This is not what I usually bring onto this blog. But you know what, I never followed a specific niche anyway. Watching a show like Black Mirror was just too inviting for me to write down my thoughts on each episode. I think I will actually post my thoughts on the episodes that got to me the most because well, I can't keep still. My mind is in all kinds of whirls because of this show which I hate and love at the same time. Nowadays there's not enough TV productions out there that are truly poignant and get me thinking really hard as an individual.
National Anthem is the very first episode of the show, even though I mistakenly didn't watch this one as the first episode.
When I first read the synopsis a long time ago due to my curiosity, I thought, what the hell? The synopsis sounds crazy. And then I watched it to the end, where I ultimately sat with my mouth wide open, confusedly blinking, hardly swallowing. Everything that just happened in this episode is shitbat crazy.
This episode did not let me go to sleep. I couldn't sleep until like 3 in the morning. And I hope I'm not the only one who felt that way. Cue the spoiler alert warning sign. Do not read on if you haven't watched the episode yet. Or you know what, do read on if you're uncertain and curious.
If you don't remember what it was about and what exactly happened, read about it here before diving into my thoughts.
My take on it
I thought this episode was brilliant. Completely shocking, disgusting, appalling and followed by many shudders down my spine. Now some expected me to think, Why would they air that? Why would anyone watch that? Is TV production going mad? And at first I was under that exact impression. But I understood. I got the point and that is what made the episode brilliant after all.
In defense: The intention of this episode, like every other Black Mirror episode, is to make a very bold point. And there's always going to be two sides, the initiated one that appreciates such contemporary, appalling art and the general public that despises that because they don't get the point and focus on the disgusting part and how upset it made them. But ladies and gentlemen, that was the point. Make you feel things, make you feel utterly uncomfortable to provoke you. If that doesn't work, fine. But nowadays it's rather hardly possible to get to that in any other way. You have to see things to believe them and the more upsetting and shocking, the bigger is the reaction. Even if it's shitbat crazy. Yes, it's apparently complete nonsense for some but you're either outraged or sensitive enough to understand what's behind that.
Thoughts: No, it was not pleasurable to watch. I'm all in for comedies and happy-go-lucky Korean dramas and whatnot. It's outrageous, appalling, far beyond the limits of good taste. But I thought it was a great vehicle to communicate a really important point by forcing a reflection on the audience, by reflecting a fictional audience.
Who is reflected? Well, the population, the users of the interweb, the fictional audience, the real audience including you and me. I mean we feel exactly the same with the fictional audience at first, going through the episode. Should he really do that to save the princess' life? What's the right thing for a PM to do in such a situation? Do you want him to save the princess? What do you value more, the dignity or integrity or the life of a particular princess that is after all just a girl?
The population in there prefers humiliation. Is it really because they value the life of the princess over anything else? D'you really think that? I thought that rather than that, there is some underlying disrespect towards their PM that drove them to wanting to see him degraded to no end. I thought this was a sign of a profound disrespect towards themselves and their own society and their values.
See the utterly disgusted faces in front of the screens, first a laugh or two, now unable to look away now that it's happened. Turn it off, someone finally mutters. Are those faces of a sick defeated society?
What I found brilliant was that even though the avant-garde artist wanted to make a point, he didn't even need to live to contemplate the completion of his own creation. That crazy artist wouldn't actually have killed the princess in the first place, I don't think. After all he didn't cut off her finger but his own. His suicide marked his disgust and utter disappointment in society that is more than understandable at this point. How immersed can a population be that they wouldn't notice the princess being released half an hour before the broadcast had even started?
Conclusion: Major wake up call we didn't know we needed. Thought provoking even if not very plausible in some people's eyes. The satire in this absolutely worked for me. All in all this was a masterpiece with all its appalling elements. Maybe now you understand why I recommend not to binge this series.
What are your thoughts on the episode to those who have watched it? What did you get out of it? How do you see the message? I'm all for discussions in the comments.
Until then – stay cautious,