Holy crap, are we being invaded?! We saw the military trucks, two of them, at a distance, driving down Spring Mountain Road near the Strip. Soldiers were loaded in the back. Was there some sort of riot—like the politically profound uprising in Tucson after their basketball team lost? Or was there perhaps a violent incident on the Strip?
As we got closer, we noticed something: The soldiers in the back of the khaki Hummer were taking selfies. And although their jackets were camouflage, they wore jeans. Once we caught up with them, we realized that they were merely tourists—victims of the widespread G.I.-Joe-fantasy wars taking over the Valley. The objective of this battle is to attract every cash-dropping visitor to one of many new gun ranges, not just to shoot lethal weapons, but to buy an experience. This one could have been Battlefield Vegas’ $169.99 “Battle of El-Alamein Experience,” complete with the ride from the airport.
That’s what’s cool about 2014: You don’t have experiences; you stage them. Cell-cam in hand, you pay someone else to set up your borderline psychotic yet nearly ubiquitous fantasies for you. This isn’t 2012. You don’t wait around for life to bring you a war or arrest you for buying the services of a hooker, you make it happen. Kinda. In a consequence-less sort of way. It’s brilliantly amoral commerce, and it might even be considered high art, depending on who’s judging. And who’s judging? Everyone, anyone, no one, just you and your Instagram habit. It’s a panopticon.
This has long been Vegas’ thing, of course. You want to float through Venice on a gondola? We’ve got your Venetian experience right here. You want to stand atop the Eiffel Tower? We got your Paris experience right here. You want a stripper to pee in your lap? I’m sorry to say, yes, we’ve got your faux stripper peeing in your lap experience right here.
It’s true (as truth goes these days): For an undisclosed wad of cash, a company called Las Vegas the Game (slogan: “Blur fiction into reality”) will set up your night to include a stripper not-really-peeing but seeming-like-she’s-peeing on your friend’s lap. It’s called “The Bathroom Break” prank experience. #wut?
Better yet, if your fantasies are more of the homicidal variety, there’s the Two Day Urban Sniper Course offered for a limited time at the Las Vegas Pro Gun Club in Boulder City. For $749, former U.S. Navy SEAL and veteran Metro SWAT officer Charles Moser will disclose his training in “sniper weapons systems, scope optics selection and usage, basic ballistics, intermediate barriers, camouflage concealment, equipment selection and more”—basically, everything you need to know to hide in the bell tower and kill. But not really. Please don’t blur fiction into reality on this one … even though real ammo will be provided.
And in case that be-a-sniper sales pitch doesn’t get you fired up, go to SwatConceptsLV.com and read this come-on, which ditches reality and goes straight to blurring homicide with porn: “It’s dark. … All you can hear is the sound of your breath and the pounding of your heart. Your hands clench tighter around the slick, heavy weight of your weapon as you wait for further instructions. This is the moment you’ve trained for, sweated for, sacrificed for. There’s only one question left: Do you have what it takes?”
Why? Why?! By way of explaining the need for the everyday gun lover to have sniper training that doubles as soft porn, Moser, who shot and killed an armed man in the line of duty last month, says in the news release, “It’s my duty to help educate and train others who are interested in learning how to protect themselves.”
So I take another look at the Hummer carrying the tourists to the gun range. Soon, they’ll be armed and having a G.I. Joe experience. Some other poor schlep will be getting fake-peed on. Another group will be learning to shoot from urban hideouts. And I will be driving down the road, watching, having the eternal Am I Being Punked? experience.