Hey, Watch This! episode 34

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4 Responses

  1. Jordi Arilla says:

    MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ALL BLACK MIRROR FIRST SEASON’S EPISODES (the national anthem, 15 Million merits, and the entire story of you).

    Here’s a couple of thoughts about Black Mirror. I know it’s too long. Feel free to reject it if you think that I’m abusing this space.

    In your take on “The national anthem” I think that you forget to mention the richest point of the story: It all has happened only because people were watching it. We’re told that the princess is released before “the act” takes place, and it is clear that if only there had been somebody on the street to meet her (instead of waiting for the broadcast in front of a screen) the whole thing could have been stopped immediately. I think this can be seen as a comment about the old “audience vs. media” discussion: People watch trash entertainment because it’s on tv – Media broadcasts trash because people watch it… Well, in this case trash itself happens because of both.

    I also like that it’s all a contemporary artist mad performance, which justifies the whole thing, and so ballsy that it actually beats all the boring scandal-craving Abramovics and Emins of this world at their own game.

    Finally, it’s also quite funny how the story echoes perversely the fairy tale: In order to free the princess, kissing a frog won’t be enough this time; more involvement is going to be needed.

    The third one “The entire story of you” is the deepest and most touching. I appreciate the depiction of this couple’s tragic dynamics driven by the guy’s pathological jealousy and how he is so good at causing the maximum offense with the minimum amount of words, the acting is painfully good and the ending heartbreaking, but I think that “15 Million merits” is the smartest, and thus my favorite (my “Watchie”?).

    I like a lot of things about “15M merits”. It’s quite impressive how it manages to present in less than 60 minutes sharp commentaries on virtual nonsense, cheap entertainment (talent show and hate show), publicity, porn, mass conformity and the taming and commercialization of dissent, and rearrange all these elements from real life to create a smart SF dystopian scenario: a closed economy based on the exchange of energy for worthless virtual treats and entertainment, where the talent show is an institutionalized way of social promotion. Forget about your slashers and zombies; this is real terror.

    But what strikes me as genius is how the writers reuse and transform several themes through the episode to tell the story. It’s the economy and tightness of the writing that amazes me. For instance, the failing vending machine, the penguin (for me, not only a symbol, but also a hint that reveals the meaning of the final image of the episode), and, specially, the publicity+porn theme: The hilarious initial joke (you have to pay to avoid the ads or you’ll be literally forced to watch them), Bing’s fail to resist the temptation later, the embarrassing incident in the bathroom, and finally the tragic scene where he can’t avoid watching Abi being abused, which is so revolting at this point, when it used to be depicted as only a slightly regrettable act that you can actually joke about (I felt a finger severely pointing at me here)… I find it a masterfully devised script and the best of the series from this point of view.

    If you feel like you need more Brooker, I recommend his TV criticism show “screenwipe”. It’s really funny stuff, yet thought provoking often, and it’s available on Youtube.

    One last thing, why do you guys spend so much time talking about the weakest episode of the series? Are there any previous podcast episodes about Black Mirror?

    Ok, I’m gonna do some stationary biking now.

    Bon any i salut!

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      The only reason I don’t count “15 Million Merits” as the best is that it’s rather predictable. As I said on the show, the world is so completely realized that the predictability is softened but I still knew where it was going.

      We focused on “The Waldo Moment” because that was the one that aired that week.

      – David

      • Jordi Arilla says:

        SPOILERS FOR BLACK MIRROR (Season 1) and GAME OF THRONES (season 1)

        well, Bing’s little rebellion and its defeat were quite predictable indeed (I think it’s the first time since the original “Rocky” that a training montage fails though), but certainly I didn’t see the porn theme’s ugly turn coming (I didn’t see the dragons coming in Game of Thrones either; apparently the fact that the Khaleesi had been carrying dragon EGGS for a season was not enough of a hint for me… maybe I am just thick!).

        I don’t value unpredictability that much, anyway, and most of the episodes of the series are fatalistic cautionary tales rather than last-minute surprise deliverers. After all, this is a series that reflects on technology, media and society, not a Shyamalan film or a thriller… I love “The entire story of you” too, and I’m really curious about its US adaptation.

        happy new year to all the crew!

        Salut!

  2. Rob says:

    I was yelling at my iPod the whole time Paul was telling David about the homage episodes of Psych. David, there’s a great episode that is an homage to Hitchcock. If you’re interested in Psych, check it out.

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