Now, you may recall my article, or feature, or whatever, from last week in regards to the return of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, then again, you might not — in which case you’d have a lot in common with this week’s protagonist. For those that did read, and do remember, I do apologise but this second instalment deserves a discussion of its own right. This may well happen again next week, in which case I apologise in advance, but we’ll see. Sorry, for the incessant slapping of you across the interface with Charlie Brooker swooning. I’ll try and get it under control.
So, the first episode, as previously discussed, brought out some hard-prodding fingers to poke out social networking foibles, though perhaps foibles is too soft a word, but it was taking aim at our relationship with social networking and the way it has changed, and warped, our relationships to each other via technologies. As great an episode of satirical, though emotional, commentary it was a lot gentler on us than this week’s episode, called White Bear, was.
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This will contain spoilers. Watch before reading.
Initially beginning as, what seems, a subtle as a brick statement on the voyeurism of modern day society — instigated by camera phones, and the further development, improvement and the speed with which anything captured on camera can go viral. Everyone’s a filmmaker now, and what crops up on the internet sometimes reveals just the kind of filmmakers we are; what we are willing to watch, capture, distribute, take credit for and, even, pleasure in. If not filmmakers, what we will consentingly click on and watch out of morbid curiosity, or just a human nature we have readily available access and encouragement to now.
We join our protagonist with a mutual amnesia, as she tries to figure out who she is and this world she is, and perhaps always has been, inhabiting. A world where roughly 90% of the population have been transformed by a transmitted signal through smart phones, TVs, computers etc. into the very extremity of that previous observation. The general population have become unfeeling surveillance cameras, and a large amount of those unaffected have come to the conclusion they can do whatever the hell they want to whatever the hell they want or whoever the hell they want, and have it filmed. Like I said, subtle.
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Mercilessly tracked down by these ‘Hunters’, we follow our protagonist as she starts to piece together her life, her daughter, her home and this world around her as she unwittingly tags along with honest to god goodhearted people who are just trying to survive in this new world, and not take advantage of it, not distort like the ‘Hunters’. The story, Brooker’s writing and Lenora Crichlow’s performance really start to develop and fill out and you, really begin to sympathise with this woman as she is dragged kicking and screaming to White Bear where her newfound comrade is determined to get to so as to take out one of these transmitter towers. Something’s not right though as flashbacks start to reveal more of our leading lady and her daughter, and she doesn’t want to go to White Bear.
We arrive, we get our grand reveal, it was all a gameshow, an extreme reality show, like Derren Brown’s Apocalypse via The Truman Show by way of, I don’t know, Running Man. Oh. That’s a little disappointing. Didn’t we do this last series with the touch screen dystopia? Oh, wait, there’s more. Our host is announcing that we’ll find out who our ‘Victoria’ really is. Cue ad-break. So we’ve got a double twist reveal to close, our heroine is not a victim? She’s a criminal? Beg pardon?
She’s a child killer?
A woman who happily filmed as her boyfriend killed and burned the primary school girl they’d kidnapped. Not the lost child we were trying to remember and so hoping to find with her? This woman who we were so sympathetic to, who we were right alongside with and rooting for? Our Victoria took part in the murder, burning and filming of child murder? Oh.
This scenario is all played out as an eye for an eye style punishment towards her, do as to her as she did unto this innocent little girl, whose white bear was all the public had to cling onto as they searched for her. Crime as punishment if you will, but why doesn’t this quite sit right? Why is there a bad taste in our mouths as we watch our-now-villain put on parade as the crowds roar and she cries, and she cries, and she screams. Torn up inside by what she’s done because she’s not that person, she doesn’t remember, as she begs for death we learn that this show is a repeat performance of an ongoing series with new crowds each day taking on the rolls of transformed-transmitter surveillance. And they enjoy it. Boy, do they enjoy it.
What’s that? A mirror? Our blackest mirror yet.
Have we just been judged, alongside child killers? Yes. Not only have we been taken on the traumatic and sympathetic torment of an unwitting woman whilst unknowingly sympathizing with a child killer but we have just been shown the frenzied, hysterical pitchfork and fire wielding side we will succumb to when it comes to child related crime. Our vicious, callous and brutal side. We’ll watch and get caught up in the hype of it as the media runs wild with a story unfolding, we will even make jokes and we will laugh from our bellies, then we will watch them burn as we start the fire.
It’s not the prettiest reflection you’ve ever seen is it?