Balance June 2019 - 17
parent possibly watched and secretly thought, 'What a good idea...' "One of
the defining things we always look for is something that is going to seduce
you," Jones reveals. "Something that is beneficial and you would welcome
into your home. Because if you don't, then there's no credibility in the
world, and I'm like, 'Well, that wouldn't happen,' and you disengage."
If you're a creative type reading this, it might be an idea to find a pal
with whom you can enjoy stimulating, and possibly even mildly combative,
conversation in order to bring the best out of each other. Brooker believes
the concept of Arkangel came about when Jones teased him for buying a
baby monitor that can sense movement.
LET ME SELL YOU A STORY...
"The concepts aren't necessarily the tricky part. You want it to just be a
human story at the heart that's in a particular world. Then there's a leap of
faith in terms of the concept; often it's not even a leap. And then it's, 'What's
the compelling story?" says Jones. Brooker adds "The trickier part is often,
'Where's the story?' You have to hone in."
One of the most compelling stories was the
ground-breaking Bandersnatch, the stunning
interactive episode that enabled users to decide
the character's fate. However, the dark side of
social media reared its head and star Will Poulter,
regarded as one of the sweetest souls imaginable,
stepped away from Twitter. The moment felt
symbolic of where the medium is right now. A
few years ago, it felt like a warm and supportive
environment. Now it feels corrosive.
"He's a private individual and had never
had that level of interest in his life before and
I think he found that uncomfortable," reasons
Jones. "Everyone has to manage their own
relationships; some people would not be fazed by that at all and would
welcome it. Some don't. So much of Black Mirror is about finding your
own level of relationship with which you're comfortable with tech." "Social
media often has the feel of a pub at closing time," says Brooker. "It could
go either way. Either people going, 'You're the best mate I've ever had.'
Or they're glassing each other. And increasingly they're glassing each
other. There's a lot of anger. It can't sustain. People will get sick of it."
"Or you'll just go to a different pub," counters Jones.
"Twitter used to be Stephen Fry saying what he had for breakfast,"
says Brooker. "And now it's, 'Oh my god, a Russian disinformation bot
is tweeting alt-right memes at me and everyone is calling me a b*stard.'
I suspect there'll be regression to the mean."
You could be forgiven for assuming Brooker and Jones believe
humanity is doomed and that robots will destroy us all. After all, Black
Mirror can get dark. Very dark. Yet there are memorable exceptions.
Both season three's Nosedive and season 4's USS Callister end on a
positive note, and so Balance wonders if they think there is hope when
it comes to the future and technology. It's a big yes.
Brooker says "We're not anti-tech. There are
addictive qualities, but if you look at social media,
it is an amazing tool and has given people powerful
communication in a way that didn't exist; it's just
that we're grappling with the ramifications of that.
"Speaking more broadly, there could be solutions
that mitigate climate change. If we get electric
planes and extract carbon from the atmosphere
and work out high-tech means of rewilding, we
can slow down that. With technology, there are
medical treatments that didn't exist a few years ago.
There are technical solutions to all sorts of things,
but there are also downsides and side effects to it
all. But there absolutely is hope."
A PUB AT
WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN
Jones points out: "For all the Russian infiltration into the US elections,
the flipside is that lots of voices are being mobilised and creating
movements. That will drive change more effectively than we've ever
seen in our lifetime and that's incredibly positive. Whether it's #MeToo,
the vegan movement or climate change, that's all powerful stuff. I'm
Some of Brooker and Jones' biggest hits have been Weekly Wipe,
News Wipe, Screen Wipe and the end-of-year Wipe and Balance asks if
there'll be more. There's bad news and good news.
"No, I don't think so," says Brooker. "No, but... well... I can't say
anything because nothing may happen."
Jones adds: "What he's alluding to may not be what people want."
"That's not to say that I wouldn't do one again!" Brooker continues,
"But there won't be one this year. It seems to be cathartic and therapeutic
for people in many ways, but it's the opposite for everyone working on it
because we have to sit in a room and watch the news again. They are so
difficult to make because it's a long, concentrated period and I just can't
do that at the same time I'm doing this."
Jones supports her partner's take on the matter. "It's a proper review
of the year rather than a joke monologue about clips. It's authored...
People like it because it's a reasoned summing-up, not just a joke-fest."
Brooker concludes "So, there isn't one this year but that isn't to say
there won't ever be one again. I'm always nearly talking myself into
doing one. But then remember I don't have the time."
Too many great double acts called time because they fought, fell
out or simply drifted apart. With Jones and Brooker, you sense there's
much more to come. After all, you never know when inspiration might
strike next. B
Black Mirror Season 5 is available to stream now on Netflix
Balance June 2019
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