Category: feature

Musings on Black Mirror: Season Three

No Spoilers, just some brief thoughts from a shook mind.

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There is nothing genius about anything Black Mirror entails. Stop. Pause for reflection. Uncontrollable petting of a cat, spoon in hand and five minutes to open a Detox sachet of Twining’s; the show has found it’s roots. Plus there is no  need to supplement a cup of Twining’s with a spoon, yet you cannot rationalize the choice to either put it down or keep it with you.

Three episodes into season three and the nefarious, prurient ride that grants, unsympathetically, no catharsis whatsoever, has achieved it’s end goal. Thwarted society is the antiquated tool of any producer’s arsenal, and yet the incessant need it plays upon the mind dawns timelessly in a six-episode montage of Charlie Brooker’s finest collection of work; welcome to Gomorrah, it’s been here all along.

There was no new approach this time out; why change the script in a dialectical process that explores in theory what is being played out in reality? The machine was never at fault all along, just as human frailty and weakness has, and always will, hide among the rafters from the blame it narrowly alludes each and every day. Nothing genius, just torture of what we are, have been and always will be. Enough to turn any man into a blathering idiot!

At it’s core, Black Mirror has always given testament to the mundane truths about civilization and it’s with bated breath that each new exposure of something so morbidly familiar is anticipated. The polarization of life inside and out of social media, the Kafka-styled trap of paranoia at all in sundry around and the endemic fear that maybe, in the wildest of Confucius’ dreams, we were, all along, a butterfly dreaming a human’s life. Only this butterfly is coarse, and it’s wings have been severed leaving the grotesque atrium of matter in it’s place.

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Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror

Brought down to brass tacks, the impeccable acting harnesses the power of each message. But that is not what is up for discussion. To evoke the surly matter of the maggot butterfly’s power at a basic level, Black Mirror is asking us, without interest in the answer, why on earth we do half of the twisted shit we do each day. It is not for the sake of humanity that the question is asked. There may be a Stoic love beyond our capacity that the show’s ultimate theme holds but somewhere in it’s cosmic mess, that has been repudiated. The autonomous power that brings about characters such as the nervous teenager Kenny with a dark secret in episode three are certainly on trial, but with all the conviction and power of a modern-day tribunal.

The augmented fear never cedes throughout the season and without wanting to dive into the details of any episode, each individual story encompasses a familiarity so surreal that it’s realism leaves the viewer physically shaken to their core. It goes without saying that once viewed, a lot of people shall never return to this vault that was perhaps best left shut; or was it?

Season Three of Black Mirror is now available in it’s entirety on Netflix. 

 

The Warsaw Mermaid in the city's Old Town

Warszawa: Becoming More Polish Than The Polish Themselves

Picture Courtesy of www.regent-holidays.co.uk

The constant swirl of a crane bleats everywhere in the sanctity of a pseudo-adorned drop-in Ikea. Poland is like a Scandinavian fun day out to a hall of mirrors. It’s capital is no different. Everywhere you go, it’s architecture screams, pounds and lambastes at your arrival into a  city feigning to grasp at its true demographic; cloying bitter senility or mawkish neo-intellectualism. I love it.

Building is taking place everywhere and acts as the cities’ tentative alarm clock. Planning seems based around an inverted sort of Field of Dreams idea: “If there’s space, we will build”. Fresh batches of mortar sling from atop the scaffolding and it is anyone’s guess whether a claim could be made by an unfortunate passer-by. Ah, the ecstasy of right-wing envisioning lies both on endless unfinished rooftops and down on the upturned pathways.

At every corner, the sardonic hero within is nourished. The markets at Praga Poludnie, affectionately known as the ‘lungs’ of the city, reassure you that it is okay to openly despise your clientele; a lesson many passive Westerners could learn a great deal from. Warsaw communities know one thing if nothing else: that getting things done does not require time or affection, just the strong will to grasp at King Jagiello’s head (he occupies the 100 zloty note). Though almost within the same breadth, some endearing locals would rather you left them alone than crossed their palm with silver.

If  all this sounds like digression, Warsaw warrants it. Nothing comes at a small price-except of course in the strictest sense of paying for goods. Go to set up a bank account and the clerk will tell you she needs authority from his/her superior in something resembling a Peter the Great Table of Ranks fable. Arrange tenancy in a modest apartment and a full inquest on par with Kafka’s Judgement ensues. Daily, customers are reminded how little their custom is valued, almost to the point were a deliberate attempt to sabotage the sale is made by the surly shop assistant. It is the equivalent of a bureaucrat’s Leopold Bloom stroll on a fine, languorous Sunday.

There may perhaps be cause for arguing that collectively, this is all a sign of a country desperately playing catch up to a free market Europe. There is, however, nothing left to add to that trite, exhausted argument. Interpret it any way you like, whatever way it is viewed from, Poland is outright different from it’s neighbouring countries and, for that matter, all others in sundry.

Those still discerned and well versed in European travel may perhaps feel that salvation then lies deeper in the hub of the city, away from the humdrum of Warsaw’s urban-rural collide; this writer’s idea of utopia. Perhaps, one may wonder, a friendlier atmosphere exists around the center of the city, where businesses are, if not willingly but for the sake of their own utility, forced to indulge the paltry tourists. No. There shall, and rightly so, be no quarter offered.

Submerge yourself in the metro station. Find the destination you require and follow the signs around in a circle until you kick yourself in the backside. At a push, pluck up the courage to ask a local in your strained Polish for directions and receive the contemptuous rebuttal with dignity. You are not at home now, you are in Poland, so take it or leave it.

For those who are settling here from the lingua franca regions of the globe, this articles’ Norman-styled title relating to the invasion of Ireland is all the more salient. It was once believed that our English occupiers from the 12th Century became ‘more Irish than the Irish themselves’. It is a lesson given in earnest to potential settlers of Warsaw. Endorse the surroundings and comply with the old lady on the tram with her ten bags packed to the brim with kielbasa (sausage). Wonder also, is it really that far removed from the turmoil we all masochistically relish in back home?

Varsovians hang over you like a specter and soon they will encroach upon you, with all the salivated outcries they can muster. Embrace it, let it be known that you stand as one of them and who knows, you might even grow indifferent to your stay.