Sunday, 3 January 2016

Black Mirror, Season 1: All we know is fake fodder and buying shit

Just some IMDB comments I do agree with:

"...Creepy and disturbing, but amazing, and probably the best one ever produced. "Black Mirror" paints an unsettling future, which is closer to us than we think.

...mix of bleak sci-fi, drama, satire and black comedy. It is not a relaxing show, but it challenges the audience to think about how human beings can be fooled by their own inventions.

...Absolutely brilliant. This is NOT anti-utopian, it is an actual mirror of a utopian idea gone terribly wrong. I would call this sci-fi in the richest sense of the genre.... it is not about science, but how science affects human beings. The one thing that never seems to change is us. Technology evolves, mutates, advances and declines, but human beings, our feelings, our courage, fears, and desires remain within us.

...Black Mirror is disturbing in the best possible way."

01х01 The National Anthem
Who was in charge that day? No one and everyone.

Prime Minister Michael Callow faces a shocking dilemma when Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the Royal Family, is kidnapped.

• The only episode of the show that takes place in the present.

• While David Cameron, Hameron and pig gate were trending highly on Twitter last night, many were speculating that show creator Charlie Brooker had either heard the rumour previously – or possessed some sort of magical oracle powers: "Just to clear it up: nope, I’d never heard anything about Cameron and a pig when coming up with that story. So this weirds me out." - source

— We've got her. Susannah.
Alex Cairns: They released her?
— Stumbling about in the city. Sedated. She can't remember anything, but she's unharmed.

— But her finger?
— Not hers. DNA shows it's male.
— What?!
— There is one other thing. There's a CCTV grab of her from half three. It seems he let her go 30 minutes before it happened.
— Why?
— My guess... he knew everyone would be elsewhere watching screens.
— So it's a statement. That's what this was all about, making a point.

TV reporter: 'It was one year ago that the Turner Prize-winning artist, Carlton Bloom, coerced the Prime Minister into committing an indecent act. As the anniversary arrived, one art critic caused controversy by describing it as "the first great artwork of the 21st century".

While cultural commentators debate its significance, with a global audience of 1.3 billion, it was an event in which we all participated. However, the incident failed to destroy a Prime Minister, who holds an approval rating three points higher than last year.
Damon Brown, UKN.'

01x02 Fifteen Million Merits

After failing to impress the judges on a reality talent show, a woman must either perform degrading acts or return to a slave-like existence.

[Huxley and Orwell united...
“As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.” - source]

Trivia: The song Abi Kahn sings during "Fifteen Million Merits" is "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)", recorded by Irma Thomas in 1964.

Swift (to Bing, about an apple): Almost the only real thing in there, and even that's grown in a Petri dish.

Abi: Can't you just use that CPT app?
Bing: What's that?
Abi: This cognitive behavioural thing. It realigns your thinking to pick healthy food. Whispers you into it while you sleep.

Bing: Stop or I'll do it. This is a main artery. Keep walking, you kill me. No-one stops me till I've said my piece. Then you can do what you like.
[Crowd chants] Speak! Speak! Speak! Speak! Speak!

Bing: I haven't got a speech. I didn't plan words. I didn't even try to... I just knew I had to get here, to stand here, and I wanted you to listen. To really listen, not just pull a face like you're listening, like you do the rest of the time. A face that you're feeling instead of processing. You pull a face, and poke it towards the stage, and we lah-di-dah, we sing and dance and tumble around. And all you see up here, it's not people, you don't see people up here, it's all fodder. And the faker the fodder, the more you love it, because fake fodder's the only thing that works any more. It's all that we can stomach. Actually, not quite all.
Real pain, real viciousness, that, we can take. Yeah, stick a fat man up a pole. We laugh ourselves feral, because we've earned the right, we've done cell time and he's slacking, the scum, so ha-ha-ha at him! Because we're so out of our minds with desperation, we don't know any better. All we know is fake fodder and buying shit. That's how we speak to each other, how we express ourselves, is buying shit. What, I have a dream? The peak of our dreams is a new app for our Dopple, it doesn't exist! It's not even there! We buy shit that's not even there.

Show us something real and free and beautiful. You couldn't. Yeah? It'd break us. We're too numb for it. I might as well choke. It's only so much wonder we can bear. When you find any wonder whatsoever, you dole it out in meagre portions. Only then until it's augmented, packaged, and pumped through 10,000 preassigned filters till it's nothing more than a meaningless series of lights, while we ride day in day out, going where? Powering what? All tiny cells and tiny screens and bigger cells and bigger screens and fuck you!

Fuck you, that's what it boils down to. Fuck you for sitting there and slowly making things worse. Fuck you and your spotlight and your sanctimonious faces. Fuck you all for thinking the one thing I came close to never meant anything. For oozing around it and crushing it into a bone, into a joke. One more ugly joke in a kingdom of millions. Fuck you for happening. Fuck you for me, for us, for everyone. Fuck you!
Judge Hope: That was, without a doubt, the most heartfelt thing I've seen on this stage since Hotshot began!

01х03 The Entire History of You

In the near future, everyone has access to a memory implant that records everything they do, see and hear - a sort of Sky Plus for the brain. You need never forget a face again - but is that always a good thing?

- Helen doesn't have a Grain!
[everyone] Oh, wow! Wow! No shit! Was that a political thing?
Helen: No, no, I was gouged about 12 months ago.
- Jesus, was that painful?
Helen: Total agony. But on the plus of that, I don't remember it that clearly. There's a scar on here.
- Yeah, can I, er...? Yeah, that feels quite nice. [THEY CHUCKLE] Yeah, no brain damage, clearly!
Helen: Well, my sight held on fine, so...
So, who took it then?
Helen: Stolen to order, as far as they could tell, probably to some millionaire Chinese perve. [...] The thing is, after I was gouged I didn't have one for a few days and then just kind of, liked it. It's cool.

* * *
Charlie Brooker (2011):
Every life includes significant landmarks: your first kiss, your first job, your first undetected murder. Maybe that's just me. Anyway, last week I experienced a more alarming first: my first unironic conversation with a machine.
I was using the new iPhone, the one with Siri, the built-in personal assistant you talk to. You hold down a button and mutter something like "Set the alarm for eight in the morning," or "Remind me to ring Gordon later," and Siri replies, "OK, I'll do that for you," using the voice of Jon Briggs, better known as the voice of The Weakest Link. And he sets everything up, just the way you wanted.

Siri is a creep – a servile arselick with zero self-respect – but he works annoyingly well. Which is why, last week, I experienced that watershed moment: for the first time, I spoke to a handheld device unironically. Not for a laugh, or an experiment, but because I wanted it to help me.

So that's that. I can now expect to be talking to machines for the rest of my life. Today it's Siri. Tomorrow it'll be a talking car. The day after that I'll be trading banter with a wisecracking smoothie carton. By the time I'm 70 I'll be holding heartbreaking conversations with synthesised imitations of people I once knew who have subsequently died. Maybe I'll hear their voices in my head. Maybe that's how it'll be.

The present day is no less crazy. We routinely do things that just five years ago would scarcely have made sense to us. We tweet along to reality shows; we share videos of strangers dropping cats in bins; we dance in front of Xboxes that can see us, and judge us, and find us sorely lacking. It's hard to think of a single human function that technology hasn't somehow altered, apart perhaps from burping. That's pretty much all we have left. Just yesterday I read a news story about a new video game installed above urinals to stop patrons getting bored: you control it by sloshing your urine stream left and right. Read that back to yourself and ask if you live in a sane society.

Like an addict, I check my Twitter timeline the moment I wake up. And often I wonder: is all this really good for me? For us? None of these things have been foisted upon humankind – we've merrily embraced them. But where is it all leading? If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects?

This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. 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.

That's what we're aiming for with Black Mirror: each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they're all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy. And if there's one thing we know about mankind, it's this: we're usually clumsy. And it's no use begging Siri for help. He doesn't understand tearful pleading. Trust me, I've tried. - source

see also: Black Mirror - Season 2
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