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 Post subject: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Well, the first of the three Charlie Brooker scripted Black Mirror programmes was as amusing, disturbing and bizarre as could have been expected! And it features a couple of great performances from Rory Kinnear and Lindsay Duncan!

It feels like a nice leap from the 'Big Brother-meets-Dawn of the Dead' Dead Set series - a couple of moments even felt as if they could were a call-back to that show (the disrespectful chatter in the television studio and the lowly, but intrepid, assistant trying to work her way up the media ranks; along with the totally deserted streets of the country during the broadcast).

I liked the way that the episode, for such a simple (and disgusting!) premise managed to cover a whole host of issues from the British public's love of youthful Royal Princesses (which also felt as if it could have also been referencing the President and kidnapped daughters relationship from Escape From L.A.!); what might happen if a public figure's 'enablers' or entourage started guding them forcefully into one particular direction; the internet and the news media being equated in having an amoral approach to information gathering, with different 'cells' being able to operate independently; the voluntary giving up of all privacy (or morality, or ethics) to social media; the idea of the marriages of public figures being put under strain but also, in the coda, becoming more of a empty pretence than they ever were. And the idea that the culture is in some horrible way getting the art that it deserves (and wants).

I also found it interesting that the head of the television news studio guiding the story looked a lot like a driven Sebastian Coe! (Maybe it was the tracksuit and cycling shorts that gave me that impression?).


I especially liked the scene at the abandoned school (there are lots of great locations - especially a beautiful use of the Millennium Bridge in one scene) where everyone thinks the Princess is being held to ransom, which the SWAT team and intrepid reporter enter from different points, both holding cameras to show either the PM (in a kind of subliminal call back to Obama and Hillary watching the Bin Laden footage) or the broadcaster’s team what is going on in 'real time'. Eventually both of these surrogates for larger groups end up clashing head on in a rather bloody Man Bites Dog moment.

Some other amusing moments:

"It's like Dogme 95"

The overhead tracking shot following the PM’s car to the ‘venue’

The Truman Show style groups representing ‘members of the general public’, and their reactions

“The Guardian is doing a live blog on it, as well as a think piece about the significance of the pig in popular culture”


I suppose that the National Anthem episode could be considered the result of smashing together Brass Eye-style satire, Call of Duty action sequences (in the SWAT scene), a porn star stand-in subplot (and the PMs eventual act) channelling A Serbian Film, and a fight against time that I could see being adapted into the most bizarre and transgressive season of 24 ever broadcast (would Dennis Haysbert’s President have gone through with the specified act if Jack Bauer could not have saved the Princess in time?)


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:09 pm 
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I had to watch it a second time. I'd kind of gone off Brooker a bit. As his profile has grown, his satire of the world he's grown more comfortable in, e.g. celebrity, the media, becomes a case of biting the hand that feeds him. That said, The National Anthem was uncomfortable, yet fascinating from start to finish. It's surreal, yet frighteningly real in places. Whether the remaining episodes can match The National Anthem, I don't know, but it's one of the television 'events' of 2011 - indeed a reflection of contemporary Britain, both in terms of politics, the media, social networking and technology, etc. Just with an added dash of bestiality.


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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:43 pm 
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It is also one of the few recent television programmes to fit in the advert breaks nicely (which was what led me to think of 24 where often the best part of the entire show were the cliffhanger sections leading into and out of the adverts!) - the first part outlines the situation, the second part details a possible resolution, and the lead into the final advert break totally dashes the PM's hopes for any escape.

I know what you mean about Brooker seeming to be too part of the world he is critiquing, after all the production company for Black Mirror, Dead Set and the Screenwipe/Newswipe programmes is Endemol, the producers of Big Brother! (Dead Set probably could never have been produced, down to using the same house and Davina McCall, without that connection). I get the same worrying feeling, as I do when watching something tamer like Harry Hill, that while I'm enjoying all the barbs at awful television that I am really just another cynically targeted audience demographic. I may be enjoying the silly clips from Pineapple Dance Studio, Coronation Street and the Chilcot commission from an ironic 'at-least-someone-else-thinks-this-is-ludicrous' perspective rather than an originally intended one, but I'm still watching the same rubbish, just repackaged into a more palatable form!

It feels like more of a symbiotic relationship rather than a simple raging against the hideous rubbish being broadcast, and indeed these programmes could be seen to be the safe form of releasing the pressure valve of annoyance at, for example, reality television, which in some ways ends up justifying reality television's reason for existence (or at least which allows similarly hideous programming to continue to justify their existence because they might end up producing some amusing criticism as an offshoot - see that recent John Lewis advert, for example).


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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:40 am 
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colinr0380 wrote:
I know what you mean about Brooker seeming to be too part of the world he is critiquing, after all the production company for Black Mirror, Dead Set and the Screenwipe/Newswipe programmes is Endemol, the producers of Big Brother! (Dead Set probably could never have been produced, down to using the same house and Davina McCall, without that connection). I get the same worrying feeling, as I do when watching something tamer like Harry Hill, that while I'm enjoying all the barbs at awful television that I am really just another cynically targeted audience demographic. I may be enjoying the silly clips from Pineapple Dance Studio, Coronation Street and the Chilcot commission from an ironic 'at-least-someone-else-thinks-this-is-ludicrous' perspective rather than an originally intended one, but I'm still watching the same rubbish, just repackaged into a more palatable form!

It feels like more of a symbiotic relationship rather than a simple raging against the hideous rubbish being broadcast, and indeed these programmes could be seen to be the safe form of releasing the pressure valve of annoyance at, for example, reality television, which in some ways ends up justifying reality television's reason for existence (or at least which allows similarly hideous programming to continue to justify their existence because they might end up producing some amusing criticism as an offshoot - see that recent John Lewis advert, for example).


Which turns out to be the main theme of the second episode, 15 Million Merits. I thought this was excellent too - for all the articles on the Guardian about the first episode not being particularly futuristic and too related to issues in the 'real world', this features a futuristic setting but is much more about contemporary situations: the demonisation of the plumper members of society as seen on any breakfast news report is taken to such an extent that they have become the new underclass (serfs and/or untouchables) and everyone else peddles to earn merits to spend on everything from toothpaste to the ticket to enter the one route out of bicycling hell - the obviously X Factor influenced Hot Shots (which itself takes the talent contest idea and pushes it towards the logical conclusion of getting porn producers involved. With the judges, for various reasons and with the use of a 'compliance' drug, ushering contestants who have come to perform into rather more upsetting performances). The bicycling sequences feel like some unholy combination of what might happen if the current trends of regular gym going and Wii-interactivity became compulsory in a 1984-esque way!

I liked the idea that the noble gesture of pushing someone into fulfilling the potential that you see in them (which may simply be in the eye of the beholder) ends up backfiring into prostituting and sullying their talent to some extent; and also that the main character is rather flawed in the way that he always convincingly botches the life-changing moments by falling prey to media manipulation. The idea of un-turnoffable (or turn offable only if you are willing to spend the merits to do so) reality and sex shows taking up entire walls of a tiny cubicle was also fascinating, with of course the inevitable happening as the girl turns up in the sex show while our lead character has no merits left to turn it off after having used it all to pay for the ticket which put her in that situation in the first place! (Is he more upset about seeing her in that situation, or of not being able to block the performance out and pretend that it is not happening?)

Then the final co-opting of our hero's anguish after he works to earn the merits to confront the judges on the show (an excellent sequence showing him finally having a reason for cycling to earn that amount) and then is given a slot on the network to rant about the stupidity and futility of the society to the watching cycling masses is something which really feels as if it gets to the heart of the Brooker contradication noted by thirtyframesasecond above.

He is not happy, he has not changed society in any way by his actions (kind of being the anti-Harrison Bergeron in the sense of not going out in an undermining albeit futile blaze of glory!), the girl he was infatuated with is gone, and everyone else is still toiling away with the only possible escape being the talent show. And now he needs that literally captive audience too if he wants to keep his new lifestyle.

Even the materialistically happy ending is undercut. Sure he has a much bigger room now (with a tiny cube set in the corner to broadcast from), real orange juice to drink and an enormous view out across an unspoilt jungle to look at, but even that final shot suggests that while the illusion of space is more convincing, he is still looking at a projection rather than the real thing.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:41 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:39 pm 
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Last night's was great. You can read a lot into Brooker's state of mind, with him as the Bing character, railing against the lowest common denominator popular culture, whilst finally being co-opted into it. Despite being set in an alternative dystopian present/future, it's frightening how many parallels you could draw from it. And the futility of Bing's last stand, the way Rupert Everett, sporting the weirdest Australian accent since Robert Downey Jr in Natural Born Killers, uses his single Cowell-esque hyperbole to crush his dissent, was devastating. And it's true, at the end all he's gained is a more comfortable form of imprisonment. The supporting 'drones' were interesting too; the aggressive guy watching low-brow humilation shows/pornography, the apps obsessed ginger guy who seemed to go along with whatever hysteria was being whipped up, the passive girl who saw the idiocy of everything but cycled free from advertising because that's all she could do. On the back of this, I read The Machine Stops by Forster earlier, which someone suggested as a reference point, as well as Network et al. I had my doubts about this and Brooker, but it's become one of the must-see TV shows of the year for me (along with the Australian series of 'The Slap' and Mark Cousins' 'The Story of Film').


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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:46 am
I seem to be the only person who really didn't like '15 million merits' (but I quite liked the first episode). My main gripe was how shallow/whimsical the 'human' elements of the story were... like the origami, the repeated motif of having to pick the apple out of the vending machine and the notion that a girl singing in a toilet cubicle was more 'real' than someone singing on a TV show. It just all made me think of a Sundance award nominee or something, that particular brand of whimsy. Brooker almost redeemed himself by lampooning his own profession, but ultimately it just seemed like he was showing contempt for his audience. The crude, pop culture laden cyncism of the episode as a whole didn't work for me either.


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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:00 pm 
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thirtyframesasecond wrote:
And the futility of Bing's last stand, the way Rupert Everett, sporting the weirdest Australian accent since Robert Downey Jr in Natural Born Killers, uses his single Cowell-esque hyperbole to crush his dissent, was devastating.

I particularly liked the way that Bing's big speech railing against the talent show is not an inspiring, call to arms speech but instead just devolves into shouting "Fuck you! Fuck you and your fucking show!" at the judges - very cathartic (!, as well as subliminally tying into many of Brooker's similar Screenwipe/Newswipe or newspaper column rants), but which also devastatingly shows that Bing is never going to be the orating hero who will buck the system through rhetoric.

And the wonderful shot of the judges just sitting impassively through the tirade, which left me with the growing feeling of futility during the rant that as soon as Bing stopped shouting at them then the balance of power would immediately and inevitably turn back in the favour of the judges again. All capped off with the (again, inevitable) selling out, which hurts more than Abi's semi-agreement to join the sex channel did, since Bing was acting without the influence of the compliance drink. (I also liked that, given the opportunity to stand before the judges with the shard of viewscreen glass, Bing chooses to hold it to his own neck rather than attack the judges with it - a nice twist suggesting how even at the worst, Bing does not ever seem to have considered this as an option)


Quote:
The supporting 'drones' were interesting too; the aggressive guy watching low-brow humilation shows/pornography, the apps obsessed ginger guy who seemed to go along with whatever hysteria was being whipped up, the passive girl who saw the idiocy of everything but cycled free from advertising because that's all she could do.

I loved the way that the subplot of the girl who was infatuated by Bing but then saw him going after Abi played out - I was afraid that it would follow a standard convention of her betraying them or handing the couple over to the authorities in some way due to her jealousy, but this turns out to be something that she never has to do because the tentative relationship between Bing and Abi self destructs anyway. Instead she watches, grumpy during Abi's song on the talent show, yet also the only character not to whoop with glee when Abi gets pushed by judge and public coercion into becoming a new addition to the porn producer's stable.

She also gets an ambiguous moment in the ending (which contrasts with the simpler aggressive guy still enjoying the shows and the ginger guy buying a piece of glass for his Mii avatar to hold against its throat in a consumerist echo emulation of Bing's action) - is she concentrating on the cycling as Bing had done in order to earn the merits to get on the show herself (if so for what purpose?), or is she just trying to focus on mindless activity to the point of cutting off all of the media chatter around her?

That's two out of three so far (hopefully that notion of this becoming a 'dark Twilight Zone' series may result in further episodes!) and I'm certainly looking forward to the final one now, all about replaying memories and instead of being written by Brooker is being tackled by Jessie Armstrong, one of the writers of the Peep Show series (i.e. the series which literally played out through the eyes of its main characters, which perhaps bodes well for a subjective, experiential story about memories!)


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:21 pm 
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The final episode of Black Mirror, "An Entire History of You", was also excellent, although it did fall into the difficult category of 'unlikeable people destroying their relationships' where you end up not really caring about any of the people involved!

It did seem like a dramatic, rather than comedic, version of the Peep Show idea, only here instead of just the audience seeing the footage recorded through the character's eyes, the characters themselves are able to throw it up on their flat screen TVs for the enjoyment of others. I liked the way that the new technology is leading to a total lack of privacy in every sphere of a person's life, which ties in with the other two episodes.

The main theme seems to be the way that these implanted memory chips keep allowing everyone to nitpick every conversation and meeting they have, to the extent of ruining the present as they are so concerned with past events and whether they can in some ways deal with them (that reminded me a little of the dream machine from Wender's Until The End Of The World film, where the final section shows the characters wandering around attached to the machines caught up in a cycle of solipsistic self-regard). It was a very uncomfortable film about bringing memories into the public domain and the right that this apparently gives others to see, change and manipulate them (the morality of being coerced into throwing up your appraisal meeting onto the screen so that your performance can be 'judged' by your friends at a party; or of plugging into your baby's memory chip after the babysitter has left to check up that she has treated it well while you were out), as well as of every memory being available meaning that nobody is ever finished with an experience, instead interrogating it endlessly with replays and Blade Runner-style zooms in order to find tiny details to use to prolong an argument.

It also seemed about the problems of placing too much weight onto a memory rather than allowing the past to stay in the past, as well as suggesting that the best moments of life may be memories that have faded or changed in the remembrance, which get lost once they are able to be immediately played back in all their HD clarity (The programme also has the best scene of a couple having sex while totally disconnected from their partner since Crash, as both partners are replaying a memory of a more vibrant sexual coupling whilst desultorily humping away in the present!)

However even when every memory is available in that seemingly totally 'infallible' way (to the extent of being used in security checks at airports, so gate officers are able to scroll through the last week to six months of your life before you board!), there are still arguments about what exactly that particular inflection meant, or why someone said a particular thing at a particular point, and so on! Meaning that a silly argument between a couple escalates into a vicious downward spiral of antagonism.

I was left with loads of questions after the episode, which must be a good thing! One thing that I think the programme missed out on was seeing how, after the violence that occurs, the justice system would respond. Would the memories of incidents from the perspectives of everyone involved be used in trials? Would there even still be trials with such infallible evidence at everyone's fingertips? Or instead of jurys would you need to bring in a group of film critics to unpick each the motivations of each 'character' in the 'film'? But I suppose that these questions would need to be tackled in a larger-scaled drama than this was aiming to be. It also felt like the technology in this episode was still so new it was in that period where people have adopted it in the first flush of excitement but have not yet realised just how much it will change them yet, and so have not adopted coping strategies or mores to deal with such intrusions.

Also what happens when your memory chip reaches its capacity, like a full iPod or TV recorder box? Do you start deleting the memories that you don't feel you need to keep as desperately as others, and how would that affect your disposition towards the rest of the memories that still remain? If you only remembered the wonderful, 'savable' bits would you be annoyed that the present was not as halcyon as the past?

Does the 'Memory grain' work in tandem with the normal memory functions, so that you can still remember things after deleting them, or does this implant supercede normal memory functions, so once you wipe it there is nothing left? The episode does not answer any of these questions, but it at least implicitly raises them, for which I am grateful!

I also liked the idea that, even as the main character is getting his fears of marital infidelity confirmed, he is watching playbacks of other people's memories (along with usurping someone else's memories that he forced them to delete) and storing his experience of seeing their images on his own implanted “Memory Grain” to keep endlessly troubling himself with over and over.

Which perhaps inevitably leads to the Pi-style ending of the main character choosing self-mutilation as the way to expunge his 'perfect' recollections (however couldn't he have just wiped them, as he had forced the ex-boyfriend to do earlier?)


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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:17 pm 
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It was a great conclusion to a terrific series, albeit arguably a far more grim scenario of how technology dictates our lives than the previous two episodes. You could almost immediately guess that one of the creators of Peep Show was the writer; in many ways the dialogue and set-up was similar, although with a complete absence of laughs. I suppose the technological themes were understated at the expense of the relationship-falling-apart element, though it was the technology that allowed arguments to be manipulated and extended. There's the part when Toby Kebbell's character tells Jodie Whittaker "sometimes you can be a right bitch", which she replays without the (arguably) pivotal "sometimes" to change the emphasis and make it sound far more damaging. The juxtaposition in the final scenes between the empty rooms and scenes in his memory that showed happier times in said rooms was neat, and the final ending was kind of as you'd imagine. Ultimately the question it poses is would life be better if we could recall every moment in our lives? And the answer's a resounding 'no'. I've been really impressed though - three great episodes about contemporary Britain and perhaps one of the near and frightening future.


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 Post subject: Re: TV of 2011
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:11 am 
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Thinking about the whole series of Black Mirror for the last couple of days, but particularly that final episode, has got me thinking that I might try tackling the work of Derrida again, since Deconstruction seems to be a concept which fits nicely into this series with the ideas of being both inside and out of a text and the issues of imposing a structure onto a concept whilst being inside the text itself and therefore being influenced by it.

I wonder what Derrida would have made of the modern social media age, with the public and private spaces merging together until any barriers between them become indistinguishable?


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:20 am 
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Series 2 is on its way


Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:21 pm 

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I'll be watching for sure, even if I didn't enjoy all of the episodes in the first series.


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:36 pm 
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2.1 Be Right Back

Quite a neat episode, kind of a high-tech version of a ghost story in its first half, as a woman is left alone in her partner's empty childhood home after he dies in an accident. Then it kind of morphs into a Frankenstein creation story, as the partner is patchworked imperfectly together from his online postings and videos (there is a wonderfully creepy moment as the woman is alone in her rural farmhouse with something upstairs. Plus, typical of mail order equipment, new technology always seems to come with an inadequate or non-existent manual to help you put it together correctly!). Finally it goes into similar territory as the home set section of A.I., as having a slightly wonky version of a human being hanging around the place becomes more of an irritation than a comfort! (I guess the partner's name being Ash is also a nod to Alien!)

It's quite impressive in the way that it manages the tone between being eerie (the voracious appetite for information that the 'program' possesses and the insidious way it asks for more, plus the big Facebook-esque unstated issue of the episode of whether you can actually 'unsubscribe' from the service and get your information back if it turns out you don't like it, or what is being done with it!) and funny (the replicant not really knowing about the couple's sex life because Ash didn't talk about that online, but has a standard humping routine from online porn that seems to be more satisfying than the original Ash's! Which is yet another small sign of the replicant's imperfect duplication), and the 'Edgar Allen Poe/Jane Eyre' coda is just perfect:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
with its call back both to what we do with possessions of people who have died, which turns out to be similar to what gets done with outdated technology or un-thought through impulse purchases! She's lucky that she has such an expansive loft to tuck everything away into!


EDIT: Bonus points for anyone who noticed the Werner Herzog boxset on the mantlepiece near the beginning of the episode!


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:23 am 

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colinr0380 wrote:
(I guess the partner's name being Ash is also a nod to Alien!)

Or maybe the myth of the Phoenix's self-regeneration from its own ashes.
colinr0380 wrote:
the 'Edgar Allen Poe/Jane Eyre' coda

Perhaps a nod to Dorian Gray too!

The main message I took away from the episode (perhaps because it just reinforced my pre-existing view) is how dull and unsatisfactory the digital world's sterile "perfection" can be, both physically and emotionally. The new, smooth-faced Ash may be mobile but otherwise he's like a wax replica of the real, bearded one. His wife misses his mole and is frustrated when he won't argue with her. It's kinda like the difference between watching your favourite film on a speckly celluloid print, with unique flaws and properties, that can break or even burn up without warning and a digitally scrubbed transfer that can be endlessly replicated...


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:01 am 
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It is a little like the 'Memory Grain' episode of the first season, where the moral of the story seems to be that while it might be terrible to lose a loved one it is better to allow the memory of them to fade into a fond remembrance rather than to constantly trouble yourself with going through all their online postings in an attempt to recreate or prolong them outside of your recollection.

You've got me wildly imagining with your Dorian Gray reference! Although presumably the replicant is never going to change! Which makes me wonder what will happen in the future - when the woman dies will the girl take him and stick him in her own attic as a piece of bric-a-brac? Could he be recycled (would a rubbish tip accept human waste?) or returned to the manufacturer for re-programming? Or could she forget about him, leaving him hidden in the attic forever, making me think of a strange melding of A.I. and Hider In The House!

2.2 White Bear

This is impossible to discuss without talking about the final section. Suffice to say that the first three quarters plays excitingly but rather blandly, as a woman wakes up to find a world full of people viewing each other through their mobile phones, and then begins to be hunted down by bloodthirsty butchers. She runs across a resistance band who describe most of the population of the world having been turned into mindless voyeurs by a signal from electronic screens with the few people who have not been affected either trying to destroy broadcasting towers or taking advantage of the situation by killing others for the silent army of viewers/recorders.

It is an interesting post-apocalyptic premise which kind of smashes together 28 Days Later (especially in the disoriented 'wake up' scene and the quick dispatch of the male member of the resistance group just as he is introduced. The meeting scene even takes place in a petrol station), The Hunger Games (the insatiable audience for violence), The Running Man (the various masked, goofy killers) and The Signal.

Then comes the final quarter:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Where the White Bear broadcasting tower turns out to be a TV studio where our heroine is strapped down in front of a baying audience, told that she has murdered a child with her boyfriend and has been sent to a punishment centre/warped "safari park" to play the role of the victim day after day, with her memory being wiped at the end of it, something which makes her digitally flickering memory flashes throughout the preceding episode finally make sense.

This final section really makes the episode something special, as it gets into a whole range of issues:

Is blanking the subject's memory a somewhat self-defeating measure? If a killer has had her memory of the crime almost totally obliterated by it being wiped at the end of each day, isn't that the polar opposite of what an organisation like this would want to be doing, which is to constantly torment with memories of the child that was murdered? Sure it 'de-fangs' a killer to allow them to be put on display and interact with the public, but as it plays at the moment, it seems that the initial crime does not matter any more. It could be any criminal act that the memory blanked person is being re-presented with, and tortured with the knowledge that they have committed, at the finale, and that raises questions about whether the crime is a real one, or one that has been lost in the mists of time. What happens, as in a Mary Bell or Myra Hindley case, where the victims and murderers are not allowed to slip into memory, and into peace, but are constantly being brought up by the media again and again as ultimate horrific boogeymen just to elicit the expected knee-jerk repulsed reaction from their audience towards child murderers. This final section of the episode plays like a hybrid version of Memento and M.

Is it right to remove a murderer's memory of their actions, so their part can be thrown back in their face at a later date? Does that turn this 'safari park' (where visitors are given an orientation lecture about not interfering in the narrative, instead to just stay back and film the action from a safe distance) into a torture centre? If a person has no memory left of their acts, can they take responsibility for committing them, or is the organisation in the process of creating and re-creating an 'innocent' person over and over again to destroy at the end of the day as they get paraded around the town square like an infinitely repeatable Wicker Man?

Does it matter that she is guilty or not, just that she 'acts' penitent for the paying public? Following that train of thought, do we really need a murderer to be tortured? Couldn't an actress be brought in instead to play that part in the same way that all the other parts are played by actors, except that at the end she couldn't get up and lark around with the public to show that she is OK. That might make sense if the system of punishment being seen to be done matters more than punishing a particular individual (and it would also help the final section to 'play' better as an actress could better and more satisfyingly play the pain and helplessness turning into horror, fear and bitter contrition for her crimes at the end for her audience than an unpredictable 'real' person could)

The episode itself also tackles something that The Brave One dealt with: recording video as a means to endlessly repeat an experience. Perhaps worse to consider is what will happen once a particular criminal has been 'used up' and everyone has visited the park and got their commemorative film of the experience. How often does the 'ride' need to be refreshed to keep attendance figures up? And would a horrific act need to be created for the purposes of the park if one were not readily available?

The biggest and most fascinating issue that gets raised during the 'day in the life of a criminal offender safari park' section that takes place during the end credits is the one of playing at corruption. That there are brief images of families going to the 'park' for a day out to see the animal uncaged and on the loose in a safe environment. That I think gets to the implicit condemnation of the episode - that people get so obsessed by horrific crimes and punishing criminals that it can be commoditised into an theme park experience, and that the idea of child murder is so ingrained in society that there is no shortage of paying patrons willing to expose and corrupt their own children by taking them to see 'justice' done. That the sheer need for retribution takes precedence over their children's innocence, and perhaps keeping the crime still constant and 'present' in people's minds means that the crime never ends, albeit perpetuated by state and media collusion rather than by the killer themselves.


This is also the second episode in a row where the narrative ends with the main character left with nothing to do but impotently scream their pain at an uncomprehending audience.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:05 pm 
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2.3 The Waldo Moment

This is really the first episode of the series that I wasn't totally wowed by, although I think that might be because I was never that into Nathan Barley-styled media twonk satire, which often seemed far too broadly done and consequently lost some of the horror of the boringly mundane ways that people can be total idiots.

The episode also felt like the first that was about a decade or so too late in the satirical points it was making relating to the popularity of 'famous for being famous' celebrities and the public's contempt for politicians. The premise is that a foul-mouthed animated blue bear is such a success at tearing politicians down a peg on his sketch show segments that the character and his creator get pushed into running in the election itself, at first in order to just increase exposure for the character but eventually the cartoon bear becomes a "mascot for the disenfranchised" and its influence grows beyond any one person's control (kind of like a political version of S1M0NE).

I think this would have been an excellent and extremely timely episode were it to have aired back in the early 2000s during the height of Ali G fever. Most of the early section of the episode (especially the faux street-patois that gets used for the voice of Waldo and his start as a successful segment of a bigger sketch show), feels as if it is the ultimate comment on and condemnation of the unthinking adulation for Sacha Baron Cohen's characters and what their aggressively dumb, aiming for the easiest silly gag or knob joke based interview segments did to destroy intellectual debate on UK television. Unfortunately, coming about six or seven years after Ali G was at his height, it feels a little too quaint - it feels as if the country has moved long past caring any more.

Similarly the sections dealing with politics feel much too naive. The idea that the presence of a cartoon bear could derail sensible political debate is kind of facile when real politicians duirng election season prove themselves more than capable of childish behaviour anyway. Similarly the fears that a cartoon character might suddenly turn politics into a circus also seems not to get the point that it already has become that. There is also the rather touching sense that the Conservatives are all toffs and the Labourites are careerists (while the Lib Dems get a throwaway cursory mention in line with their 'Third Party' status), which feels like a point of view of a decade or more ago, before it became obvious to anyone even on the outside of the political bubble that those distinctions have long since been completely and irrevocably blurred. In particular the point about the bear splitting the liberal vote between the 'disenfranchised' and the Labour core and assuring the Conservatives of an easy win would have seemed totally deluded even during the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown era (New Labour having taken on many of the characteristics of the Conservatives in order to get into power), let alone the era post the 2010 election where we have a coalition between seemingly ideologically opposed Conservatives and Lib Dems who have now just ended up blurring together into one amorphous ruling lump of buck passing governance.

The best idea of the episode was that this cartoon bear is just a more technological animatronic puppet and because of that the bear is amoral, ready and willing to spout the words and rhetoric of whoever is behind the controls at any particular time. I get the impression that one day he could be spouting abuse at Conservatives for being upper class twits, and then the next day throwing out BNP statements about uncontrolled immigration, and so on. That gets touched upon in the final moments of the episode as the voice behind the bear quits only for his boss to immediately jump into the Waldo's shoes and get the crowd of onlookers to turn on him as he tries to warn then against listening to Waldo.

While I was not hugely impressed with the ideas behind the episode I did like the idea that the man behind the bear finally seemed to start to find a way of expressing his own voice in the 'Question Time' debate (in a nice touch losing the street-accent as he becomes more sincerely angry), yet in a horrible twist that was the moment he (or rather Waldo the bear) was more successful than he ever had been and immediately got noticed by bosses and co-opted into having to do what they want Waldo to do. The slight autonomy that he had with the character due to being below the radar is immediately lost. While the public is still riding high on a newly found fascination with the character, perhaps without realising that their interest and excitement in finding someone prepared to speak (albeit foul mouthed!) truth to power has been instrumental in killing off that spark of life in the character, as managers get involved in guiding and sanitising the message. (I'm kind of reminded of the departure of Frankie Boyle from that Mock The Week show - Boyle had the perfect forum for transgressive statements on a BBC panel show (which just didn't seem that dangerous and provocative and instead just dumb and mean-spirited when he had full licence to say them in his Channel 4 and stage shows), but of course he became too dangerously popular and threatened to overbalance the format of the show to stay, and Mock The Week (or Boyle himself) has never been as interesting since)

This feels as if it is getting back into the same kind of territory as the "15 Million Merits" episode, as the figurehead gains kudos but loses his soul – the man behind the bear lashes out but even that gets folded into the conversation rather than standing aloofly apart from it. The trangresssions ever more pointless because everyone is taking them seriously rather than seeing them as an assault on the whole political process. You cannot be taken seriously in attacking a system, no matter how vehemently, when you are a part of it, which Waldo the bear was as soon as he was entered into the election. I would also like to think of it also as being kind of a statement about the way that politics sullies and co-opts everything that it touches. Even foul-mouthed cartoon bears aren’t immune!

“He doesn’t stand for anything”;“But at least he doesn’t pretend to”

I suppose that even though the concept is horrific there is a kind of point to it – at least with a fictional, totally manufactured candidate there is no chance of Waldo going off message or disgracing himself in his private life! The character belongs to the people in a totally complete way compared to politicians caught up in manoeuvring for position. And the episode, like many others of the series, does seem to take a very dim view of the 'general public', herding together like cattle, easily pleased and just waiting for a screen to tell them what to do.

The most frightening thing about the episode is that Waldo might be a ‘mascot for the disenfranchised’ but he’s still presuming to speak for everyone not represented by the three major parties. There is the suggestion that if you have the temerity to not want to vote Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem then a sweary cartoon blue bear is all that you deserve to have speaking for you. Which I think speaks volumes about the illusion of choice in elections (although again, I think that this will not exactly be a shockingly new idea to most people!)

The moments that I most liked came right at the end: the allusion to the incident where George Bush Jnr had that shoe thrown at him (with Waldo in this case offering a cash prize to the first person to hit the newly elected Conservative MP in the head with one!) And the flash forward to the vision of a brutal dystopian police state presided over by the bear (with his gurning face adorning the tail fins of fighter planes going off to fight the next war!)

So worth a watch but not quite of the standard of the other episodes. I think I got much a similar satirical point in half the time from that Kombat Opera episode parodying Question Time's celebrity guests, in which Kookie Bear did an emotional plea to "Say no to war!!"


Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:22 am 
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I've yet to see this - I will do later, but coincidentally it's broadcast as a stand-up comedian derails the Italian election, taking 1/4 of the vote.


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:57 pm 

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thirtyframesasecond wrote:
I've yet to see this - I will do later, but coincidentally it's broadcast as a stand-up comedian derails the Italian election, taking 1/4 of the vote.
Good point.
And in this week's Guardian column Brooker says this:
"A fortnight ago, Channel 4 broadcast a fanciful drama I'd written in which a young widow communicates with a piece of AI software that mimics her dead husband by trawling his social networking past and emulating his personality. No sooner had the credits rolled than people were pointing me in the direction of a company claiming to offer that very service."
His fantasies, though sometimes unoriginal, are disturbingly close to reality.


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:15 pm 
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Although the Italian elections are not really a great comparison as Beppe Grillo might have been a comedian by profession but appears to have run in the campaign for serious reasons, compared to the way the lead of this episode is extremely reluctantly pushed/blackmailed into taking his cartoon character into the election by his boss and co-workers (reminiscent of the way the PM was being guided by his entourage to his unforgettable liaison with a pig in the first episode "The National Anthem")

Perhaps the most amusingly appropriate moment was entirely outside of the drama itself - the sublimely ironic advert that cropped up during the commercial break that involved a cgi (and colour) Audrey Hepburn strolling around Italy (all backed by Moon River) in order to shill a chocolate bar!


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:24 pm 
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Upcoming feature length Christmas episode of Black Mirror

Quote:
Three interwoven stories will come together in the new film which Channel 4 says is “the most mind-bending Black Mirror yet”. The drama has not yet been cast.

Brooker said: "I always enjoy a good ghost story at Christmas, and I'm a sucker for the Amicus’ compendium horror movies of the 70s. Our aim is to create the Black Mirror equivalent of that."

Phil Clarke, Channel 4’s head of comedy, added: “I’m delighted that we have a Black Mirror Special this Christmas. Charlie Brooker has penned a dystopian future festive tale, that intertwines three stories to deliver a dramatic and thrilling twist. It’s satirical, comic, disturbing, and thought provoking. Not to be missed.”


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:44 pm 
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White Christmas was an excellent episode dealing with some very weighty themes inside a kind of Amicus anthology structure, with a linking structure reminiscent of something like Tales From The Crypt or Asylum, although these tales are much more in the technological drama territory than horror, although often just as bleak. In some ways the structure of recounting stories inside a wintery cabin reminded me of the framing scenes of Frankenstein too, which perhaps makes sense since the two protagonists (played by Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall) are revealed to be horrible monsters, but also tragic ones.

I particularly liked the way that the three seemingly unrelated stories interweaved with each other, leading into the multiple twist ending. The first story is perhaps the weakest one, as a situation of a shy guy being coached in the art of seduction by an online wingman steadily gets more and more twisted into something obscene and degrading as much to the 'seducer' as to the potential 'target', especially once the wider audience for the show is revealed. And this story does end with a brilliantly horrible, ironic moral comeuppance twist that is straight out of an EC comic!
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I was wrong in thinking though that perhaps the girl, having overhead the guy talking to all of the ‘voices in his head’, might actually have been excited at the idea of having sex with multiple men at the same time, expanding the idea of people creating sex tapes into full interactivity! However the climax that the story does get, with the girl unfortunately taking the notion of ‘voices in the head’ far too literally, was great as well!

The second story is the most sci-fi one, as a person is (forcibly) made to understand that they are deluded in thinking that they are a real human being and instead told that they are a copy of the real person created to act as the perfect home help, presumably because only you yourself best know the time that you want to wake up, the perfect way that you like your toast done, and so on. This is a fascinating section in which human beings are perfectly copied and then degraded down to perform basic tasks as they act as their own slaves, and the moral implications of that are extremely tricky, especially the question of how easily the 'original, real' human being might be able to adjust to the idea of slave owning by simply being able to deny the idea of humanity existing inside the device. Even when it is their own humanity that is in there! How would a person react to knowing that there was a clone of them somewhere, or would it be better to not think of the copy as human at all, to make things easier? It did make me wonder about whether the consciousness inside the little egg device might really be tortured enough to exist purely to serve, or whether there might still be a spark of independent thought left there even after being left in a blank space alone for months on end and abused. (I assume these could even be similar to debates that might have turned up in real historical discussions of slaves and slavery issues).

Also (and I learnt this from when a similar cloning story was used in an Aeon Flux episode) presumably as soon as the copy of the person is made and put into the device, that copy is going to begin to have its own experiences and thoughts independently of the person it came from. Can it still be seen as a copy of the original person or as an individual entity in itself from that point forward? And, significant perhaps in light of the ending, does that negate the use of a copy as a device for interrogating a reticent real person?

The third story involves the use of technology in the most dramatic way, and the closest to the “Entire History of You” episode (although the main character’s impotent and futile rants to “shut it off” reminded me more of Bing in “15 Million Merits”), as we see another relationship in the process of collapsing, with people given the power to be able to ‘block’ others out of their lives, leaving just a shadowy blob outline and muffled protestations from the blocked party. As with the first story, the implications of this tale start off small, with an argument about a baby, and grow wider and bigger until they have totally consumed a person’s life. This is a story less about the technology but about the issues of relationship breakups, especially when children are involved, and a kind of plea to society that cutting someone fully out of a relationship to ‘protect’ a party from hurt can itself lead to obsession, assumption and a spiral into violent paranoia that could be even worse than actually facing up to each other early on, talking things out and being honest with each other. There might be hurt there, but the situation the character is in in this final story is another form of long term mental torture. Like some of the previous episodes of the series, this is about the way that technology can trap people in a kind of limbo regarding a past relationship when it would perhaps be better for everyone if they were able to move on from it. Also adding to the sense that this ‘Christmas special’ episode re-tackled a few themes from the previous series in new ways was the feeling that the ending of the third story felt similar to the final revelation and torture of the main character in the “White Bear” episode, in which understanding guilt is made to seem somewhat less important than the cruel retribution of being destroyed by the knowledge of your actions over and over again.

One of the interesting aspects of the whole episode is that it is dealing with quite difficult, and potentially quite charged, subjects in the current climate of men using women, turning them into objects to be sexually conquered, commodities and even slaves, and in the final story shows a man frozen out of his relationship by a technologically enforced break-up. However there is a sensitivity there to not fall on the side of an too neat and easy ‘all men are monsters/all women are terrible’ perspective on the situations but instead a more believably nuanced view of human beings with emotions often taking control of them, which itself gets badly twisted and set into stone by blunt technological ‘safeguards’ that cause more damage (to individuals, relationships, societies as a whole) by their application. Either amoral application or, as in the second story and the coda, by controllers fully conscious of the effects they are having and either not caring or revelling in the power they have. (Such as in the coda which touches interestingly, with its talk of ‘registers’, on the idea of certain classes of criminals being monitored by, whilst simultaneously being ostracised by, the wider society). Once society gets involved in blanket monitoring or enforcing control over certain aspects of the technology, there are inevitably going to be horrible miscarriages of justice done as a consequence.

This episode also did make me wonder about the stage at which the technology was at in the society. Is it so new that most people would be unaware of the way that people could see through the eyes of others? Is the idea of copying people in the second story a new concept being eagerly adopted by people with busy lives wishing that they could split themselves into more than one person? Is the concept of blocking people by quite literally isolating them from other individuals or the rest of society as a whole also a new idea? It perhaps seems less horrible and, well, callous if this was all so new to the world that people haven’t understood the damage that they are doing to each other with it yet. However everyone in the world has at least had to have their eyesight electronically enhanced for all of this technology to work (is it mandatory to have it done in a police state manner? Or just so ubiquitously necessary in order to function in the society that it is mandatory in all but name?)

Frankly this episode and the series as a whole is putting recent feature films like Her and especially dopey, truly paranoid stuff like Men, Women and Chldren in the shade in terms of ethical dilemmas that are brought up by ubiquitous technology and the illusion of control people have over it. This series also understands that all of these issues of coercion, brutalisation, casual cruelties and people using each other existed long before technology got involved - technology isn't suddenly turning people into horrible monsters, or making society a worse place. It is just, arguably, making it easier and more visible to others. Society was always like that, and the technology just adds a new wrinkle to be used wisely or exploitatively; with thought for its impact on others, or without.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Also, was it intentional to have Jon Hamm in the role of an interrogator figure similar to his lobotomist character in Sucker Punch?


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:11 am 
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Lovely write-up, Colin. Your comments on the second section suggest exactly the kind of avenues the story should have explored further: as you say, there's the disturbing (and horribly convincing) suggestion that a person could fail to empathise even with their own 'self', simply by virtue of the digital barrier erected between them, but that could so easily have been turned on its head - what does it mean to have that tortured, diminished 'other you' running every aspect of your life? The cookie's subservience makes a horrible kind of sense, given the threat hanging over her if she steps out of line, but all the same it felt like there was much more to say here.

This was the problem I had with the whole episode, and it hasn't affected the previous two series. Each story before now has been given just enough time to develop its ideas and give them space to breathe, without becoming long-winded. The ideas this time were as strong as ever, but in trying to cram the three stories into shorter time-slots Brooker has slipped into some really shaky plotting:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Hamm's character tripping on the toys, most obviously. But more damagingly, the motivations of the schizophrenic woman, and especially of Spall's character in the climactic scene, were not established strongly enough. The suicide pact and the snow-globe attack just didn't ring true, psychologically - they felt like convenient twists inserted to enable the story to get where it needed to go. For the third story to work, we really needed to feel and understand why the character lashed out like that. Yes, it was kind of set up by the resentful comment about the father at the start of Spall's narrative, and by his hurling of the vase against the wall (showing his potential for impulsive violence), but again these just felt like cogs inserted into the script to serve a function, not like authentic character development.

I suppose in this sense, the episode was true to the old horror anthologies it was paying homage to. But that's exactly why I've always hated those kind of films. They reduce characters to a two-dimensional level, thereby discouraging empathy - and given what ends up happening to these characters, I think that's a serious problem. The greatness of this series has, from the start, depended on its unflaggingly empathetic treatment of its protagonists. This is what made 'White Bear', especially, such a powerful episode. You can see the same spirit in 'White Christmas' - I'm pretty sure we're supposed to agree with Spall's comment about how 'barbaric' digital slavery is, and apply this sentiment to the ending - but the under-baked characterisation tilts this episode more towards the Tales From the Crypt-style sadism. I would have been a lot more comfortable with the whole thing (and more importantly, it would have been much more profoundly disturbing) if it had been more overtly empathetic. I wish it had been done as three linked, whole-length episodes rather than as one feature-length special.

The ending freaked me out to the point of literally giving me a sleepless night:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
I had to obsessively play the 'Deadwood' theme in my head (just started watching that series) in order to get rid of the Wizzard song. Stuff like this and the 'Wish You Were Here' episode from Crypt really gets to me for some reason. Haunts me for months afterwards... Although I have issues with the execution, it is an undeniably brilliant idea. Brooker has literally come up with the worst thing we could possibly do with any form of technology, and taken it to its most appalling extreme. Until now, Hell has always been nothing more than a monstrous ideology we foist on people in order to scare them; but as this episode suggested, Artificial Intelligence could enable us to make it a reality, and a lot of people would have no scruples at all about putting it to use. What a ghastly bit of dialogue: 'Or should I just switch him off?' 'No, leave him on for Christmas.'

Obviously, part of the ending's brilliance consists in the fact that 'I wish it could be Christmas every day' has been definitively ruined forever. I've hated this ubiquitous spawn-of-Satan song since I was about six, and anyone who's ever trawled through shops at Christmas knows the experience of hearing the song in one shop, then immediately hearing it again in another, and so on... Same with Slade, Cliff Richard, Lennon, McCartney, etc. But Wizzard tops them all for sheer soul-crushing, oh-god-kill-me-now misery.

More subtly, this episode has also ruined the word 'cookie'. Just browse the internet for a while and you'll see what I mean. 'This website uses cookies.' 'We will store cookies on your computer.' 'Do you accept the use of cookies?' Shudder... And then consider the implications of that horrible bit in Hamm's description of his job when he talks about the cookies 'wigging out' when tortured for too long, and being used as 'cannon fodder' in computer games, endlessly re-spawning no doubt. It reminded me of this classic Onion article.


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:44 am 
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It is a kind of living death, isn't it. A fate worse than death for a society that doesn't have a death penalty, exchanging it for never ending torture. I think one of the big issues raised in the endings for both Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall's characters, and the clones in the eggs, is of being in a world in which you are forever fixed as one thing and never able to move on from that. There is no opportunity to change or redeem yourself for your crimes. So you were a bad boyfriend, a criminal, even a murderer. How long should you pay for that crime without the possibility of rehabilitation and with a big red fuzzy blob marking you out as a registered offender to everyone else? This episode has the kind of endings that make the blunt respite offered by the death penalty seem lenient.

That idea of real people being used in computer games also got explored a little in the action film Gamer, as teenager boys get the chance to embody and control hardened thugs with life sentences in a real wargame. I like the idea of avatar and user having to team up to survive in that film (which itself is a little bit like the wish fulfilment of the nerdy sci-fi fan being pressed into service by having his otherwise useless knowledge of a TV show called upon in Galaxy Quest!)

I understand your point Sloper, and all three of the stories could have worked as stand alone episodes (and I think the underlying themes of them is a restatement of many of the themes in the previous hour long episodes, from the guy being coerced into performing private acts in public in the first story being a little like The National Anthem, and so on), but I think the individual stories are less important than the framing story.

I quite liked that scene at the end of the first story of Hamm stepping on the loud toys on the landing as he is quietly coming downstairs from witnessing the unfortunate climax to the first story. It suddenly reveals him to have had a family, which perhaps distances the character a bit from the 'sad, pathetic loner' male stereotype by making him a family man who is doing this on the side. The climax of that episode also segues into the blocking story (is the ending of that something that really happened or just some information that Hamm was fed in order to get Spall to open up about his own blocking experience? Either way it ties the two men together and prepares for the ending which will do the same thing in a more brutally blunt manner), and acts as an interesting anticipation of the family dynamics in the final story too. The resonances between each of the stories feels greater than if they were just individual episodes.

I think that line to Jon Hamm's character in the police station is the key one, as one smug police officer talks to him about the events in the first story and says "I bet you didn't tell the guy in there that", when of course he had done so in order to build up a fake relationship with Rafe Spall's character in order to break down his defences and get him to relate the third story!

[Reveal] Spoiler:
It ends up being a story about someone trying to bargain their criminal sentence down by throwing someone else to the police instead. But there is no bargaining or reduced sentence on offer!


Mr Sausage, you might like the 'in a snowglobe' ending! I wonder if it was an intentional tribute to Michele Soavi's films!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:41 am 

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Like Sloper (and before reading the above posts), I had misgivings about the format, even though the horror movie anthology has a distinguished ancestry going back to at least Unheimliche Geschichten (1919). As always, I found Brooker's ideas clever and interesting but this time they seemed little more than "ideas" which (in the second story particularly) were inadequately developed. I do wonder whether these were abandoned premises for previous episodes that he was unable to develop into self-contained stories but cobbled together here, then shoehorned in a Christmas theme (it didn't feel essential to any of it). The twisty ending strained to link them all, and - while undeniably inventive - I found it rushed and confused, an over-egging of the Christmas pudding.

The "slave clone" reminded me of Multiplicity (1996) but here of course is given a much more sinister interpretation. Despite the emphasis on technology, I couldn't help thinking of it more on an allegorical level: aren't we already (without the technology) slaves to ourselves, to our desires, preferences and daily routines? (Groundhog Day and its predecessors on the same theme seemed to me mainly about the fact we already - more or less - relive the same day, repeating the same comfortable routines.)

It even felt like a political allegory, with a Big Brother-like figure offering the tortuous choice of slavery or doing nothing - much like that offered to the unemployed of tediously menial "work experience" or being a "layabout" on benefits (though these days there often isn't even a choice). Most people find it very difficult to do nothing, especially without money. Didn't Renoir - in relation to Boudu - say that he admired those who could but regretted that he lacked "the talent" for it himself?

It was certainly quality television but I hope for a reversion to the previous single-story format. It's not as if Brooker is confined to a fixed slot as previous episodes have varied considerably in length. Incidentally, the unscheduled documentary that followed it - trailed by the continuity announcer over the closing credits - sounded, from its title, like a real version of White Bear!


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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:55 am 
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While I think that the anthology format worked extremely well (White Christmas was far better than The Waldo Moment for example, and I'm glad that the series now doesn't end with its weakest episode anymore), I'm sure that this was just a one-off format for a Christmas special.

Jonathan, Multiplicity crossed my mind too! And the Simpsons segment which copied it!

And yes, that documentary that followed, which seemed to (I had it on mute while writing up my notes on White Christmas) involve members of CEOP (the government legitimised Child Exploitation and Online Protection Service) seemingly SWAT-team raiding properties felt extremely strange coming after Black Mirror, just as strange as the Audrey Hepburn Galaxy chocolate ad (another animatronic creation shilling a product) felt when it turned up in the commercial break during The Waldo Moment. Perhaps the strange ironic appropriateness was intentional, or perhaps it is just that any episode of Black Mirror suddenly throws a harsh light on the rest of the material surrounding it in the schedule!


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