Black Mirror

I’ve been to see my tiny nan today. I usually come away with some sort of brilliant tale or insight after seeing my nan, who is still oh so very sharp in her old age. Today’s was a brilliant story of a neighbour of hers who rather sadly suffers from severe dementia. This lady suddenly went missing and no one, including her family, had any idea of her whereabouts and understandably, they were all highly concerned for her safety. Then after five days of this she was found, of all places, having a lovely holiday in Israel. How on Earth she’d made it out of the country with her condition, no one has any idea, including her, but I just think that’s wonderful. Other than that story there was much fun banter, a sufficient amount of her force feeding me and L everything she had in her fridge and a long conversation about how she has, despite her eye site, started reading lots of books again because TV is so rubbish. Here you have someone who has read trazillions of books, but has slowed her reading intake in recent years due to the strain on her peepers, returning to the format because the quality of television is so shoddy she’d prefer the pain for better entertainment, than have an easy time watching utter shit. I think that says an awful lot about how rubbish telly is.

Well, not all telly. I thought last night’s (and in fact last week’s) Black Mirror was amazing. Many on Twitter seemed to be upset with its futuristic view, complaining that the idea behind Charlie Brooker’s three dramas was their dark reflective view (hence the name) on today’s society. I disagree and I felt, for the first time in a very very long time, that I was watching something that was both gripping in terms of plot, and very poignant in terms of message. A world where everything around you is a screen where you are forced to watch content, costing you money to ignore it, and all content being a distorted controlled view in the first place? Sounds like an easy extension of everything that’s been happening in our newspapers of late, the constant change in technology so that we are always glued to TV’s, iPhones and computers and finally the fact that programs such as X-Factor (the show so wonderfully parodied in the program) now dominate the music charts to the extent that many are dissuaded from hearing original songs or talent.

I tweeted last night that the winner of X-Factor was the ‘ Destruction of Originality, Talent, Taste & Creativity, who apparently got all the votes.’ For those of you that manage to avoid the onslaught of shit that is that program, no, that isn’t the name of one of the bands on there. Sadly. It was a comment on how all that program does is allow us to think that churning out rehashes of the same song are what we should be lapping up around this time of year. That the Christmas chart is now dead – long gone are those fun memories of seeing what Xmas no.1 will be – and that we can easily hack out a group a year to earn Cowell even more money before melting back into the obscurity from whence they came or embrace the hideous nature of Celebrity Reality TV shows and survive by being famous for being on reality TV. After tweeting that I received one response from someone that simply said ‘sad sad reaction from a performer.’ I’m not sure in what context they thought it was sad. If it was bitterness, then no. That’s not my field of entertainment so I don’t envy those on there. I’m sure it must rile up all those people who work hard at writing and playing a song or a piece of music they care about and has come from their hearts, watching some young pretty upstarts get given instant status for resigning one of Gary Barlow’s songs in front of Gary Barlow so his ego can expand even quicker. Its not bitterness, but perhaps just dismay. I’m a big music lover and nothing anyone from any of these programs can ever do will move me in the way, say, Nick Drake’s River Man will. Or Jackson C.Frank’s Blues Run The Game. Or get me as excited and hyper as my favourite hip hop tunes or loud anthems or make me want to walk across the vast planes of the Arctic in the way that Sigur Ros does. It’s all just noise that doesn’t ever portray how the people signing it feel when they’re doing it. Probably because they overwhelmed at their quick escape from the usual run of life, yet trapped in the system that they can’t leave for fear of going back to it.

This aspect of Black Mirror, amongst others, was spot on. With more and more power being given to corporations whilst others suffer on a slave wage, what’s to say that Brooker’s dystopian outlook couldn’t become a reality? I asked my Nan today about her views on the Europe Veto, as she has been political since she was a little girl, brought up by her communist parents and having to look after her sister while they fought in the Cable Street riots against Mosely’s thugs. Her view was that had we not veto’d the result we’d be in trouble, not because of the Euro, but because it is one step closer to globalisation, and nearer to us being dictated by one overpowering government. I was surprised at this as I’d had the opinion that Cameron cutting us off was a bad idea. Then again at the same time, she hates Cameron and thinks isolating ourselves is also dangerous, especially as his motives were to aid not us, the people, but the banks and the corporations. Either way, its not a nice outlook. So either way, the future doesn’t look all too shiny. So was Black Mirror a sci-fi drama or an apt satirical commentary? I say C4 keep those tapes somewhere very safe and we’ll watch them again in 40 years and see.