Black Mirror

I’m not sure how I feel about Black Mirror and I’m not sure how I feel about Charlie Brooker. Sure, Brooker’s a famously brilliant wordsmith whose acid-tongued rhetoric is a joy to read, and his television shows are always worth watching, but like his dystopian trilogy, there’s a twist involved.

Brooker explained the series thus: “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The “black mirror” of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”

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Nathan Barley – or, how magazines really work

Everett True’s been retweeting old links about how magazines work.

Charlie Brooker started out as a writer at PC Zone, a magazine I stopped reading because I just couldn’t trust the reviews any more. They smacked of the editorial bias of a publication that lived in fear of pushy PR agents threatening to pull advertising or restrict access to interviews for anyone who didn’t toe the party line. Chris Morris started out working for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, and – like Brooker – has been spoofing and satirising from the get-go. So you can imagine how effective it was when Brooker and Morris teamed up to write the truth about what writing for a magazine is really like. Continue reading

Write and wrong: quotes from a scandal

News of the World Dylan Thomas Alamy Economist

The stench of corruption is sickening. I’d always said that the difference between Brits and Americans is that the Yanks trust people and the Brits trust institutions, but now ours lie in tatters and we’re floundering. On the one hand, it’s easy – and right – to react with shock and outrage at just how deep this toxic rabbit-hole goes, but on the other, any sensible person has to recognise the potential for a hysterical witch hunt that does nothing to restore our confidence in the institutions that we need to trust in to function.

We all “know” that newspapers are dirty and politicians corrupt and that there will inevitably be a few rotten coppers on the force – but to see it there writ large as hacks are jailed and police accused of being paid off? That’s not naiveté on the part of the public. It’s a seismic event in our culture that could send shockwaves around the world.

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Charlie Brooker – How TV Ruined Your Life

I only caught this today on YouTube because I basically don’t watch television as it’s so full of poisonous s***. Oh my, this is wonderful!

I was the kid who, when children’s show Why Don’t You said we should “turn off the TV set and do something less boring instead” … did. When the “wear sunscreen” rant came out, I ditched my subscription to Marie Claire. I’ve never looked back. Now when I see an airbrushed picture of a model, I don’t think “I want to look like that,” I think she looks artificial and “wrong”. According to a recent study, nobody finds that falseness attractive anyway, but we’re all running around like headless chickens trying to aspire to impossible standards that won’t make us happy even if we attain them. All the bling, all the cars and trappings of wealth, I don’t look at that stuff and think it’s something that I should have, because I don’t get that all the time from watching television.

The television I did watch growing up included The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In the show, if you worked hard you could aspire to be like Phil, using education and wealth as an agent for social change and to elevate yourself above the dangers of poverty; or you could be like Will, and realise your artistic visions. Either was valid, respected and respectable. The character who was most derided was shallow, vacuous Hilary, who valued wealth and celebrity for its own sake.

Over the past 10 years, it’s this once-ridiculed attitude to which we’ve all been taught to aspire. We’ve created for ourselves a cruel trap that has ensnared every one of us – putting our jobs, homes, health and happiness at risk – for … what?

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Experimental Music

Cartoon by Charlie Brooker – there’s a panel missing, according to Him Indoors, in which it is revealed that the “music” is someone smacking a metal bucket with a rake.

Some of the music I listen to sounds like that. Sometimes it is someone smacking a metal bucket with a rake. I simultaneously hold both of these characters’ viewpoints.


Cybertwats Charlie Brooker cartoon