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Thread: Black Mirror

  1. #1
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Black Mirror

    Watched the first couple episodes of Black Mirror.

    Didn't like it. It's really well made and all, but I found it too dark and cynical for my tastes these days.

  2. #2
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Yeah. No. I mean, you're entitled to your opinion blah blah but your opinion is wrong. LOL .

    Black Mirror is brilliant. It's a modern Twilight Zone with an acid edge. The second and third episodes are particularly well done and highly, highly fucking disturbing.

    I can't think of another tv show in the last 10 years-- especially a genre show-- that comes close to its level of writing.

    Edit: The Black Mirror Christmas special premieres on December 16 on Ch4 in the UK. It's three different stories, all starring Jon Hamm.

  3. #3
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    The first two episodes were just people being terrible to each other. Never got that vibe from Twilight Zone. I hear people call it a TZ for the modern era, so maybe that just means I don't jive with the modern era. That's fine.

    It's Ballardian, but without the sense of wonder and fascination with humanity that Ballard had.

    I'm going to watch a few more to see what else it has in store.

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    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Twilight Zone did mix cruelty into its delicious soup sometimes, but I'm kinda with D, in that the overwhelming feeling I get is a deep humanism and love for people and the human spirit. Its occasional bleak circumstances didn't often match to people being equally cruel to each other, but to oppressive social groups challenging a sympathetic hero.

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    Second star to the right [ETM]'s Avatar
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    We got a couple of friends over and watched first episode of Black Mirror, and, while everyone recognized the quality, it was depressing enough that none of us have seen more of it yet.

  7. #7
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Twilight Zone had different goals depending on the episode. It ran the gamut from satire to horror to sci-fi to fantasy.

    Black Mirror doesn't. It's straight sci-fi satire. It's angry and bitter, the way satire is intended to be. Almost all the episodes revolve around the effect of technology on people and social structures.

    Admittedly, the focus is much more narrow than The Twilight Zone. But that doesn't make one worse than the other. There's plenty of genre and satire in Serling's show if we look around. Cf: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, It's Good Life, The Living Doll, Time Enough to Last, Eye of the Beholder, etc.

    Those episodes didn't exhibit a "deep love of the human spirit." They were social commentaries meant to jolt the audience out of their complacency. That's what good genre work does. That's what Black Mirror does.

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    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    There's a persistent sneering in all Black Mirror episodes that I don't think was ever in Twilight Zone, which was more sincere with its social commentaries. Brooker's writing is just dripping with a combative sense of humor that makes me unsure if the commentary is to be taken seriously or if it's just exploiting a social aspect for laffs. Kind of like South Park a lot of times.

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    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    For me, Twilight Zone seems to be saying things about individuals, where as Black Mirror seems to be painting with a broader brush, trying to say something about all of humanity.

    However, with all of this said, I actually don't think that BM is anything at all like TZ. I had heard that it was, that's why I originally mentioned the two together. Had I never heard that, after watching the first two episodes of BM, I would have never made the comparison myself.

  10. #10
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting D_Davis (view post)
    For me, Twilight Zone seems to be saying things about individuals
    I dunno about that, at least when we're talking about the episodes that are most often cited as examples of TZ's social commentary. "I Am the Night-Color Me Black," "Maple Street," "Eye of the Beholder" and "The Shelter" seem to be more about society to me.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  11. #11
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Like I said, just the feelings I get when watching these.

    These days, I tend to be way more sensitive about things like violence and cynicism than I was when I was younger.

    All I can say is that TZ is my favorite all time show, and I can watch episode after episode without ever feeling bad about humanity. BM seemed to want to paint us as a terrible species not worth a damn. I just don't have time for that kind of stuff in my life these days.

    If I was all angsty, in my early 20s, I'd probably eat that shit up. My response to the show is more of a reflection of where I'm at, and less of a critique of the show itself.

  12. #12
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting number8 (view post)
    There's a persistent sneering in all Black Mirror episodes that I don't think was ever in Twilight Zone, which was more sincere with its social commentaries. Brooker's writing is just dripping with a combative sense of humor that makes me unsure if the commentary is to be taken seriously or if it's just exploiting a social aspect for laffs. Kind of like South Park a lot of times.
    Brooker doesn't feel any obligation to entertain you. He doesn't pander. He doesn't need to be liked. The first episode says all that, loudly. It's a giant fuck you to television audiences. Most American TV is deathly afraid they'll ever make anyone feel bad. Even stuff that feels edgy at times (In Living Color, South Park, The Chapelle Show) always lets the audience off the hook. Black Mirror doesn't, and I love it for that.

    Having watched Weekly Wipe & read some of Brooker's commentary in The Guardian, I don't think he's exploiting anything for laughs (say, the way Jon Stewart or John Oliver do). I think he's genuinely pissed at the state of the world.

  13. #13
    Too much responsibility Kurosawa Fan's Avatar
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    I watched the first two episodes of Black Mirror and hated them. Well produced and directed, sure, but pathetically misanthropic, with an edginess that lacks any real cut. The social commentary has all the nuance of a Hostel movie. "Let's find something to criticize. We'll start off with politicians and the royal family. Next let's criticize The X Factor and the internet age. Now think of the worst possible outcome in each episode, and there you have it!" I could see it appealing to high school kids with their bitter axe to grind. No thanks for me.

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    Too much responsibility Kurosawa Fan's Avatar
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    Oh, and comparing something like that to Twilight Zone is such a disservice to what Rod Serling created, I can only shake my head.

  15. #15
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Kurosawa Fan (view post)
    I watched the first two episodes of Black Mirror and hated them. Well produced and directed, sure, but pathetically misanthropic, with an edginess that lacks any real cut. The social commentary has all the nuance of a Hostel movie. "Let's find something to criticize. We'll start off with politicians and the royal family. Next let's criticize The X Factor and the internet age. Now think of the worst possible outcome in each episode, and there you have it!" I could see it appealing to high school kids with their bitter axe to grind. No thanks for me.
    Quote Quoting Kurosawa Fan (view post)
    Oh, and comparing something like that to Twilight Zone is such a disservice to what Rod Serling created, I can only shake my head.
    Glad I'm not alone.

  16. #16
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Kurosawa Fan (view post)
    The social commentary has all the nuance of a Hostel movie. "Let's find something to criticize. We'll start off with politicians and the royal family. Next let's criticize The X Factor and the internet age. Now think of the worst possible outcome in each episode, and there you have it!"
    I'm not sure it would be possible for someone to misread the intentions of these episodes more.

    The first episode wasn't about the Royal family. The second episode wasn't about "X-Factor" style shows. Those were only the vehicles by which Brooker talked about his topics. You may think the show appeals to "high school kids with an axe to grind", but I find your take on it to be a grade-school level analysis.

    And here I thought the shows were too obvious on a thematic level. But I guess they weren't. The problem with doing this stuff is that people expect (or rather: demand) to be entertained by it. And if you go too broad, they miss the point entirely (this is, I think, the issue the ultimately fucked with Dave Chappelle's head. He was doing arch satire and his fans reduced it to a catchphrase).

  17. #17
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Kurosawa Fan (view post)
    Oh, and comparing something like that to Twilight Zone is such a disservice to what Rod Serling created, I can only shake my head.
    Bear in mind the Twilight Zone had 156 episodes compared to Black Mirror's 6 (soon to be 9). Damu & number8 already pointed out it's a rough comparison, and I've already said why I think it's a comparison that still works.

    What astounds me is that the harshest critics in this thread haven't even watched Black Mirror's entire run, or even half of it.

  18. #18
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    I do think it's kind of amusing that both Davis and K-Fan stopped after 2 episodes, because the third one was widely considered the best of the first season, and the only one of the series not written by Brooker. It is also, I think, the least misanthropic, which probably explains why it's the only one getting an American remake.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  19. #19
    Too much responsibility Kurosawa Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    I'm not sure it would be possible for someone to misread the intentions of these episodes more.

    The first episode wasn't about the Royal family. The second episode wasn't about "X-Factor" style shows. Those were only the vehicles by which Brooker talked about his topics. You may think the show appeals to "high school kids with an axe to grind", but I find your take on it to be a grade-school level analysis.

    And here I thought the shows were too obvious on a thematic level. But I guess they weren't. The problem with doing this stuff is that people expect (or rather: demand) to be entertained by it. And if you go too broad, they miss the point entirely (this is, I think, the issue the ultimately fucked with Dave Chappelle's head. He was doing arch satire and his fans reduced it to a catchphrase).
    It was a lighthearted stab, Irish. I'm well aware that the royal family wasn't the target, but they were certainly criticized in the piece (with the queen herself stopping by to ask the Prime Minister to fuck the pig). Same goes with The X Factor. Not the target, but certainly heavily criticized. It has nothing to do with any level of entertainment or catchphrases or anything of the sort. I don't remember mentioning or asking for anything along that line, so I'm not sure why you would include that in your response.

    I'm constantly amazed by how personally you seem to take differences of opinion, Irish. I disagree with the effectiveness and the method of the show's satirization of humanity. I'm not insulting you for liking the show (or 8 or Winston*). I wasn't calling you a high schooler for finding the show effective. That's just my personal view of the sophistication of the satire. I'm sorry if you felt that way. Yet you feel it necessary to cherry pick a one paragraph rant for a few choice bits, act as though my rant was any form of serious analysis, and then call it grade school.

  20. #20
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan, actually. I enjoy watching them as sci-fi stories; they're pretty gripping and upsetting and that gets me going. But they're so set on making social commentaries that I don't find particularly useful. Social media/digital immersion satire almost always read as old man grousing to me, and this show is all about that shit.

    Actually, I can say that I disliked the "15 Million Merits" episode, because it's paying homage to Network but bases its tragedy on a point that Network not only already said, but actually went beyond. It also uses a trope I really hate, the use of porn as a shortcut to show the rock bottom of compromising with the system (ugh, speaking of, a lot of blogs are spreading around this one artist's work lately that shows scenes of gangbang porn where the cocks are replaced by smartphones because WE'RE ALL WHORES TO SOCIAL MEDIA MAN--god, I haaaaaaaate it). I like the world building sci-finess of it, but everything else seemed lazy.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
    Movie Theater Diary

  21. #21
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Kurosawa Fan (view post)
    I'm not insulting you for liking the show (or 8 or Winston*). I wasn't calling you a high schooler for finding the show effective. That's just my personal view of the sophistication of the satire. I'm sorry if you felt that way. Yet you feel it necessary to cherry pick a one paragraph rant for a few choice bits, act as though my rant was any form of serious analysis, and then call it grade school.
    "Lighthearted stab." Right, dude. Right. :lol:

  22. #22
    What is best in life? D_Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting number8 (view post)
    I really hate, the use of porn as a shortcut to show the rock bottom of compromising with the system (ugh, speaking of, a lot of blogs are spreading around this one artist's work lately that shows scenes of gangbang porn where the cocks are replaced by smartphones because WE'RE ALL WHORES TO SOCIAL MEDIA MAN--god, I haaaaaaaate it). I like the world building sci-finess of it, but everything else seemed lazy.
    Those paintings immediately sprung to my mind while watching Black Mirror. Wow! So edgy!

  23. #23
    Too much responsibility Kurosawa Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    "Lighthearted stab." Right, dude. Right. :lol:
    Always a pleasure when you stop by, Irish. Always goes so swimmingly around here.

  24. #24
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting number8 (view post)
    Actually, I can say that I disliked the "15 Million Merits" episode, because it's paying homage to Network but bases its tragedy on a point that Network not only already said, but actually went beyond. It also uses a trope I really hate, the use of porn as a shortcut to show the rock bottom of compromising with the system (ugh, speaking of, a lot of blogs are spreading around this one artist's work lately that shows scenes of gangbang porn where the cocks are replaced by smartphones because WE'RE ALL WHORES TO SOCIAL MEDIA MAN--god, I haaaaaaaate it). I like the world building sci-finess of it, but everything else seemed lazy.
    I thought this one was far too on point, but not quite lazy. Because I don't think Brooker took an easy swipe at "social media." I think he was criticizing stuff like this, which caused a stir in tech circles back in the say ("You can get points for brushing your teeth"). Or this. There are people running around in the world, right now, working tech and saying things like "Your bank balance is your high score" and saying them seriously.

    He's concerned with the eventual gamification of nearly everything, but especially human interactions. This makes the episode not so simple, and deeper than it appears, because I'm not sure people realize how badly Facebook, Twitter, et al are intentionally designed to manipulate them. Or how easy it is. I'm not sure they know how services like Task Rabbit and Uber work, where your continued employment is based on a user score.

    The ending should resonate with a anyone who's ever worked a retail job-- people with prestige and power present workaday slobs with a choice that's not really a choice, in a society that has narrowed choice to nothing (ie the complete collapse of a middle class).

  25. #25
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Kurosawa Fan (view post)
    Always a pleasure when you stop by, Irish. Always goes so swimmingly around here.
    Right, dude. Right.

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