Originally written for publication in The Boar, Warwick University’s student newspaper.
Be honest. You didn’t think things would ever get this bad. Not even at Warwick. But you should have expected it. You really should have. What did you expect? For God’s sake, you really should have seen this coming. Well, whether or not you saw it coming, it’s here now and what’s more, you’re reading it. That’s right, an unbearably, unbelievably pretentious and entirely unsubstantiated article, in the Boar, on what Black Mirror ‘really means’ for the future of humanity. Jesus Christ.
This December, award-winning Guardian journalist Charlie Brooker produced Black Mirror. If you haven’t yet seen Black Mirror (it’s on 4OD), just stop reading. Honestly, you should never have started reading. This isn’t a synopsis or a review. It’s a commentary. Or rather, a badly thought through series of observations. If you haven’t watched Black Mirror, reading this will be about as fun as one of those parties where everyone except you went to the same school. Remember the funny way Mrs. Smith used to walk? No? Then get out. Anyway, if you’re not yet mind-numbingly bored of my desperate and pathetic attempts to imitate Mr. Brooker’s own aforementioned award-winning journalistic style, we can finally begin.
Black Mirror’s first episode asked us to look at social networking in a new way. It didn’t focus upon toppling Gadaffi or bemoaning the existence of Clarkson; it was forcing the PM to get it on with a pig. It was powerful and, in a weird way, entirely believable. However, it seemed only to confirm the thoughts I already had about the ‘mob rule’ mentality prevalent on the world wide web.
What really shocked me, was an exchange in ‘An Entire History of You’ (brilliantly penned by Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show and Fresh Meat fame) in which one of the diners was ostracised for ‘going grain-less’. For cutting herself off from a particularly popular modern technology, she was considered to be something of an outcast. Why did this shock me? Because I’d seen it before, but never given it a second thought. Not on TV, but amongst friends and peers. You don’t have Facebook? Why? Why don’t you have it? What’s wrong with you? Why won’t you put your whole life on display for the rest of us? Get tagged or get out. Sound familiar?
In ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ we were asked to consider, amongst other things, the ever intrusive nature of advertising and its increasingly important role in our society. Somewhat ironically, many of us were asked to consider said socio-economic phenomena as 4OD took it upon themselves to play us the same three ads, four times over. The protagonist had the option to pay to skip such mind-numbing marketing. We didn’t have this option. That said a lot. Or maybe it didn’t. Make your own minds up then GoCompare.
Perhaps the most important thing Black Mirror can tell us about our future of a species (and I warned you this would be pretentious) is that despite its dismal prophecies, its own existence suggests there is still hope. Amongst all the other crap on TV and in popular culture, Black Mirror was not only commissioned, but was indeed well received. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Maybe we’re not actually as culturally deprived, dependent on technology or as desperate for celebrity as Black Mirror suggests. On that note, please share this article on your Facebook wall, maybe with a picture of Charlie Brooker and Konnie Huq. Fingers crossed, I’ll be presenting the Guardian’s student media awards in no time. Simples!