside was a stainless-steel bat with handwritten slogans he’d written on it. She was so happy she gave Shozo an immense hug.

Neither of them had touched another person in what felt like forever. It was awkward for a moment.





Patrick Macias

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