Sunday, 28 December 2014

black mask, white christmas

Another Christmas, another episode of Black Mirror. Whether The Twilight Zone, Brooker's acknowledge template, was ever quite so distressing is difficult to guess: but White Christmas is an admirable addition to the corpus, aping the anthology style (and with more that a slight nod to Sartre's Huis Clos).

Christmas ghost stories are a tradition, and the ghost in the machine gets the spotlight. The stories converge into a elegant resolution and the usual suspects - a woman who has sex with men other than their partners, a woman being terrorised, the nature of self and the intrusion of social media's structures into real life. Even if there is nothing original in Black Mirror (and fair enough, it's a post-modern age et c), Brooker's skill is to pile idea onto idea. This time, he has a crack at macho relationship gurus (very topical), paternal obsession and a future state where the police can literally get into the suspect's mind.

Of course, it's invidious to assume that the author's biography is always relevant to his art, and personal insults are not appropriate for criticism. Having said that, I make an exception for Brooker. He has been rude to so many people through his hilarious TV column (I think he packed it in when he actually met some of the people he'd been snide about), I don't mind having a go at him.

So it is pretty clear that he spends most of his waking life worrying that Konnie Huq is getting slipped a bone by one of those hearty guys who used to bully him when he was a game playing geek at school.

Black Mirror does what Brooker wants it do: it dissects the hidden horrors of a technocratic universe. It's disturbing and the rush of ideas obscures his weak characterisation and blunt plotting. But by having multiple stories, White Christmas becomes more than a trawl through the trope dictionary. It is best enjoyed with adverts, giving time to discuss the Cartesian dilemmas and legal ramifications of each tale.

While as many men get as punished as the women - one gets ignored by the whole of humanity, forever, the other gets stuck in a groundhog day hell - it is noticeable that the women are callous and treacherous. One murders a guy who just wanted a pump, another pumps a co-worker behind his lover's back, a third makes a facsimile of herself and condemns it to monotonous drudgery. 

Admittedly, the guys aren't heroic - the protagonists are, respectively, a murderer and a mix of seduction guru and con-artist. But they get motivation, almost personality. The women are just plot points - including the cute little girl who dies in the snow. 

No comments :

Post a Comment