Some thoughts on Black Mirror (dystopia, power and love)

This isn’t a review as such, but I keep coming back to half literate, rambling conversations on this.  I guess something about it bothered me. 

I stopped watching Black Mirror – Charlie Brooker’s satirical trilogy after the first episode.   Not because I thought it was badly written (though I did find it hammy and clunky; apparently not a cut on The Thick of It or Brass Eye).

But that’s not why I stopped watching it, I just stopped watching because it made me sad.  It made me really sad.   And I’m going to be honest.  I could really do without that just at the moment.  Because right now the world is sad enough.

I have a theory that most cynics are just broken hearted optimists.  By which I guess I mean that the anger comes from a place of disappointment.  Of wanting better and being let down.

That I get.  I have a lot of anger, which comes from frustration of seeing things being fucked up and not being able to do a damn thing about them.  Anger doesn’t tend to come from a place of power;  anger tends to be what you get left with when you lose it. 

But the thing is…I think we are powerful.   At least more powerful than we realise.  And that the changes we can make upon the world might not be as big or as instant as we’d like, but they do matter.  Maybe they are the only thing that matters.  And if you don’t believe that, believe this.  That there are a lot of people who have a lot invested in us feeling powerless.   In us stepping back, giving up, and leaving the world to them.  I want to give those people hell. 

This makes me think of Keiran Hurley’s solo theatre piece Hitch (which you should see btw, because it’s wonderful); where he recounts seeing Patti Smith in concert and an brief but intense  moment of optimism listening to the line ‘The people have  the power; to redeem the work of fools’. …and I think of how we can sustain ourselves on those moments.   

This brings me to questions I can’t answer.  Something about the role/place of art.  Because dystopian fiction is valid, clearly.   1984 and Brave New World are some of my very favourites.  In a painful sort of a way.  And I’m really not sure that we should be encouraging people to produce art which is ‘good’ for people (just because it tends to result in some terrifically bad art).    So maybe it’s just a timing thing..

Because all I know is that I look out the window and things are pretty fucking bad right now.  And I have more than a slight suspicion that they are going to get harder.  The amount of energy it takes me to stop myself from falling into a place where I believe that we are all totally and inevitably fucked, sometimes scares me. 

I think, ultimately, the thing that really bothered me about Black Mirror was that it seemed to come from a place which had lost hope.  And maybe it’s not fair to make comparisons but this, for my money, is why I’d always, always pick Hicks over Brooker.  Because as dark, as brutal, as mad as hell as Hicks could get, he never lost sight of this point… That for all the corruption, incompetence, stupidity and lies in the world. People can be good. 

His work is full of love.  You can feel it seeping up through the cracks, always.

And maybe, more than anything else, that’s what we need right now.


About Rachel

zinester/diy-til-i-die/love hate relationship with arts admin/girlpunkfeminist/geek
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3 Responses to Some thoughts on Black Mirror (dystopia, power and love)

  1. Sanghasong says:

    Wise words my frend…makes me think lots of associated thoughts I wont have time to write but for starters ( never seen the programme but I know the depressing stylee), like you suggest, much of this kind of stuff doesnt have the intelligent sense of ambiguity that you need not to feel psychically sick, like youve caught a horrible cynicitis disease….from the supposedly clever Office to HIGNFY..( who was it who coined the phrase laughing ourselves to death??) Entertainment for a boring ( alienated?) friday night in where you might try to reassure yourself that you understand what is important and the inside track but its disempowering you just as much to. So many of us seem overwhelmed by life, or maybe become passive just like animals in cages long term and we sort of give up being too challenged. Maybe this stuff gives you licence to do that which is partly why its so popular? xx

  2. Sanghasong says:

    and ‘ a writer needs self belief and self doubt in equal measure’ just read little e piece of relevance by Jackie Kay.

  3. Thanks for your lovely comments 😀
    I don’t think I ever felt the same way about HIGNFY after Boris got elected somehow….
    (and Jackie Kay is one inspirational lady) x

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