TV: Black Mirror, Episode One

WARNING: This post is about a UK television program of a very, very disturbing nature. I was nauseated doing this post and I expect you will be too when reading it.

If you have not seen this program yet, I am going to thoroughly spoil it for you. My reason will be at the end of this post.

A member of the Royal Family has been kidnapped …

… and the kidnapper has a degenerate and vile demand that must be fulfilled …

… on nationwide live TV by the current British Prime Minister.

This program is set firmly in our technological world, with tablets …

… and cellphones …

… and live cellphone video streaming …

… and digital tracing and surveillance methods …

… and helmet cams …

… and digital special effects …

… and leakage to social media …

… and digital counter-measures by the kidnapper …

… and social media itself is a character:

The video from the kidnapper was not released to any authorities, but to YouTube …

… where it was copied and made viral …

… and despite injunctions within the UK against broadcasting the video, it is quickly aired by CNN, MSNBC, and even Al Jazeera. Thus the digital lever topples the blockade within the UK.

Making matters worse, when the leakage to social media happens about the digital special effects deception the government was trying to pull to save the Prime Minister from the act, the public mood changed:

And it’s reflected in YouTube comments:

There is no way for the Prime Minister …

… to escape carrying out …

… the kidnapper’s demand on nationwide live TV, which was specified in such a way that even digital special effects could not have been used …

… to simulate the act of bestiality.

Now I will tell you why I have ruined this program for you.

The series title, “Black Mirror,” describes what this anthology series sets out to do: Reflect our dark nature.

However, the structure of this program was more titillating than reflective. It bordered on pornography in the way it drew out the suspense leading up to the forced and seemingly inevitable end.

It was guilty of inciting the very thing it set out to condemn.

At no point in this program does anyone step back from the hype, or even from watching the broadcasted act, and consider the degrading state we have allowed ourselves to sink into.

“The National Anthem,” of course, is now voyeurism. We sit in front of screens and watch.

But even so, that’s no excuse for surrendering what should be any shred of human decency or sympathy for those backed into a corner.

And as realism, the script fails. At no point does the Prime Minister or any of his advisers consider the defiant act of suicide. Even digitally-faked suicide.

Nor is there is any defiance shown by the public towards the kidnapper. No outcry that people simply will not watch and thereby help to thwart the kidnapper.

Brooker’s script sees everyone as loathsome creatures ready to indulge their worst lusts. This program is as low as the subject matter itself and there is ultimately nothing redeeming about it at all.

Sitting here, struggling to do this post, sick to my stomach, even over an hour later it feels as if someone took a shit in my face.


Filed under TV, Writer, Writing

9 responses to “TV: Black Mirror, Episode One

  1. Jason S.

    I don’t get what has happened to Charlie Brooker. He used to be a very funny comedian and critic, but in recent years he’s gone too far in promoting his nihilistic – and rather atheistic – philosophy of determinism. It’s his lack of optimism or faith in the human place that I think has turned off many of his viewers, including me.

  2. I usually avoid spoilers, but this seemed different. I almost wish I had not read your post, but then I might have accidentally watched this, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

    This is not the first such sickening story I have heard of on TV. I’ve accidentally seen others (I don’t remember the names, and I don’t care to). I will not willingly watch stuff like this. Thanks for warning us.

  3. While this is a lot darker than what Brooker is known for, I believe that it very much emphasises (although overdone in some respects) the new want to be disgusted and revolted, forgetting all morals given to us.

    Studying the media and recently watching documentaries, focusing on the government and human reaction, I can see exactly where Brooker is coming from. The media influence is very powerful and a few words here and there can change the way we think, what we do and how we view the world around us.

    In regards to the disgusting nature of the request and the public reaction which really deserves a ‘BAFTA’, I myself have witnessed Teenage behaviour; very much react in the same way.

    For example, 2 girls 1 cup. Something I have never seen, and something we know is disgusting beyond measure, is still watched by millions of people, looking for that cheap thrill of something vulgar.

    Also, who can forget Dutch director Tom Six’s soon to be trilogy of films, full of childish, revolting and unnecessary, depictions of absolute immoral events, all watched by millions of people, who know they shouldn’t, but just can’t help themselves. Even the BBFC had to bow down to Six’s tantrum at the banning of The Human Centipede 2 from UK cinemas. I mean when are people going to stop allowing these people to produce such vulgur products? Are we going to let things get worse?

    Personally I think this is Brooker’s viewpoint and for that reason, I think it’s a great program. Stomach churning, cringeable, but a great vehicle for questioning our human moral.

    You really need to watch the program to get a proper feel for the message. It’s strong and I agree will not be everyone’s taste. But it’s a great message to Britain and ultimately, the ‘twitter’ generation.

    Stephen Daniels

    • mikecane

      >>>You really need to watch the program to get a proper feel for the message.


      As for 2G/1C, they were not *forced* to do that, from what I understand. There was no coercion involved.

      The setup of Black Mirror was entirely different, with the Head of State — who represents the people of the nation — coerced into a degrading and inhuman act. That no one felt sympathy towards the PM, that the nation did not revolt at being so coerced, is a choice Brooker made as scriptwriter in line with his low estimation of what he thinks human beings are. It is a script written by someone whose own twisted view on life was presented as an “entertainment” yet further degraded and humiliated the people he already viewed with contempt. He was an accomplice to the very thing he was allegedly decrying in that abominable presentation.

  4. Humilation is not good. See Bunny Games ban. Right decision I believe.

  5. tressel

    How can you be disgusted?

    Imagine bringing your most sensitive self to watch a satire that had gratuity warnings clearly posted at the start.

    Black Mirror rocks.

    • mikecane

      I saw it via Internet free trade. Satire? You Brits have a warped sense of it. And it’s often used an excuse for the most outrageous shit never *intended* as “satire.” The excuse of cowards: “Oh, I didn’t mean it to be taken *seriously.*” Grow up.

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