I enjoyed the first episode of Black Mirror, true. It was a Chris Morris farce without Chris Morris, played straight as a ruler despite having a frankly preposterous premise (if anyone tried to get David Cameron to have sex with a pig to release a princess, Cameron wouldn't be popping Viagra, he'd be getting the Army or whoever to double tap the motherfucker). As such I was expecting roughly the same from Fifteen Million Merits. Oh dear was I wrong. The two are markedly different in tone. Fifteen Million Merits is a gut punch of a television programme that is physically painful to watch. I mean that in the most positive sense that a person can use the term "physically painful". It's not bad - it's excellent, proof if nothing else that Charlie Brooker is a far more talented man than either the public or the man himself truly appreciates - but so truly disturbing, like the best satire is, and so incisive about our present day culture (and our resulting future) that the viewing left me numb, distressed and an insomniac. Yeah, cheers Brooker. Watching it while on Twitter, one of the common criticisms I noticed was that people thought the world was unbelievable. They missed the point almost as spectacularly as the person I saw who thought the omnipresent televisions that forced you to watch them were "cool but would get annoying". The world of 15MM is, as with so much in the programme, a metaphor for the world of today. If you think the concept of a world where millions do pointless busy work in order to earn money to buy imaginary hats for an avatar of yourself is a stupid, unbelievable idea then I invite you to consider the number of people who work in soul-sucking retail jobs and then come home and play Team Fortress 2. As I say, it is incisive about our culture, and specifically the constant dangling carrot apparent in most British media of "celebrity" which is nothing of the sort, as embodied by The X Factor (which it quite viciously disembowels). It pulls no punches and hurts all the more for it. It's brutal, heartbreaking, poignant and (it must be said) downright depressing. Suffice to say, I highly recommend it.
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