Finally, something that's a little more straightforward. It still manages to be fucked up in a lot of ways, but in that good late October way where we indulge the darker side of things. Black Mirror is kind of what the name says; a twisted and weird reflection of our world and how certain elements of it can lead to nightmare dystopia scenarios. I guess it's kind of like The Twilight Zone for the modern age, being an anthology show... but there's no weird supernatural bullshit like aliens in the two episodes I watched. The ideas presented in these episodes probably won't happen in our world, but they're natural outcroppings of current themes in our culture. Or something. Black Mirror has something to say about the human condition, and it manages to do that with weird and wild fucked up scenarios. I should get into those episodes, huh? Only two this time, unlike the three I gave Star Trek... but the latter was a 90-minute one so it ends up being the same amount of time spent on it. I trusted Twitter pals to tell me which ones to go for, and ended up with these two. If there are better spooky-themed ones in the show, then my apologies. This is what I picked, and they were fucked enough to warrant inclusion on the blog. Without ado, let's pop on in.
2x02- WHITE BEAR
The short version: Let's give it everything we've got! Iiiiit's PUNISHMENT TIME!
What a goddamn way to be introduced to this show. I mean, just. Holy shit. I'm about to spoil the living hell out of it, so please go see it if you have any interest in this stuff. We get a nice slow burn with an amnesiac woman wandering around, confused, with a slow discovery of the hell world around her. People are recording everything with their phones, and there's a guy with a gun chasing her down while the phone folks do nothing but continue to film. Alright, ideas are starting to form. Some sort of reality TV analogue mixed with the usual "oh we do too much on our phones and dehumanize ourselves" message. Cute. Okay. Except that's not what it's doing. We have a signal which went out over the airwaves and fucked with people's heads, either turning them into phone gawkers, murderous hunters who kill people for kicks, or neither. Okay so it's Stephen King's Cell plus The Purge or something. Fine. Our amnesia-ridden woman is remembering her daughter in flashes of glitchy... memory, there's lots of tense escapes with her companion pal Jem, and they end up at a broadcast tower to blow the whole thing. At this point, it feels like the episode should be wrapping up. I was laying down and had no concept of how long I'd been watching, so it felt like that was correct. It would have been a neat little dystopia about... I dunno, being glued to your phone and desensitized to violence or something? A paragraph filler, anyway, and that's all I need for these. What I got was 10 minutes to go and a twist that changes literally everything. Our amnesiac, it turns out, kidnapped a child and filmed her lover killing that child on her phone. She pled guilty, and this is her sentence; to live out this weird nightmare scenario of being hunted every day while people film her and do nothing. It's a black mirror (HEH) of what she did to that little girl; a child who has no concept of why people are doing bad things to her, and someone filming it while doing nothing. It's an ironic punishment sort of thing, but the ending makes it clear that this hellscape torture of a convicted accessory to murder is basically a theme park for the entertainment of the guests, who play the part of the phone people. At this point the patrons of the park are basically slotting into the role our protagonist played in that murder; they stand by and film someone going through a horrible scenario while they don't understand what's happening. Even the convict doesn't really understand what's happening until the end of the day, and she's mindwiped every night to do it all over again. Is it really a punishment if she doesn't know what's going on until the end? Day in, day out, over and over. What of the complicit sadism of "ha ha ha let's torture an amnesiac murderer who has literally no concept of the crime she committed" in the guests and staff? Heady questions. This is a fucked up scenario either way... but a good episode. Dang, I had a lot to say and I'm only halfway done. Let's get into the next one, then!
3X06- HATED BY THE NATION
The short version: Light Yagami uses the Bees Note to get rid of every hater on the Internet.
Okay, so I'll cop to it. This is far less spooky and full of less general despair fuckery than White Bear. It still has one hell of a premise and a wild ending, so I'll get into it and its themes. What I like is that this is a good slow burn story with a lot of mystery to it. We know several things out of the gate. This is a world where bees have been replaced with tiny drones masquerading as bees so as not to fuck up the ecology of the world due to bee extinction. It's also a world that, like our own, has people getting death threats on Twitter. Unlike our world, though, the most hated people getting grilled on social media start ending up dead, and that puts some police detectives on the case. Yes, a Black Mirror on Internet abuse. You can just about imagine a world where this would happen, can't you? All you'd need is the technology, and the right person with the keys to the kingdom. Or the hive, as it were. Someone's hacking the bees, and using them to kill the most hated people online... but they're also engineering the targets. The Game Of Consequences has Twitter users use a special hashtag to determine which shitheel of the day they want to die, and at 5 PM that day the top runner ends up dead. All the so-called shitheels, though? They don't deserve death. Hell, they don't deserve death threats. Criticism, at best... but even in our world wishing death upon someone is a bit iffy. Our victims include a journalist who wrote mean things about a wheelchair-bound politician who killed herself, a rapper who mocked a young fan of his, and a lady who pretended to take a piss on a war memorial. Controversial, yeah, but in no way deserving of a drone bee flying into their ears and drilling into their brains to stimulate the pain centers and deliver maximum torture. It's overkill... but that's not what the mastermind wants. The public took to the hashtag to become executioners, delivering out the maximum penalty. It's just the Internet, saying you hope someone dies is part and parcel of Internet culture, right? Not to our mastermind. The script is flipped for endgame, and the bees target everyone who ever tweeted that hashtag. Because harassment is wrong and our Machiavellian Light Yagami motherfucker wants to demonstrate that hate has consequences... by killing everyone who hated. He succeeds, too! Like almost 400,000 people die then and there on the spot! Holy shit! Oh, there's an ending that suggests he'll get his comeuppance for his little game... but still. As a black mirror of a world where people get this shit flung at them every day, it's chilling to imagine. What if they had a killer hashtag at their disposal? Would they really go through with it, or feel any remorse afterwards? Again, it's fucked up stuff that gets you thinking and I really like that.
Yeah, so I like Black Mirror now. I may watch more of it, but not yet. I got some last minute Halloween business to take care of. You understand, of course. We'll be back tomorrow with something, and then the day after that is the endgame. What fun we'll have! See you then and stuff.