An Innocuous Everyday Phrase Imbued With Sinister Meaning Due To Context
January 20, 2015 8:59 AM   Subscribe

 
what if phones, but too much

Sounds about right.
posted by Katemonkey at 9:01 AM on January 20, 2015 [27 favorites]


Not lying I'd watch that Marie Antionette one
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I must not post this to Facebook, where many people really seriously love Black Mirror
I must not post this to Facebook, where many people really seriously love Black Mirror
I must not post this to Facebook, where many people really seriously love Black Mirror
I must no
posted by ominous_paws at 9:10 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Meh. Works a lot better if you're making fun of something that isn't actually well-written and well-rendered.
posted by holborne at 9:10 AM on January 20, 2015 [29 favorites]


"Raise High The Red String"'s description is maybe the most beautifully concise jab at Black Mirror I've ever seen.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Context: Black Mirror (TV Series).
posted by zamboni at 9:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


What if this thing many people like is lame? - Next On My Second Tier Mallory Ortberg Column
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [20 favorites]




I think it's possible to genuinely enjoy something while recognizing that it is grinding an axe down to the handle.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:13 AM on January 20, 2015 [22 favorites]


Also she claimed Norm was the worst Weekend Update host on twitter the other day which is both wrong and wrongest so her judgement about things as a critic is RUINED *tears stream down face* RUINED
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:14 AM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I've heard good things about Black Mirror, but the thing is - if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode. I believe that's the first rule of screenwriting.
posted by bibliowench at 9:20 AM on January 20, 2015 [31 favorites]


Meh. Works a lot better if you're making fun of something that isn't actually well-written and well-rendered.

Nope. Black Mirror is great, this is very funny.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode

*removes from download queue*
posted by poffin boffin at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2015 [23 favorites]


That said, if you commissioned a US style season if Black Mirror instead of doing 3 or so a year this would very much be the result.
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


my girlfriend stopped letting me pick the shows we watch at dinnertime after I chose to watch the first episode of Black Mirror

of course, Broad City is very good and so is Deadwood so no biggie
posted by saucy_knave at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ehh, I feel like this is just trying too hard, and being too absurd in the process. The commentary doesn't seem to match up at all.

After all, the brilliance of the first episode of Black Mirror is that it doesn't step into science fiction at all. Nothing about it felt like something that couldn't happen today.
posted by evilangela at 9:29 AM on January 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Princesses get kidnapped every day

I mean look at that Mario chap.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Has anyone suggested a [SLMO] (single link Mallory Ortberg) optional link tagging scheme yet?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've heard good things about Black Mirror, but the thing is - if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode. I believe that's the first rule of screenwriting.

Came in to say just that. Had gotten enthused recommendations for Black Mirror from 2 friends, so we decided to try it out... While my partner's parents were visiting us over the holidays.

Aaaaaawkward.

Still, totally appreciate the show is quality, AND this list of episodes made me laugh.
posted by Theta States at 9:34 AM on January 20, 2015


"We love it, kid, it's great, it's great! We just want the title to be something a little catchy, a little dark, like Razor's Darkness, or Edge Of Tomorrow or Black Mirror or something."

"if i cant name my show Reader Would You Fuck The Pig i'm going to walk"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:34 AM on January 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Checkov's Pig.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on January 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


My girlfriend has pointed out that if you filmed the interior of a Buffalo Wild Wings for a day, the end result would be virtually indistinguishable from an episode of Black Mirror (excepting the accents and general levels of attractiveness).
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:41 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


A popular thing is actually flawed and not as brilliant as its enthusiastic devotees claim?
posted by fullerine at 9:41 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh man I started watching it because I heard it was really good horror, but then I had to stop after the second episode because I was freaking out over the pointless consumerism of buying Christmas presents and then I went to Whole Foods and they were selling a tote bag with a T-Rex trying to grasp a turnip and it was the commercialization of every internet meme and it was just destroying my mind.

It was too horrifying, actually. It turns out I like horror-as-in-ghosts-and-stuff, not horror-as-in-your-life-is-a-bleak-increasingly-meaningless-existence-you-cannot-escape.
posted by Adridne at 9:42 AM on January 20, 2015 [20 favorites]


The first episode of Black Mirror - whether you like pork or not - was an extremely well-crafted piece of narrative - the initial 'hook', the dialog, the pacing, the 'punch line'; all beautifully done. The other episodes have been good, but none of them hit the high established by The National Anthem.

The "Christmas Special" was kind've "meh", mostly because I could identify each and every bit of it that was taken from some other work. And there were a LOT of such 'bits'. There's a difference between taking one or two concepts and riffing on them, and grabbing an idea from a short story here, another idea from a video that was popular two years ago, another idea from an internet meme, etc.

That said, I would watch each and every one of these.
posted by doctor tough love at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ok I keep seeing it available to stream. I had no idea what it's about but looks scifi-ish based on the box art...or, stream art? Cover art?

Anyway...they are having sexy times with pigs? Does that happen every episode or do they pick a different animal each week?
posted by ian1977 at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've enjoyed most episodes of Black Mirror because it is well-written and has featured brilliant actors for the most part but the endings are so 'makes u think' that its ended up becoming rather formulaic.
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


*whiskey slurred voice * the pig fucking is a metaphor for society!
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 AM on January 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've heard good things about Black Mirror, but the thing is - if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode. I believe that's the first rule of screenwriting.

Show creator Charlie Brooker has been involved with some Chris Morris projects, to perhaps give potential viewers a sense of what absurdity is in store. One needs a certain sense of humor to get what he is doing.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:49 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Really though I always forget that Charlie Brooker does stuff other than be delightful on BFQ and 8 Out of 10 and WILTY.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:52 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dead Set is worth a watch too, and I guess could almost be a lost Black Mirror: Zombie apocalypse hits a reality TV show. It's actually remarkably good at keeping up both the dramatic and satirical sides of that.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of The Scary Door.

I was wondering if they got the name Black Mirror from the Arcade Fire song. Similar tone and theme.
posted by bleep at 9:58 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


What if dirtbag famous historical story?
What if pictures of classical art with totes wtf captions?
What if well-worn masculine archetype taken to its ridiculous extreme?
What if these serious words are find and replaced by these silly words?
What if an internet acronym wasn't what it was but was something else?
What if LIKE MODERN TIMES but IN THE PAST (or vice versa???)?
What if twitter but also an English BA?
What if high culture but ALSO low culture (+ maybe 90's nostalgia? idk)?
What if kind of like McSweeney's Lists but kind of not?
What if buzzfeed but also jezebel?

Is this what we're doing? I'm confused.
posted by StopMakingSense at 9:59 AM on January 20, 2015 [29 favorites]


Behold! the ur-Black Mirror!
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Only recently discovered Black Mirror, but it's definitely quality. The first episode is cringe-inducing but technically flawless. It's a show that declares its intention to hold a cynical mirror up to the world right there on the tin, so if you're not a fan of dark narratives and themes, you should probably just avoid it.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:06 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Taking The Piss

Scabrous television critic makes cult television series largely taking the piss out of television. Heirs former children's television presenter and nation's crush to front piss-take of reality television about men who are unable to piss in public finishing with a mass outdoor piss. In a third act plot twist an unlikely romance occurs between critic and presenter. Happy ending with marriage and said critic going on to write acclaimed television dramas.

Oh no wait, that actually happened.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:07 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's probably best not to watch Black Mirror in order. Start with "The Entire History of You" and work your way from there.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:09 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


A popular thing is actually flawed and not as brilliant as its enthusiastic devotees claim?

What is Dr Who?
posted by Leon at 10:11 AM on January 20, 2015 [26 favorites]


I laughed, but it was a shallow laugh, and the tag "i hate this stupid show" suggests it's not really a loving jab.

I mean, maybe you like twitter and smartphones and whatever. I do too. We all do. It's our lives now. The point is that it shapes us and forms who we are, undoubtedly, and it's worth exploring how those changes are taking place. How our attention is being diverted, and to what ends. Etc.

The show also deals with much, much more than technology and social media. Episode 2 is one of the most brilliantly incisive things I've seen on television and I don't think its takeaway points are all that dependent on the tech involved. It's a bit of an updated Network with extra twists of the knife.

Again this was funny but on second read I'm finding it weirdly dismissive.
posted by naju at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Toast: funny but on second read I'm finding it weirdly dismissive.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:17 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I loved the first two episodes, haven't seen the rest. Is the complaint just that everyone has gotten tired of "makes you think" in every episode? I'm sure I can see how that happens, but gee, I thought it was a good show...
posted by teponaztli at 10:18 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not lying I'd watch that Marie Antionette one

I kind of want to see a whole season of it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:19 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The AI avatar of my dead lover I keep on my phone told me not to laugh at these jokes.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 10:20 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


*whiskey slurred voice * the pig fucking is a metaphor for society!

We're the pig.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:20 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can't wait for the day when we develop a language for discussing matters of taste that respects the utterly personal and absolutely not-universal nature of taste well enough to allow people to talk about culture and their likes and dislikes without sounding like smug pricks hell bent on insulting other people by making subjective claims using vocabulary that makes them sound as if they are objective ones... For instance, "popular thing is flawed." "Flawed" how? Because not everyone enjoys it? If that's a flaw, there's nothing under the sun that isn't "flawed." At a certain point, the differences between a successful work of art and a failed one are almost entirely in the minds of the audience.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:21 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's a show that declares its intention to hold a cynical mirror up to the world right there on the tin, so if you're not a fan of dark narratives and themes, you should probably just avoid it.

Did I just see a serious invocation of "it's too dark and edgy for you"??
posted by kmz at 10:29 AM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I get the pig fucking show confused with the comic book murder show. But I don't get either of them confused with blue box Aspy alien guy and short skirt girl show.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:30 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


We're the pig.

The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister!
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Did I just see a serious invocation of "it's too dark and edgy for you"??

No, not at all, but if you don't like licorice, why would you want to eat licorice candy and then complain about there being something wrong with the licorice? I would personally never recommend this show to people who don't like dark satire because they would hate it.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:36 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah I heard great things! And then I watched the first episode.


Maybe it's for some people but I just thought it was dumb. Oh he has to fuck a pig and it was an artist all along!!!!!!11 soo edgy and cool.

It was really hard for me to suspend my disbelief I guess is all.
posted by Carillon at 10:38 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whether or not it's flawed, I wish there was more TV like Black Mirror. Call it formulaic if you like, but at least consider to what the formula is being applied.

This is kind of a shark-jumping article, tbh, and not very charitable toward what BM is even trying to do. No offense, but is it even possible to derive a shallower comparison than "the interior of a Buffalo Wild Wings?"
posted by rhizome at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The fucked pig is not the point, sheeple!
posted by echocollate at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It turns out the monster was MAN
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, I didn't like the first episode, but I loved the second. A lot of people seem to be holding up the first episode as exemplifying the show as a whole, and I don't think it does at all.
posted by teponaztli at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait, am I to understand that the pig fucking comment is not metaphorical, but that in the first episode of Black Mirror there is an actual pig that is literally fucked?

Because there's a shit ton of stuff I need to watch that doesn't involve that.

although I suppose if there's an actual reason for the pig to be fucked, that would put it ahead of Ascension...
posted by Naberius at 10:40 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually skipped the first episode when introducing it to my wife because I knew it would be too difficult. The second one was a brilliant and absolutely spot on allegory for the darker side of the contemporary pop culture production machinery.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:40 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Call it formulaic if you like, but at least consider to what the formula is being applied.

Like how the linked article is a low-rent McSweeney's gag.
posted by echocollate at 10:41 AM on January 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


Frankly, it was the pig-fucking that sold me from the very beginning. I've certainly read comments on MeFi advocating for Dick Cheney to be forced to do something analogous.
posted by rhizome at 10:41 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister!

No, because he doesn't want to fuck the pig.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:41 AM on January 20, 2015


Because there's a shit ton of stuff I need to watch that doesn't involve that.

Well, to be fair, it's about a prime minister being blackmailed into fucking a pig, not just pig fucking for fun, but that's certainly an understandable reaction.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:41 AM on January 20, 2015


Because there's a shit ton of stuff I need to watch that doesn't involve that.

Naw, naw. It's cool bra. They don't show any actual penetration.
posted by echocollate at 10:42 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It turns out the monster was MAN

Wait a second.... there's some dust on this book... it actually says "It turns out the monster was YOU ALL ALONG, MAN"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:42 AM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hey, look at that weird black mirror.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:45 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The pig fucking episode, a few defenses:

1. If, after the Iraq war, you could not envision GW Bush or Tony Blair being in the fucker's role, and relish that fantasy, you were not paying attention, or are just very very soft. There is room for a naked revenge fantasy now and then, and while it's nice that the episode goes a little deeper than all that, it's enough on the surface, just at that: What if those lying pigfuckers had to actually fuck a pig?

2. If the princess were not a princess, would you fuck a pig for her? Don't mythologize people for accidents of birth unless you want to find yourself caught up in that mythology. Zeus becomes animals to rape mortal women. The kidnapper made your sense of duty your rapist, Prime Minister. Trickster flipped it on you.

3. At every turn, every character has a choice, and they all make the choice they do because the kidnapper knew they would. It's not just about the prime minister and his choice, it's about the entire scheme falling over on their faces to protect a stupid, outdated idea--royalty. Everybody has to play a part in this episode, the PM, the kidnapper, the public who will tune in, everyone. The only person who has no choice, the princess, didn't have a choice to be a kidnapping victim or a princess, and yet somehow her agency-free existence drives other people to behave in extraordinarily stupid ways. I was chanting "LET HER DIE, LET HER DIE" by the end of the episode, hoping at the same time that they would let her die, because really, a ROYAL family, you say? But also I was hoping that they wouldn't, because there's nothing like watching the powerful humbled not because they need to be, but because they can't imagine behaving any other way.

I feel like (and this is a weird thing to write) Ortberg and others got way too hung up on the pig fucking and ignored the uncomfortable truths embedded everywhere else in the episode. The pig fucking was just representative of "Something awful that nobody would ever volunteer for, let's make somebody volunteer for that."
posted by turntraitor at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2015 [27 favorites]


I suppose people who like the cartoonish sci-fi of Snowpiercer would like the game show episode of BM. For me it was too contrived. BM as a whole is hit-or-miss, with a couple of strong outings (The Entire History Of You, White Bear, Be Right Back) but overall a pretty weak ratio for a show with seven episodes in 2 years.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2015


what if fish, but in a barrel
posted by RogerB at 10:48 AM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah there are like two really good episodes, even if the entire history of you feels like a retread of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. I really liked the Christmas special , mostly cause I enjoy Jon Hamm being smarmy and it felt like it was built from lots of little concepts into a more cohesive world -- but it also falls apart if you look at it funny sooo
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 AM on January 20, 2015


After watching the first couple episodes, it seemed to me that the actual point of the show is satirizing all of those "2edgy4me" TV shows and movies. Black Mirror is like My First Dark Satire for people who like to use the phrase "mind fuck" a whole lot.

I'm actually surprised at all the "woah dude" responses to it, I figured the man reaction would be lots of eye rolling.
posted by sideshow at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


what if fish, but in a barrel

More like, "what if the only near-future sci-fi allowed to be produced was Philip K. Dick stories."
posted by rhizome at 10:55 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The audience was the real victim. How can we make people watch as a man goes to fuck a pig? You like tv? Well do you like this? Are you serious enough to watch this all the way through?
posted by Carillon at 10:56 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


What if those lying pigfuckers had to actually fuck a pig?

I wouldn't be surprised if that's what turns people off about it. "HEY, I thought he was going to be able to sidestep that whole thing because he's the Prime Minister!" I was certainly thinking it the whole way through, like waiting for the privilege shoe to drop. That it actually comes to pass is part of what makes it for me.
posted by rhizome at 10:58 AM on January 20, 2015


That it actually comes to pass is part of what makes it for me.

Yeah, this was the part that convinced me it was science FICTION.

We all know how this kind of thing works in real life.

The powerful are never targeted in any meaningful way. The people with the capacity for this kind of action seem hamstrung by the most base, adolescent desires.

You had the lightning in your hand, and you used it to show us all Katniss' boobs. Nice work, asshole.
posted by turntraitor at 11:02 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


So talking about modern alternative histories re the royal family... this looks awesome
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2015


"Be Right Back" is phenomenal and the last scene is a perfect, wonderful coda. The Waldo episode, though -- wth was that.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually skipped the first episode when introducing it to my wife because I knew it would be too difficult. The second one was a brilliant and absolutely spot on allegory for the darker side of the contemporary pop culture production machinery.

I love that it's a brutal takedown of Charlie Brooker written by Charlie Brooker and his wife.
posted by Artw at 11:09 AM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I thought the first episode was hysterical. Maybe I'm an odd one.
posted by kbanas at 11:10 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seems like there never used to be TV shows that I couldn't watch because they were too good. It may be that real life has become so edgy it's blunted my appetite for edgy entertainment. Whatever the reason, I watched two episodes of Black Mirror and had to give it up. It's a really excellent show that leaves me in a thoroughly shitty mood, and I just can't afford to overdo that kind of thing any more.
posted by Flexagon at 11:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm really surprised the show rubs so many people the wrong way. It's definitely much higher quality than this kind of thing usually is on TV from my POV. I'm also not sure what it is about this show that makes it bring out people's snide taste-policing behaviors so conspicuously as in this thread. I take it there are big communities of people discussing this show very seriously as if it were a real, substantial matter of importance out there somewhere and they've formed little groups and such and are ready to go raid each other's villages over it or something?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:18 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's because it's an exact replica of what would happen if someone took the phrase "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" and turned it into hours of television. Both forms breed understandable resentment in their addressees.
posted by invitapriore at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Were this a German-language site, I would probably construct whatever means "anti-subperfectionism."
posted by rhizome at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I mean, maybe you like twitter and smartphones and whatever. I do too. We all do. It's our lives now.

So I've only seen the first episode (yeah with the unfortunate pig) and that was like a year or two ago but I loved it in no small part because it wasn't a smh complaint about technology and society these days. It absolutely pegs the casual chatter of the internet that revolves around something grotesquely comic and entertaining, then shows that chatter going quiet in the face of the comically horrible thing actually happening, stripped of comedy because, after all, it involves a real person. It's about a situation that seems, for all the exaggerations of The Prime Minister and the Princess, like a logical extreme of how we experience modern technology: interconnectivity, the horrible beside the banal, anonymity and inescapable visibility, a necessary mental distance and it's sudden collapse.

Compare/contrast with the more usual: "smartphones, amirite, if only these sheeple would look up!"

I've recommended it to people as the only TV I've ever seen which understands the internet.
posted by postcommunism at 11:24 AM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm also not sure what it is about this show that makes it bring out people's snide taste-policing behaviors so conspicuously as in this thread.

I think a lot of it is the innate discomfort of realizing that they're talking about us. Black Mirror is about us, modern internet culture especially. And it's an uncomfortable conversation about us, unflattering yet pretty accurate portrayals of the compulsions wrought by the Attention Economy.

Unless you're a true Luddite, and unable to read what I am writing here, then your insecurities, your own sense of wondering if all this is any good for you, is being skewered in that show. It's pretty uncomfortable.

I don't think it's saying "WAKE UP SHEEPLE," as much as it's saying "Yep, here's what you look like. We've made it futuristic to cover it up, but this is you."
posted by turntraitor at 11:24 AM on January 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


No, not at all, but if you don't like licorice, why would you want to eat licorice candy and then complain about there being something wrong with the licorice? I would personally never recommend this show to people who don't like dark satire because they would hate it.

But I don't think that's the complaint of the article or commenters? It's more that they feel the satire is too trite, perhaps.

No offense, but is it even possible to derive a shallower comparison than "the interior of a Buffalo Wild Wings?"

You're confusing the article with comments.

I'm also not sure what it is about this show that makes it bring out people's snide taste-policing behaviors so conspicuously as in this thread

In terms of the original article, at least, it was basically Mallory Ortberg mentioning she didn't like the first episode on Twitter and everybody going ballistic.
posted by kmz at 11:25 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's because it's an exact replica of what would happen if someone took the phrase "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" and turned it into hours of television

How odd because I don't really see it that way at all. It doesn't seem like Brooker's intent is such but more like "Sadly, this is the way we are now and this is how we choose to live. We are defined by the technology we use and the technology that we will choose to use in the future should this come to pass."
posted by Kitteh at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


snide taste-policing

Isn't that called "expressing an opinion?"
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Flexagon summed up exactly my feelings on this show.
posted by thebrokedown at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2015


It's because it's an exact replica of what would happen if someone took the phrase "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" and turned it into hours of television. Both forms breed understandable resentment in their addressees.

I don't take that to be the point of the show at all. I don't think it's claiming to show the truth about anything necessarily--it does just what it says on the tin: Holds a black mirror up to the world. It's not supposed to be a political warning cry, I don't think, so much as very darkly humorous explorations of modern life.

Pretty much every criticism of things these days seems to boil down to some variant on "You think you're better than me, don't you?"
posted by saulgoodman at 11:30 AM on January 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


Isn't that called "expressing an opinion

I was referring to the innuendo in some of the comments, not the substantive expressions of specific opinions. Stuff like "ooh, people who like this must think they're edgy."

Basically, sweeping aspersions related to people's identity and self-definition rather than anything having to do with the show, its specific subject matter, and/or execution.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're confusing the article with comments.

Not at all, I was implicitly comparing similarly-hot takes.
posted by rhizome at 11:33 AM on January 20, 2015


Seconding Artw's reading that "Fifteen Million Merits" is merciless self-criticism from Brooker. Bing's spontaneous act of truth-telling is immediately absorbed and commodified. And what's his reward? A bigger cage.

It's probably because I saw "Fifteen Million Merits" first, and Bing's speech colored the rest of the series for me, but I can't help seeing Black Mirror as a coded plea for mercy. Bing's indictment of the audience's appetite for watching other people being humiliated; the horror visited upon the reality show participant in "White Bear" in the name of justice; the casual way that the police detectives in "White Christmas" consign one of the characters to 1,000 years of virtual hell on a whim. Far from being a "lookit how edgy I am" vibe, the overall sense I get is one of horror at how technology allows us to indulge our worst impulses before we recognize what we're doing -- which seems to be building a world without mercy.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 11:36 AM on January 20, 2015 [30 favorites]


It doesn't seem like Brooker's intent is such but more like "Sadly, this is the way we are now and this is how we choose to live. We are defined by the technology we use and the technology that we will choose to use in the future should this come to pass."

I was exaggerating for comedic effect, but I don't either of the two alternative glosses presented since do much in the way of exculpatory work. Part of why I think the satire here is pretty weak is because it fails to generalize. It takes our current modes of technological interaction, modes that are ephemeral and context-bound, and imports them wholesale into lightly modified settings. The results that fall out aren't surprising or revealing in any way unless watching this show is literally the first time you've undertaken the intellectual exercise of magnifying some of our current cultural practices around technology ad adbsurdum.
posted by invitapriore at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode.

Oh come on. Be honest. That's the reason most people watched it. It was great.

Flexagon summed up exactly my feelings on this show.

Yep. There are plenty of other good things to watch that don't make me want to blow my brains out. I get it. It's excellent. But it feels too much like cable news.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:45 AM on January 20, 2015


I don't think it's fair to say it's good stuff when it's in your imagination but not when fixed to film. Extrapolating to commodification is how a lot of sci-fi works (I'm not a pro, natch), so to encapsulate a critique within a mere mechanism or technique seems a bit forest for the trees.
posted by rhizome at 11:48 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh I didn't think it was that good. The White Bear episode was cringeworthy for being sooo not subtle. OMG There are zombies walking around and taking pictures with their cell phones! GET IT?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:50 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seconding Artw's reading that "Fifteen Million Merits" is merciless self-criticism from Brooker. Bing's spontaneous act of truth-telling is immediately absorbed and commodified. And what's his reward? A bigger cage.

But all they did was mash up Network and American Idol (or whatever the British version is). My problem with the show is that it's too much setup and surface, and overly reliant on the twist at the end. They do have excellent production values though. The only episode I really thought was innovative was "The Entire History of You".
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:50 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like reclusive_thousandaire, the first episode I saw was "Fifteen Million Merits". I think the main problem with "The National Anthem" was that it was the first episode. I liked the episode quite a bit, but I watched it after watching every other episode I could find. I think it doesn't work as an introductory episode, because it seems to poke more at shock value than depressing near future, which is more in line with the tone of the series.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:51 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since when does satire have to generalize though (invitapriore)? Swift's Modest Proposal addresses a very specific time and place in history. Gulliver's Travels, too. Twain's satire is as time-and-place bound as anything ever written. Most of the classical Greek satirists targeted specific public figures and political circumstances of the day.

Yep. There are plenty of other good things to watch that don't make me want to blow my brains out.

Definitely wouldn't recommend continued watching to people who it makes want to kill themselves, but it doesn't do that to me.

My problem with the show is that it's too much setup and surface, and overly reliant on the twist at the end.

Isn't this a genre show of the Twilight Zone, Amazing Tales variety? That was my impression. It's meant to follow that old-school Tales from the Darkside, Twilight Zone, twist-at-the-end format, or is that not deliberate?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:53 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


White Christmas was a better run through of the themes brought up in White Bear, if only cause it didn't hit you QUITE as hard with them and the torture aspect was mixed in with a lot of other fun stuff in their terrible future like the Pick Up Artist computer assist thing.

(although, why create AIs that can experience torture in the first place nevermind.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:57 AM on January 20, 2015


(although, why create AIs that can experience torture in the first place nevermind.)


Because they couldn't create AIs, only a container for consciousness that already exists.

Why create a system of confined feeding operations that tortures the animals we eat? Because we're taking what we want from the creature, and insisting that it exist on our terms.
posted by turntraitor at 11:59 AM on January 20, 2015


It's meant to follow that old-school Tales from the Darkside, Twilight Zone, twist-at-the-end format, or is that not deliberate?

I'm sure it is. But once your familiar with that device, it gets old fast. I read for a literary magazine, and it's always the younger, less experienced writers that go for the twist ending.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2015


I liked the recent Christmas special, but mostly find Black Mirror to be curiously uneven, especially wrt to its vision of humans. To me, the best episodes are the ones that focus on working out the implications of some fictional bit of technology in a difficult but just about life-size situation. The Entire History of You and Be Right Back are like this, and I think that having to think through an idea, explain it to the audience, and make us believe it sort of forces Charlie Brooker, etc. to create sympathetic, believable characters and situations to anchor their story to. But then there are episodes that don't really seem to have any idea at the centre at all except "Christ but people are stupid and rotten", and those are basically Reefer Madness for technology. I found White Bear and The Waldo Moment to be utterly overwrought and underthought, and they both left me not with any real feeling of unease about our potential to abuse technology but rather with a nauseous hatred of their cynicism, self-righteousness, and above all misanthropy. Brooker has good ideas but IMO he's crying out for a collaborator with a feeling for people.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:05 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another good one from the comments:

"That cranky old woman you keep trying to block on Twitter? Its you. Except "you" are now "E.W.E.", a mechanized sheep-goat hybrid developed in 2035 to pacify the subservient masses with soft adorable sweaters and delicious cheese."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:11 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sure it is. But once your familiar with that device, it gets old fast. I read for a literary magazine, and it's always the younger, less experienced writers that go for the twist ending.

That's been true going back at least 20 years to my days reading for zines and university literary journals in the early 90s. Twist endings feel nicely pat and complete, which can make less experienced writers feel more confident they've ended where they should have. But I just figured in this case that was the show's intentional format.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:12 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


1. If, after the Iraq war, you could not envision GW Bush or Tony Blair being in the fucker's role, and relish that fantasy, you were not paying attention, or are just very very soft.

consider me very soft for wanting a bunch of people prosecuted for being war criminals instead of watching 10 minutes of someone non-metaphorically fucking a pig. petty revenge fantasies are great but I surely do not want to watch your particular one while I'm just trying to unwind after a long day.

2. If the princess were not a princess, would you fuck a pig for her?

yeah, royalty is weird, how does it even exist? if there were just a bit more homework done and they talked about, I dunno, like the basic concept of the rule of law and the complicity of the royalty or like how they symbolize unequal distributions of wealth or whatever, sure, sure, I'd dig it. but no, it's like, society! we do stuff! why even we done? how system work? how can babby formed?

3. yet somehow her agency-free existence drives other people to behave in extraordinarily stupid ways. I was chanting "LET HER DIE, LET HER DIE" by the end of the episode, hoping at the same time that they would let her die, because really, a ROYAL family, you say? But also I was hoping that they wouldn't, because there's nothing like watching the powerful humbled not because they need to be, but because they can't imagine behaving any other way.

seems like you'd have to be pretty cynical to want the death of someone who derives their blessed existence from an outdated system of power instead of asking from where that system derives power and why. like, she's a symbol, I get that, but a symbol is just a symbol. it provides illumination but the whole revenge fantasy thing against one thing just because the system produces bad results neither fixes the system nor would it be something that you'd probably consider ethical (you may know it as a 'witch hunt' under different conditions)

but who knows, maybe I'm a big ol softie

squeals
posted by saucy_knave at 12:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


But all they did was mash up Network and American Idol

That's a fair enough point. I can't really pretend to objectivity here; I love Network, I enjoy The Twilight Zone, and I like Black Mirror quite a bit. I didn't care for the Waldo episode, but I liked how it carried through Brooker's thread about the varying levels of importance people vest in personae, avatars and doubles: the AI in the Christmas Special , the cartoon Miis in the second episode, the ersatz Domnhall Gleason in Be Right Back, the failed body double in the first episode, and the public's mental images of the Prime Minister, which his wife is upset about. The protagonist of White Bear, an amnesiac whose memory of her own crime has been destroyed by her jailers.

I can see how others might think it's sophomoric, but I think there's value in fiction that explores the question, "what is a self?" from a broad variety of dramatic angles.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


your particular one

I don't think this was too particular--there was definitely a clear-cut LOVED IT/HATED IT reaction among friends on the internet, but I don't think any group was clearly the minority.

seems like you'd have to be pretty cynical to want the death of someone who derives their blessed existence from an outdated system of power instead of asking from where that system derives power and why

It's just a show, we're allowed to cheer for the deaths of otherwise innocent people for the crime of being annoying; she wasn't annoying because of who she was, but because of what she represented--something people were loyal to because of completely nonsensical traditions.

I don't wonder at all from where the royal aristocracy derives power and why it gets that power, and I don't think asking why they didn't make a totally different show is particularly useful. This is a show for people who want to see the powerful humbled, or think it's silly to have a royal family, or people who fit into both of those descriptions. I don't think Brooker was interested (or that his audience would find it interesting) in doing a show that examines the self-evident stupidity of letting people be rich on the public dime for the reasoning that it's always been so.
posted by turntraitor at 12:36 PM on January 20, 2015


a friend of mine pointed out that the title 'black mirror' is really clever because it also can be read as the turned-off screen of a device
posted by p3on at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


See? It's a shew stone.
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2015


I'm going to go outside and plant a nice bush now.
posted by echocollate at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2015


Hey, maybe he made sweet love with the pig. Or awkward acquaintance sex. Why does it have to be pig fucking?

Also, was I the only one more horrified for the pig than the act? It's like a Book of Questions question: Would you rape an innocent defenseless person in order to save another person's life? What if that person was a princess? What if that defenseless person was actually a pig?

Incidentally, I was half-watching the first episode and had no idea that he was supposed to have sex with a pig to save the princess until it actually happened. I was confused but then I realized the show is great.

The most horrifying part was that it made it look like everybody was intently watching it being done on TV, and in the end it didn't really matter that it was done. We do and sacrifice some fucked up things for entertainment, but I don't really remember half of the scandals that happened in the last few years.

Also, it is not the best episode.
posted by 90s_username04 at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2015


I also liked that regular people were basically required to pay attention through the ubiquity of the story within the story, and that they showed one or two people trying to turn away, but failing.
posted by rhizome at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm actually surprised at all the "woah dude" responses to it, I figured the man reaction would be lots of eye rolling.

That was me. The show just seems to be trying too hard to be daring and edgy. Or maybe I'm just grumpy and old.
posted by octothorpe at 1:13 PM on January 20, 2015


I have enjoyed and do continue to enjoy various television shows, films, albums, and books. I hope that you've also found media that brings you enjoyment, and I hope you find new works that continue to bring you pleasure.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:20 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


The White Bear episode was cringeworthy for being sooo not subtle. OMG There are zombies walking around and taking pictures with their cell phones! GET IT?
MisantropicPainforest

I feel like you didn't finish the episode...
posted by Sangermaine at 1:31 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Or maybe I'm just grumpy and old.

Not you personally, but generalizing on this, if you subtract "grumpy and old" from the critique, doesn't "daring and edgy" still remain? That is, whether or not you think they're trying too hard to do something, doesn't the thing that is being pointed at still exist as an accomplishment?
posted by rhizome at 1:32 PM on January 20, 2015


Rod Serling takes a deep drag on his cig, slowly blows the smoke in your face. "At least", he says, "it wasn't up your ass".
posted by Chitownfats at 1:33 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


turntraitor, you are allowed to like the show that you want. if I had an overall point, it was that people weren't just getting hung up on the porcine rape(?). my point was that people stopped watching the show for a lot of reasons and we're not all doing so because we're just stupid, small-minded softies who don't get the basic thematic content
posted by saucy_knave at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2015


I have enjoyed and do continue to enjoy various television shows, films, albums, and books. I hope that you've also found media that brings you enjoyment, and I hope you find new works that continue to bring you pleasure.

weird, I derive pleasure from talking to people about tv shows, films, albums, and books. what a world we live in that we don't have to be shamed for doing the things that we enjoy
posted by saucy_knave at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2015


my point was that people stopped watching the show for a lot of reasons and we're not all doing so because we're just stupid, small-minded softies who don't get the basic thematic content

Yeah, people dislike things for a lot of reasons. I don't think those are the only possible reasons to hate Black Mirror. One could also be Tony Blair.
posted by turntraitor at 1:46 PM on January 20, 2015


I expected to find a whole bunch of Black Mirror pitches in here. Come on, Metafilter.

Downvote
A society in which everything you say can receive "favorites" and "downvotes" from your conversation partners. Your salary is determined by how many favorites you have accumulated.

The Dictatorship and the Dictatorship
Google Glasses allow you to filter out individuals who annoy you, rendering them invisible and mute. America has become a racist Hyperchristian theocracy at war with an Islamofascist dictatorship overseas. When Sophie starts speaking out against racism, she becomes so despised that everyone filters her out, rendering her an invisible ghost. She eventually takes off her glasses and to discover that the other dictatorship is not overseas --- it occupies the same physical space as America and the two countries are overlaid. No one realizes this; they have filtered out the other culture entirely.

Community Standards
The legislative branch of government is done away with entirely. The legal system becomes a public wiki that anyone can edit.

(I haven't seen the Xmas special yet. For all I know, one of these is in there.)
posted by painquale at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


Fine, fine

I Don't See Color
Using our enhanced cyber-eyes, we are able to shape the world we see in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Average users change the content of advertisements in public spaces to be pictures of kittens, but a small-yet-growing cadre use the technology to perceive all fellow humans as members of the same race.

Opt Out
That Dave Eggers book, the one where a guy is literally hounded to death by social-media driven drones? Wow, wouldn't it be less out of touch if it were like, an adolescent girl? Why did they have to make it not just a guy, but an insufferable dude?

Less Relevant
Aging editor of a site dependent on snark for income stream discovers Peak Snark has been reached, starts pleading with others to "tone it down" lest all snark run out, people are like "Yeah, sure Mal, how about you sharpen up those elbows and stop worrying about your retirement fund?"

Segmentation Fault
The heuristic algorithms that drive a marketing automation system discover there's real money to be made in encouraging smaller and smaller communities of people with less and less commonality with the larger society, until we are all being fed content in a private language that our virtualized minders have developed with us since birth, unable to connect with anyone who doesn't ship our main characters exactly the way we do, wishing death on those who like that which we do not.

There Are No Other Options
Examining her role in consumer culture leads a maker to feel contempt for consumers, hire someone to pretend to like them for her.
posted by turntraitor at 2:03 PM on January 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


In the wake of a devastating cyberattack that reveals embarrasing business info and salacious personal details, an American movie studio caves to terrorist threats from Internet trolls and pulls a stoner comedy from theaters. Surprise twist: the film is released anyway. Special guest appearance by Adam Sandler.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


A Satire Darkly

An individual watches several Black Mirror episodes and finds them pretty heavy-handed underneath the hi-gloss production, but then all the AV Club reviews are really good and everyone on the internet is saying how trenchant and virtuosic it is. In a seemingly-unrelated side plot, the protagonist searches for the blackest hair dye possible, but is horrified to discover that the result looks less like a dye job than an ink spill.
posted by invitapriore at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Favorites

A man obsessed with getting the most favorited comment on a popular website gets his wish when he has a heart attack and leaves a message asking for help which arrives too late since his witty phrasing made everyone think it was a brilliant joke.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:15 PM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I liked the couple of episodes of Black Mirror I saw ("Fifteen Million Merits" was one of them, and then there was the one with the porn ad pop-ups that happen IN REAL LIFE) but "what if phones, but too much" made me do the at-work-suppressed-giggle for the past five minutes.

I am guessing that the problem is not that I don't enjoy dark satire in general (I don't think it's any darker than Brass Eye, for instance, which I thought was pretty amazing), I just think that, if what I've watched is any indication, it can be a little on-the-nose.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:16 PM on January 20, 2015


on-the-nose

en forme de poire gets trapped in a kafkaesque maze of recursion when a bot turns random bits of his comments into Black Mirror episodes.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


What Else Is On
All TV shows and movies becomes derivatives of each other in some identifiable way, except for the webcam pointed at the watcher. A man can't decide which universal remote to buy.
posted by rhizome at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


140 Characters
Scientists receive a communication from aliens in search of intelligent life, but the scientists will only be able to send back a six-second video in response. The world searches for a perfect six-second expression of humanity. The aliens are unimpressed with the Vine that is sent. They announce that they will terraform the world, killing nearly everyone, but in a show of compassion, they will allow humanity to choose 140 people to save.
posted by painquale at 2:34 PM on January 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


No, duchess of Marseilles.
posted by clavdivs at 2:39 PM on January 20, 2015


Ok Im tired from first day of school and am open minded about Black Mirror. I saw White Bear and the pig-fucking episode. If there is one episode to watch tonight, which should it be?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2015


Suggestion

A man asks for suggestions on the internet. The comments spiral out of control until they literally suggest every option possible. He chooses all of them and becomes a god, or something.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:56 PM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Time Enough At Last

A man is incapable of keeping up with his Twitter feed, but fortunately nuclear war kills everyone else, allowing him to get caught up, until he drops his iPhone, breaking the screen!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:05 PM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


To serve #NotAllMen
It's a block-list!
posted by Artw at 3:12 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Kids These Days

After watching an episode of Black Mirror, everyone becomes obsessed with Porkr, a new app for casual pig-fucking hook-ups. A race of half-human, half-pig children are born who corner the truffle market and hold high-end restaurants to ransom. Famous TV chefs - Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and so on - form a crack team of mercenaries called "The Comestibles" to fight the demi-porcine threat. They triumph after a long struggle, and pork is declared "Harem" by a grateful Archbishop of Canterbury, who also imposes Sharia law. Richard Dawkins, writing for the Daily Mail, agrees that this was the only sensible policy in the circumstances.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:14 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


The Eye of the Beholder

Despite a series of plastic surgeries, a woman is still unable to make a proper duck face. She is exiled so she won't be a disturbance to the state.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:22 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


He chooses all of them and becomes a god, or something.

Wasn't that a Jeff Noon short story about a soft drink bottle which allowed one to combine flavours by twisting the cap?
posted by acb at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


If there is one episode to watch tonight, which should it be?

I whole-heartedly suggest "The Entire History of You". I think it does a great job of taking a technology that conceivably could exist in the fairly near future, and giving us a great perspective on how it could affect our lives. And something that we might well think would be a positive.
posted by evilangela at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Satire
Marley Mooker, the maker of an extremely obvious techno-dystopian satirical TV show, begins to plan an episode of his show. In the episode, he writes, "Shallory Shortberg," an Internet-based satirist who writes mean-spirited and unfair parodies of a universally loved and deeply meaningful techno-dystopian satirical TV show, meets that show's creator, "Karlie Kooker," in person as a result of an online dating profile gone awry. After they meet cute and trade quips, "Shortberg" recants her mockery of "Kooker," realizing that he is in fact a cleverer satirist than she thought, and that her teasing was just a sign that she was falling in love with him. But the planning of the episode somehow goes terribly awry; it seems the cloud server technology which Mooker relies on for his script revisions has been hacked before taping, and the actors are somehow performing not the lines Mooker remembers writing but those of an Internet-based satirist, a mysterious puppet-master figure calling herself Valerie Vortberg. But there's no time to rewrite now; they shoot the episode, which ends up poking fun at the self-satisfaction of Mooker's planned conclusion. Everyone on Twitter applauds its ironic twist ending: "Kooker," realizing the errors of his simplistic thinking about ubiquitous technology, apologizes to "Shortberg" for his faults — via text message. Cut to Mooker, waking up in bed in a cold sweat: this was all a nightmare, and Vortberg was just a creation of his fevered imagination! Head in hands, he wonders whether he's losing his satiric edge. But from there, the camera pulls slowly back through a computer screen, revealing that Mooker himself is in fact living in a virtual-reality simulation; the real Valerie Vortberg is watching him onscreen. She is an AI researcher studying whether the generation of extremely obvious satire can be automated; she begins to curse in frustration, thinking her research has failed, as Mooker's ego subroutines are too fragile and self-serious to function. Finally we fade to blue, revealing the true dystopian twist: that the entire thing has been described in advance in a dumb joke on a web site. "Goddammit, why did we waste our time on this," mutter Vortberg, Mooker, Shortberg, and Kooker in unison, on their various levels of unreality, as the credits roll. The show is immediately cancelled.
posted by RogerB at 3:57 PM on January 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


"15 million merits" is a great tragic love story set in a near future where the nastier aspects of our consumer and celebrity culture have ripened and gone to rot.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:00 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode.

Charlie Brooker ends his (Weekly/Annual/Whatever)-wipe news roundup shows by telling the audience 'Now go away'. Which is at the same time too precious, too 'edgy', and absolutely marvelous.

Which is to say, he probably doesn't care if you watch the show or not, and if he does, I don't think he'd admit it. He is spectacularly curmudgeonly, and gets a pass in my book because he's also very very smart and very very funny.

Anyway, for my part, if you (fictionally) fuck a pig in your debut episode of a television program and the aforementioned notional pigfucking is in the service of some (arguably) scathing cultural commentary (positing that the metaphorical TV pig is being fucked each and every day, and we're loving it, perhaps), I AM THERE.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:12 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Disclosure
When a TSA agent is fired for drinking on the job, he retaliates by stealing a database of all the images that the Pornoscanners have being saving in secret and he releases it on the net. Suddenly, it is possible to search for nearly anyone and see what they look like naked. Society upends itself to deal with this sudden breach of privacy. There are strong social and moral strictures against looking up your friends and neighbors, but most people do anyway. Eventually, someone realizes that a number of senators, CEOs, pop musicians, actors and actresses, and important industry leaders appear to have no genitalia...
posted by painquale at 4:33 PM on January 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was trying to come up with a jokey black mirror episode and came up with something I kinda like based on the "right to be forgotten" laws....
posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Actually wait I was literally asking a lawyer today for legal advice on a SF story that wouldn't be an out of place BM subplot.

Maybe I am just as guilty.
posted by The Whelk at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2015


(Tee he BM)
posted by The Whelk at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


An Oldie but a Goodie
Digital technology corrupts society, creating a horrifying distopia. An old white man is discovered frozen in a glacier; when thawed out, people realise that he holds in his hand a discontinued "flip phone," with actual buttons, which only makes calls. He is hailed as a God-Messiah, and rules all of Earth, dispensing scathing wisdom about modern fashions and popular so-called "music".

Half a World Away
In a digital future, everything has been reduced to ones and zeros. The two numerals fight a thousand-year war for supremacy, but eventually realise that truth is somewhere in between. They thus merge into a new entity, 0.5. All digital devices stop working, and we find that just sitting' on the porch, talkin' to old friends and watchin' the sunset has its charms too.

Flowers for Martin Amis
A famous writer is given a smartphone for his Birthday. His writing becomes corrupted by cliched txt speech, an nxt bk is just 140 chrcters long :( But ppl give him flwrs cos its so gr8!!! LOL.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:54 PM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I always thought that "The Tower" episode from 'Da Vinci's Demons' was a nice play on Black Mirrors first episode.
posted by clavdivs at 4:59 PM on January 20, 2015


Actually wait I was literally asking a lawyer today for legal advice on a SF story that wouldn't be an out of place BM subplot.
The Whelk

As an attorney who loves SF this makes me very curious about your story...
posted by Sangermaine at 5:16 PM on January 20, 2015


Starving Competition
Boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected by lottery every year to compete in a fight to the death. The sole survivor is rewarded with fame and wealth and then executed.

Backhand Kingdom
A man travels to a forgotten planet to receive fight training. He later uses his skills to kill a person who turns out to be his mother.
posted by unliteral at 5:21 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ugh, this article. I've never been a fan of Slate-style smugly-contrarian "this widely admired thing totally sucks," but at least they have the decency to back up their criticisms with argument. This is more parody than criticism, and very weak parody at that, since the faux episodes bear hardly any resemblance to the horror, cleverness, and emotion in the actual show. You can make anything sound stupid by boiling it down to infantile, intentionally incoherent soundbites like that.

Compare to something like Modern Seinfeld, which actually captures the spirit of the show in a fraction of the space.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:52 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I tried very hard to like Black Mirror. I watched the first two seasons, and it never clicked for me. I never thought it was saying anything new. It didn't evoke any emotion other than deadened gloom, and that's not productive at all. Not even a sense of horror, just resigned gloom.

They don't hold a single candle to Ted Chiang's stories, who I invoke because 1) short stories, 2) speculative fiction and 3) Black Mirror's The Entire History of You is Chiang's "Story Of Your Life," except conventional and boring, with nothing like the sting in the tail that Chiang's story does.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:23 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I even enjoyed Tom Scott's speculative fiction story "Single Point of Failure" more than most of Black Mirror, and that's just one geek with a PowerPoint.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:36 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Black Mirror Ideas - the future is fucked up, man.
posted by unliteral at 6:41 PM on January 20, 2015


BungaDunga, "Story of Your Life" is fantastic, but do you mean "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling"? It's much more like "The Entire History of You," what with the omnipresent searchable memory implants.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:42 PM on January 20, 2015


They don't hold a single candle to Ted Chiang's stories

That's kind of like dissing webisodes because they aren't Shakespere. It's true while being unhelpful.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:46 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


BungaDunga, "Story of Your Life" is fantastic, but do you mean "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling"? It's much more like "The Entire History of You," what with the omnipresent searchable memory implants.

Oops, yes, that's the one.

That's kind of like dissing webisodes because they aren't Shakespere. It's true while being unhelpful

Black Mirror was reaching for high concept, tightly produced, polished, smart short storytelling to make a point about the human condition. I didn't think it succeeded. Ted Chiang's stories reach for the same thing in a different medium, and I think they succeed wildly.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:07 PM on January 20, 2015


The Xmas one is pretty good. Jon Hamm is a helluvan actor, does ingratiating
sleaze to perfection (which is more character actor wheelhouse than leading man territory, imo).
posted by Chitownfats at 7:15 PM on January 20, 2015


It didn't evoke any emotion other than deadened gloom, and that's not productive at all. Not even a sense of horror, just resigned gloom.

I gather that 'resigned gloom' is the official emotion of the United Kingdom these days.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:43 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Needs a Royal warrant.
posted by clavdivs at 8:05 PM on January 20, 2015


What is Dr Who?

Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:14 PM on January 20, 2015


like none of you snobs ever fucked a pig before
posted by um at 8:34 PM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


If you aren't watching Black Mirror in the context of Charlie Brooker's entire body of work - his video-games journalism, television reviewing for the Guardian, column-writing for the Guardian, TV Go Home, Unnovations, Screenwipe and its successor Wipes, 10 O'Clock Live, You Have Been Watching, How TV Ruined Your Life, Nathan Barley, Dead Set, A Touch of Cloth, even his Twitter feed - then you're missing half the pleasure that it gives his core UK audience.

I gather that 'resigned gloom' is the official emotion of the United Kingdom these days.

Indeed. And Brooker is its official ironic spokesman.

But note well: he married an ex-presenter from Blue Peter (long-running BBC kids' show). And he rarely wrote or spoke more revealingly than in his paeans to Oliver Postgate.

I love what I've seen of Mallory Ortberg's work so far, but if this is going to be a trans-Atlantic grudge-match, Brooker has a ten-year-plus head-start of cumulative greatness.
posted by rory at 5:17 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you don't like it, you don't like it. Though I wonder what's the nationality break down of people who did and didn't enjoy it.

I feel that Brooker is too smart for the simplistic, what If mobile phones but too much reading. Black Mirror is about people, less the technology.
posted by Braeburn at 5:17 AM on January 21, 2015


On posting, exactly what Rory said. I grew up with Connie huqs on blue Peter, and their work together and marriage are all useful context for Black Mirror.
posted by Braeburn at 5:19 AM on January 21, 2015


I mean, how can you not love Charlie Brooker's best ever book cover.

Annoyingly, they changed the photo for the paperback.
posted by rory at 5:23 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the recommendations. I watched 'The Entire History of You', and it was AWESOME!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:36 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]




A popular thing is actually flawed and not as brilliant as its enthusiastic devotees claim?

I agree with you, but people really like The Toast around here. Go figure.
posted by Grangousier at 6:35 AM on January 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


And I always thought that they chickened out not giving Nathan Barley its original TV Go Home title (which was Cunt).
posted by Grangousier at 6:38 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Charlie Brooker wrote about the thinking behind series one at the time. On episode one:

This was inspired partly by the kerfuffle over superinjunctions, and partly by the strange out-of-control sensation that takes grip on certain news days – such as the day Gordon Brown was virtually commanded to apologise to Gillian Duffy in front of the rolling news networks. Who was in charge that day? No one and everyone.

Knowing the UK context of the time (2009, 2010, 2011) helps. Also:

The "black mirror" of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone. The series was inspired, indirectly, by The Twilight Zone.

And here's an interview from the time. The title came "both from the Arcade Fire song and from the idea of a TV turned off – an unsettling image which perhaps implies your expensive flat-screen is nothing but a grim, 2001-style black obelisk reflecting the crushing void that is your life".

When it’s put to Brooker – himself an active Tweeter – that the show could be read as a warning about Twitter itself as a destructive force in our lives, he laughs it off. Is he pessimistic about technology and the future of our species? “Probably less than people think. Not really, no. I think if I was really pessimistic I’d write things that were really cheerful to drag myself out of it – not that there aren’t elements of joy in all of these.”

Here's Brooker on series one and series two at the Channel 4 site.
posted by rory at 7:42 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


We just watched the first episode a couple of days ago and I'm definitely in the DO NOT WANT camp. Not only because of the rapes (the pig gets raped, the Prime Minister is coerced into sex he absolutely doesn't want, which qualifies as rape in my book, and whatever's left of his relationship with his wife is irrevocably destroyed.) but because I couldn't figure out why everyone was behaving the way they were.

Why were his aides so weird about telling him what the demand was? Why did they make him watch the demand tape to find out, instead of telling him ahead of time? The whole thing felt like what you'd do for a comedy (draw things out waaaay too long at the expense of reality) but it wasn't particularly funny and wasn't filmed as though it was supposed to be funny.

Then I started wondering if it was a cultural thing. If I imagined the whole episode taking place in Japan, for instance, I would have excused a lot more of the odd reactions & motivations of the characters. Probably because I think of Japan as being more worried about "face" and also because I give cultures I'm not familiar a pass on odd reactions in a way I don't with British. But maybe I should.

Imagine the same thing playing out with Obama- that would be completely different again, I would think. I can almost imagine the American version going something like: I don't have time to fuck the pig tomorrow at 4- just give it to me now, we'll film it and you can broadcast it tomorrow...

But realistically it would be "We don't negotiate with terrorists" all the way down, in both countries I suspect.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:21 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


bibliowench: if you want me to try your show, don't fuck a pig in the first episode
*adds to download queue*
posted by IAmBroom at 9:25 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Made sense to me. The demand was so absurd that they wanted to make it absolutely clear how deadly serious the situation was before they disclosed it. (Also they were probably mortified to say it out loud -- reminds me of that endlessly-parodied Downfall scene where Hitler's generals are tiptoeing around the reality of their situation and can barely bring themselves to say so.)
posted by Rhaomi at 10:06 AM on January 21, 2015


The hunker-bunker shuffle.
posted by clavdivs at 10:47 AM on January 21, 2015


Why were his aides so weird about telling him what the demand was?
I thought it was them being uncomfortable with the knowledge that the Prime minister was effectively being ordered to do as he's fucking told by the monarch.
posted by fullerine at 11:43 AM on January 21, 2015


So they made him watch it instead of forewarning him? I guess I wouldn't think hard facts would be something a PM would want his aides to feel they had to pussy foot around. Maybe if he were king and could cut off their heads or something.

Maybe I'm just appalled at the idea that people at such a high level would be so squeamish about communicating with the guy who's in their charge. But maybe I have an unrealistic idea of professionalism. I read all the time about politicians who act completely unprofessionally.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:57 PM on January 21, 2015


Well, my comment was based on my experience with nearly every single bit of television or film I've seen come out of the UK (great as much of it has been), for years now.

I lived in various parts of UK for about a year total, way back when, in chunks. I know just how diverse it is, and how much good there is there, but these days: well, if the face that one shows to the world is miserable, then it's not out of line to expect that people will think you actually are.

That said, America isn't all explosions and firearms and porn, nor is Korea all girl-groups and revenge murderin', so grain of salt, I know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:53 PM on January 21, 2015


Mighty Boosh though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:58 AM on January 22, 2015


America isn't all explosions and firearms and porn

politely disagree
posted by Greg Nog at 10:03 AM on January 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


When you go into the middle there's Jesus and flags as well.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on January 22, 2015


When you go into the middle there's Jesus and flags as well.

You are forgetting the barbecue, guys.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Corn festivals are convincing.
posted by clavdivs at 12:58 PM on January 22, 2015




Oh, I see it's go it's own FPP.
posted by Artw at 11:50 PM on February 10, 2015


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