Black Mirror with Charlie Brooker + Q&A – Part of Brighton Digital Festival
Duke of York’s Picturehouse
One of the most anticipated events of this year’s Brighton Digital Festival was the exclusive screening of the Emmy award winning series, Black Mirror and if this wasn’t enough of a treat the writer himself, Mr. Charlie Brooker, star of TV’s screenwipe, columnist and satirist was there in person to answer questions from the audience after the two-hour showing.
So why is it that this is a part of Brighton Digital Festival? Well, to go along with this celebration of technology, it’s advances and benefits, Brooker’s television series gives us an insight to the dark side of technology, what can happen if it is misused or taken for granted. With the power that we now have at our fingertips, and the people who rule the world have to their disposal, Brooker looks at, “the way we might be living in ten minutes time, if we’re clumsy”.
The first of the night’s episodes entitled, ’15 Million Merits’ is set in a world where young adults are caged in cells, seemingly powered a monotonous regime of cycling exercise bikes, going nowhere. Life here IS Facebook, with no real human interaction you are constantly bombarded with pop up ads, tuned to your browsing history no matter how inappropriate. A Romeo and Juliet tale for a future generation that seemingly hits out at the popularity contest that is social networking but in the end it accepts it as as fact of life and with the only option being to join it.
The second episode is, ‘Be Right Back’, the tale of a bereavement and a woman who is prepared to go to creepy lengths to undo that loss. Ash and Martha, are starting a life together until Ash is killed in a road accident, due to distractions of a mobile. This episode, Brookers own ‘Monkey’s Claw’, looks into the gulf between the person you are online and the real you. Can a person be truly judged and remembered by their online persona? This is partly answered by Ash himself when he says, “The photos we keep tend to be flattering”. You never see all sides of a person from their online activity, only their best side.
After was the Q+A with Brooker himself interviewed by Bill Thompson, Technology writer for BBC Click. Topics delved into included Brooker’s own technophilia, his inspiration and what the future may hold. When asked whether there was a message to his programs Brooker replied that this was not a form of, “finger wagging exercise”, and he doesn’t want us all to, “go outside and hug trees”, but he is himself as addicted to technology as the rest of us, this is just the products of, “sarcastic conversations”, ideas that would make him laugh and his uncanny ability to imagine the terrifying threat in anything, “scanning the horizon for horrendous consequences of otherwise beneficial things.”
In terms of the future for Brooker and the Black Mirror series there seems to be plenty more to come, although he wasn’t giving anything away, saying that many ideas he has to scrap because the far-out tech that he imagines for the shows he discovers to be already becoming reality! For example the prison in Brazil whose inmates produce electricity through cycling in turn for time off their sentence and the company who continues to tweet on behalf of the recently deceased. We should also expect a Hollywood version of one of the episodes from series one which is predicted to star Robert Downey Jr.
So what is the message Brooker is sending to us about the way we live through these dark twisted nightmare visions of the not so distant future – Be careful what you wish for? Don’t become dependent on the machine? Seemingly it is none of these. As it turns out it is really just for the amusement of himself his co-writers and the audience at home and in a very odd and only slightly depressing way, he has succeeded in this.
Words by Ben Maylin
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