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Black Mirror

10/11/2015

Black Mirror

“No TV?”
“No TV.”
“Good night.”
“Good night Kenny”.

Face-to-face or over the phone, my conversations with Kenny tend to follow well worn paths.

What time I went to bed last night. What the weather is like. Recent progress at any of the three building sites near his Carrington home. Rumours about impending demolitions and renovations. What activities the adult day care centre he attends had put on today. What he’d just watched on television. Whether I’d bought a TV yet.

Since his eighty two year old mother died earlier this year, leaving him to share a three bedroom suburban terrace with an ancient Jack Russell named Peter, Kenny’s been asking me about death. Can his friends die? Can Peter die? Can I die? Can he die? Can trees die? Can buildings die? Can the sun die? Can the sky die? Can God die?

Kenny is an avid philosopher.

But one thing he can’t get his head around is that I neither have nor want a television. It’s incomprehensible to him that I don’t share my life with a chattering box full of colours and stories. Unless I had something covering a whole wall that does the same thing.

It’d be no use trying to tell him most of what’s on isn’t worth watching. Isn’t watching anything better than watching nothing? Or complain about how it draws attention and kills conversation. We both live alone. What else is there to pay attention or talk to?

Besides, even though both of those things are true, they’re not the real reason I don’t like television. What I really don’t like about TV is the way it uses a shallow, sensationalist media to blend corporate and political propaganda into a towering wave of bullshit that constantly seeks to engulf us. My other criticisms of it are just being picky.

So I don’t own a TV and I generally try to avoid watching them. Of course that’s impossible and I know far more about what’s on television than I want to, courtesy of various medical waiting rooms and the living rooms of friends like Kenny.

But every now and then I hear about something on television that sounds interesting. A news story, interview, lecture, concert, etc that I wouldn’t mind watching. Occasionally there’s even a TV series that attracts my attention. Like The Wire. So I download and watch it on the computer.

Fahaad Humayun recently recommended a British TV series called Black Mirror because he wanted to prove he isn’t the only one completely fed up with humanity. I might like something like that. So I got the first two seasons.

I knew Charlie Brooker’s work mostly from the smart, satirical columns he writes for The Guardian but I’d heard he’d made a well received TV series about a zombie apocalypse too. I’d also vaguely noted he’d made a sci-fi series  but Black Mirror had mostly passed me by.

The first episode is pretty mediocre. Yeah, good acting and production values. A scathing indictment of how machine politics, the 24 hour news cycle and social media interact to create the cynical and obscene spectacle that  so mesmerises us. But in the end it’s just the prime minister fucking a pig. Yawn.

But the second episode is the sort of undiluted horror that throws our entire society into grotesque, sinister relief. Just the way I like it.

You live in a small cubicle completely surrounded with ceiling to floor video screens. Every waking hour you’re bombarded with a non-stop flow of promotions, pornography and disgusting, degrading reality TV. If you try to block it out you’re sonically, visually and psychologically tortured until you relent and “Resume Viewing!”. Human interaction is almost non-existent. Everyone lives the same empty life as you so conversation is redundant.

You can buy brief respites from media hell with ‘merits’ earned by mindlessly pedaling the huge batteries of ‘bikes’ to generate the power needed to maintain the constant consumerist assault. Merits are also used to buy junk food, apps and accessories for your Doppel, the cartoon avatar that represents you to others (i.e. your two-dimensional social identity). But if you save 15 million merits you can buy a ticket to physically participate in one of these humiliating spectacles. Why? For the slim chance you might gain enough fame and approval to escape your soul-destroying existence into celebrity status and … another circle of hell.

A nice touch to Brooker and Huq’s dystopian damnation is that there’s no Satan. At first it seems the role of O’Brien is to be filled by the sneering, psychopathic talent quest judge. (Hey Rupert, why do you suppose the Australian accent has become an internationally recognised symbol of everything despicable about the popular media?) But in a moment of pathos he too reveals his helplessly suffering humanity crushed under the implacable logic of The System. Then the machine closes around him and suffering again becomes just another spectacle to sell to the suffering masses.

I like unrelentingly depressing, negative and hopeless stories like that. They entertain and distract me. Lucky they’re not real, eh?

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From → unclassified

21 Comments
  1. Hi tHere.. my old friend.. Cabrogal.. When my health was bad I too derived some black pleasure from reflecting on the ‘black mirror’ parts of culture.. fortunately i regained my health and keep my distance from that.. now.. however.. yes it is still real.. and perhaps it is your indigenous roots echoing a voice of Karma… saying Yay.. what comes around goes around now.. see it all around you.. you ignorant fools.. you blew it all up.. to paraphrase Charleston Heston from ‘the Planet of the Apes’.. but in your case you are still the locals riding the horse.. wondering what the hell Charleston’s problem is with that beautiful girl on the back of his horse.. sure she can’t talk.. butt…. yeah… anyway….

    Balance…

    Nature will have her balance.. no matter what tiny human beings THINK they are doing to control her.. Nature is in control.. always in ways of cycles of reproduction.. and stress in the womb is a natural signal to reduce any social mammal population.. and the best way to do that.. is to limit moving connecting and creating in human terms.. which definitely includes the propensity for human sexual intercourse.. and research from Andrew Whitehouse.. et al.. in Australia.. indicates that stress in the womb.. does limit human social interactions later in life.. in ways of quiet boys.. overall.. and girls who are more like boys.. longitudinal research ongoing…

    The youth of Japan are certainly at this place..
    with marrying age folks who are adopting robot dogs..
    moving from furry dogs as child substitutes in
    strollers so one need not worry
    over poop and pee..
    and icky.. youth
    increasingly
    aversive
    to the
    Bill
    Clinton
    Def. of Sex…
    and clean up crews taking
    care of elderly adults with
    no connections in flesh
    and blood life
    dying in
    their
    solitary
    apartments..
    from the rest of flesh and blood life.. that’s a really black mirror to end in.. my friend.. no doubt….

    Oh.. the instant gratification of life.. a constant stream of behavioral addictions no less powerful for folks who have lost their ability to move.. connect and create than opiates my friend.. and sure this screen i am sitting in front of right now is no different.. but turn it and my wife’s TV all off and who knows my wife and i might get bored enough to have sex for the first time in over two years.. yeah I remember a dry spell.. back in ’95.. a Hurricane Erin came through.. power went off and ‘the act’ comes back.. after the Hurricane comes.. Oh the power of electricity.. and the weakness of it too…

    Yes.. that’s Nature’s pill for the problem of human’s taking more than they give.. as long as they don’t leave children.. they end up leaving.. to a greater degree than staying.. and true a major source of eventual human misery and suffering present in ways of chronic illness.. including school age children assessed as pre-type-two diabetic closing in on rates of one-third of that demographic.. skyrocketing rates of psychotropic drugs to treat chronic depression and anxiety among adults and children.. and all of that too.. factors in on reducing the overall fertility rate.. longitudinally speaking…

    And oh yeah.. pain and more pain.. much of it psychosomatic in origin of an over-stressed.. over-stimulated population that continues to lose mind and body balance in ways of emotional regulation and sensory integration.. so close to half of the adult population uses some kind of pain killer chronically.. and more when one adds in chronic alcohol abuse.. the legal kind of pain killer of escape into the mix…

    And yeah.. it’s hilarious..

    I am diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome..

    And i am seriously one of the most social folks in my entire area…

    Dancing everywhere one goes is the most social behavior possible
    instinctually and intuitively a human can do.. smiles.. simply
    ’cause almost everyone in my entire metro area
    can recognize me by my flesh and blood
    features wherever i go..
    in a 30 mile radius
    among
    several hundred
    thousand people..
    they share me
    on Facebook
    everywhere
    they go
    too..
    in a dead
    screen of
    hell.. dancing
    is more fun..
    than any
    of this
    hell
    on
    line..
    but sure.. creative writing
    is fun for my brain.. an
    incredible
    opiate
    write
    know
    for me..

    Black Mirror society
    is here 30 years
    late but yes
    1984
    is
    here now
    O N L I N E
    ON
    S C R E E N S
    S C R E A M the
    painting is real too..
    in dead eye screams…
    And the tear of that italian
    Indian in that pollution commercial
    from the early 70’s is now a spear
    of comfort
    for the
    rest
    of
    nature.. saved by human ignorance forgotten
    what human even is moving.. connecting.. creating..
    take any of these three elements out means a lower
    TG for Nature per
    Human Fertility Rate..
    Yes power of
    M times C
    times C
    MCC
    equals
    Babies..
    Full Zombies don’t
    have babies.. they
    just consume
    each other
    to
    dust..
    it’s fun being
    Neo for now
    without children..
    Nature at least.. is happy with me.. this way.. and i Love Nature..
    including other humans no matter how ZombieYes they have
    become as yes.. they are part of the solution
    of the the virus of human cultures
    that take more
    than they
    give
    from Mother Nature.. so yeah..
    long die the Zombies.. they are
    their own devil in
    disguise…
    The apocalypse 1984
    is hear.. like a thief
    in the
    Night
    Online.. on screens
    of screams of HELL..
    Nature smiles a
    happy refrain
    of Yaasss..
    as sHe
    survives
    easy peacey…:)

    Like

  2. fahaad humayun permalink

    My girlfriend didnt have a TV at her home and she didnt use to watch it too. and she was just 22. She hated the TV and news cycle and everything. Big deal. A lot of people know TV is a satan.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah well, we haven’t actually had a TV in our lives for about 5 years and the ease of it is amazing – stretch out on a long sofa with a book and a cup of tea. Even more so when I think of those addicted to TV maybe because it was thought to be the right thing to do and I can picture it in my mind so to speak. The only thing is when I step outside the quietude of these rooms and encounter the zombie horde of those with compusive push/shove behaviour, give-me, give-me grabbing things from other people; the defence system built to prevent that happening etc. I do my shopping quickly and get back to my quiet habitation and everything is ok.This determines my life, no choice really so I suppose I’m a prisoner pretty much like everybody else…

    Like

    • Yeah, there’s no escaping it.

      Rejecting manufactured mass culture isolates you from your fellow human beings. If you don’t know your celebrities, cricket scores and latest i-phone features you’ve got nothing to contribute to water-cooler conversation. A lot of people think not watching TV is the sign of a snob. They’re probably right.

      But if you do follow the line of least resistance you’re not really interacting with other people either. You’re just echoing at each other while your attention remains fixed on the endless vacuity spewing from the devices that keep you attached to the corporate umbilical.

      Whether you block your eyes and ears or “Resume viewing! Resume viewing! Resume viewing! …“, you remain profoundly alone.

      Like

  4. For Fox Sake permalink

    …..you seriously don’t believe that following the moving cursor on this screen
    and blogging is a cut above watching TV and any less amputating?

    Like

    • As Brooker makes clear, it’s all The Black Mirror.

      But some advantages of the internet over TV

      – The content is far more varied and subject to choice, even compared to 600 channels of pay TV shit

      – An unattended website isn’t likely to sit there demanding attention with sound and light shows calculated by marketing psychologists to be very difficult to ignore

      – If you keep viewing the internet while you have visitors you’re already so anti-social that you probably wouldn’t talk to them anyway

      – Shouting back at the internet isn’t a sign of psychotic illness

      Like

  5. For Fox Sake permalink

    I reckon it’s about time you gave us an update on your bunnies!

    Like

    • There’s a sad story there.

      Rakti died suddenly and unexpectedly in June.
      Ananda and Clover are still doing fine, though at nine years old Clover is starting to get arthritic.

      Like

  6. For Fox Sake permalink

    Humans are troop primates.

    Like

  7. For Fox Sake permalink

    Why is there never a third option? Do you have any words that
    don’t end in -cide?

    Like

    • None that offer closure.

      I mean it stands to reason don’t it?
      Sigmund Freud taught us that everyone is guilty.
      And Bruce Willis taught us that the problem ain’t solved until you’ve killed all the guilty ones.

      So the problem-solving ape is destined to solve itself out of existence. Once it’s wiped out all the other troop primates to ensure the mistake doesn’t recur. Shouldn’t be too long now.

      Like

  8. For Fox Sake permalink

    And how ironic that a place was found for you in that drug-trial so your
    life could be extended….merely for you to have the strength to bend over,
    spread your cheeks and kiss your arse goodbye!

    I crack myself up.

    Like

    • Not merely kiss my arse goodbye. It gave me the strength and determination to give everyone else the finger on my way out. My headstone’s gonna say “Wish you were here”.

      Like

  9. For Fox Sake permalink

    That’s because you’ve left your body to science, eh?

    Like

  10. WOW, I had this series downloaded but never watched it. I guess will start right now. Sounds good.

    Like

  11. For Fox Sake permalink

    Do you hear what I hear? The sound of grown-ups cursing as they mash
    their fingers with Allen keys putting together the billy-lids play sets.

    Hae a cool yule, dude!

    Like

    • I don’t hear anything any more. I’m ignoring my sensory input until the ubiquitous seasonal jingle hells subside into the usual mindless background drone of consumerist marketing. I’m bumping into things a bit but it’s better than flailing around in treacle-soaked greed.

      Besides, it’s a bit tough on the holy bastard, ain’t it? We celebrate his birth just after solstice then sacrifice him again the next Easter. Is it really worth it for the prezzies and chocolate?

      (BTW. I’m not trying to stigmatise him by referring to his parents’ marital status. Messiahs should be judged on merit, not family background.)

      Like

      • For Fox Sake permalink

        I was rather discombobulated, in my kid years, by
        the phenomenology of the growth spurt: from baby to grown male
        in 3-4 months?!!

        Well, bastard is a term of endearment in our great suffering land,
        innit?

        Like

        • I reckon he was genetically engineered, like those salmon that reach full size in seventeen seconds or whatever it is.

          If it hadn’t been for the firm measures taken by Judea’s anti-GM activists we’d probably have barns full of battery Jesuses now, filling our supermarkets with wine, loaves and fishes of dubious origin and putting family bakers, vintners and fishermen out of business.

          Like

        • It’s pretty odd when you think about it. Multiple redundant biblical accounts of newborn Jesus and Jesus in his thirties but nothing in between. You’d think a Messiah would have done something newsworthy in the intervening decades.

          No schoolboy Jesus casting bullies into swine. No teenage Jesus turning parsley to pot (*). No jobseeker Jesus miraculously creating enough positions for every applicant.

          Makes you wonder if he was up to something dodgy and that part of his biography was expunged on legal advice.

          (*) Actually there was a teenage Jesus. Perhaps these clips explain why they don’t like to talk about her.



          Like

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