Opinion/Review

Black Mirror – Season 1, Episode 1 “The National Anthem” (SPOILERS AHEAD)

I have never heard of “Black Mirror”. It entered on Portugal’s Netflix on October 23rd, with the three seasons on it. Four days ago, I saw the first two episodes and there are no words to describe how quickly I got hooked to it (which is ironic considering what the series “talk” about). Black Mirror, the first time I saw the title and the synopsis, struck me as a “let’s critize today’s society in a clever way”. I got so curious I prepared myself for it: spare time, blanket and food.

The first episode got me curious in the first minutes. I honestly wanted to know what was going to happen, what society was this (it seemed like some sort of futuristic/alternative world). The premise was like any other: we have some crisis to resolve. Let’s do it in the most “badass and filled with macho and swears that is physically possible”.

It wasn’t like that at all.

You can feel the pressure that is a Prime-Minister having a threat like that placed upon is shoulders. It’s almost like you are there, living that crisis with these characters that feel, look and act human which is a strong point in any acting (and one it’s getting harder – I feel, most of the time, that you can’t really connect with the characters. They feel like they are empty, just puppets doing what their master’s command, with no feelings at all) and helps any viewer feel any empathy towards them.

The second good point is the fact that they show how a news like this would impact society – you can see at the beginning people being like “Oh, that’s a really bad thing but hey, we don’t need to take it seriously! The Prime-minister will do what he has to do and we can all move on”. People feel like it’s some kind of serious matter, but it’s not their serious matter. So they can live their lives normally (and probably going earlier to watch the Prime-minister fuck a pig. Or not. They don’t really care.) And you can see that the people are divided – it’s like its 50/50 believing it’s a serious threath and another feeling like it’s a joke.

Either way, you walk with Michael as he tries to solve this fucked up mess and with his assistant Alex that tries to find an alternative that will save Michael of the humiliation. The plan backfires: the kidnapper finds out and sends a finger to a channel (that didn’t follow the order of not talk about the kidnapping and anything related). This launches chaos through the country and the people: now their opinion changes – they want Michael to perform the deed, they pratically force him to it. We can see how quickly the common people change their opinion about something and having no sympathy towards Michael – it’s not someone they had previously no empathy, opposed to princess Susannah, who was adored by all. They would throw stones at him if that meant she was safe. They don’t care about him at all – they just want her safe. It’s scary how any empathy vanished as soon as the finger was known to everyone.

Worst of all, was how quick the population literally stopped to watch him have sexual intercouse with a pig. Literally nothing was happening when the hour arrived – the thirst they had to see their prime-minister humiliate himself was, to say the least, scary. I am not sure they were watching with the knowledge that he was doing it to save Susannah – it was the black side of humanity, the side that prefers to watch another suffer and thanking that it was not them. A sordid part of humanity that, unfortunately, exists and well in todays’ societies.

In the end, we find out that the princess was released thirty minutes before the appointed hour which raised the question of: why? Why did someone did that? Why would they kidnap her? Why would they demand something like that?

Because they could. Because they wanted to make a stand, to say “Look, you are so distracted by things that don’t matter, that are disgusting and in no way relevant to your lives and you don’t notice what is really happening.” I mean, the princess wandered for, at least, thirty minutes in a city like London and no one noticed. No one, because they were more worried about the humiliation that was happening on TV that had no relevance to people’s lives.

And this is bad. The fact that people are more worried about things like this instead things that actually matter, And that is something everyone should think about – do I really want to care about things that are irrelevant for my life and well being, or do I prefer to care about someone’s else life

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