If you working in marketing/digital/media and don’t know Charlie Brooker, you need to.
Also, what the hell have you been doing with your spare time?
Famed for pretty much predicting a certain prime minister’s ‘incident with a pig’, the journalist gone-TV-writer is actually a lot more impressive for his overall cutting commentary on modern media and social behavior. It’s safe to say the man is something of an anarcho-primitivist – as each story carries with it a cautionary tale about our (not at all so distant) future relationship with tech and media. Actually, dark Nostradamus-esque musings aside, the appeal of the dystopian Black Mirror series comes as much in its commentary on the behaviors and consequences we are already facing, as the unforeseen consequence of technology a few down the line.
Through Brooker’s lens, nothing from the X Factor (15 Million Merits) to how modern election campaigns and media stories play out (The National Anthem), are safe from an ugly reflection in the mirror. Apparently it’s not that he thinks technology is bad in theory, it’s just the toxic mix of technology plus people (so um, a lot like gun ownership, capitalism or communism then… or I guess anything really) .
Originally created by Channel 4 and then effectively decommissioned, the series was recently picked up again by content giant Netflix – who are quickly developing an almost Saint-like status for taking on projects just like House of Cards and actually leaving the creators the hell alone to just do it as awesome as possible…
(Incidentally, what is going on with Channel 4?! First they make the colossal mistake of buying British Bake Off without securing the talent, then they let something like Black Mirror go, thanks to micromanagement and being overly cautious. To top it of they then throw a traditionalist media platform TV hissy fit about Brookers lack of ‘loyalty’? Mmph…)
Anyhow, the first episode in the Netflix series explores the social world of outright ‘ranking’ something. Those little blips, hearts, views, favourites and Facebook likes we are all hooked on when it comes to measuring our literal ‘social status’ – be it as an individual, company or a brand.
The world of the hero – the captivating Bryce Dallas Howard – is a beautiful pastel palette one that looks like it sprang straight out of an Instagram dream. It is a world were people are punished for showing their ‘ugly’ side, or indeed the ugly side to the daily life experience. A world were even the authentic is inauthentic – where one is admired for being ‘real’, just so long as that real is digestible feigns other beautifully aspirational qualities such as naivety, innocence and thoughtfulness.
OK I’ll get to the point (in a very roundabout way as usual).
What do Charlie Brooker and Katie Price have in common?
Well this new episode and what happened to Katie over the weekend are a cautionary tale on much the same thing. The celebrity was slammed on social media for posting a picture of…
a dead bird.
Yup, that’s it a dead bird.
Scarier still was the general media response stating it ‘was not surprising’ she has been hounded and abused for basically just telling the world one of those normal (and frankly, boring) everyday things had just happened to her – reporting she finally ‘saw sense’ and pulled it down.
At least in Charlie Brookers world people simply ‘nosedive’ in rankings.
In the real one, a human being gets called a ‘tramp’, ‘immoral’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘***ing thick b*tch’ or perhaps most insultingly ‘model, aged 38’.
Stranger than fiction.