What would you like to do?
Black Mirror has been quite an interesting show to follow over its lifespan so far. It has gone from being a well-made TV show and then bought by Netflix to be an annual event that everyone goes crazy for. It’s more recent popularity allows the show to get it’s messages of invasion of privacy, advancement of technology and general life across to a wider audience. Now the Charles Brooker series has gone one further, putting you personally in the seat to drive the story. To make you question what you would do? What do you want to see? And question your own reality.
Bandersnatch is the latest episode/film in the Black Mirror world and it focuses on Stefan. Stefan is a boy in 1984 who wants to turn a book, Bandersnatch, into a choose your own adventure game. Throughout the episode, you the viewer make choices as to what he says and does which affects the story and the characters within. Overtime Stefan starts to go crazy as he becomes stuck trying to realise what is real and what isn’t.
I’m trying to stay away from too many plot details as Bandersnatch should really be your own personal journey. It’s a journey that as you’re sitting comfortably watching it you start to slowly feel uncomfortable and more focused on the decisions you’re making. You can either stay ahead of the game in front of you or simply go along.
The interesting part of this Netflix experiment is how you react an how you choose to take on the adventure. Note that I called it a game, I went into the episode playing it like a game as if I was playing God and deciding this poor boy’s fate. When I play games I sometimes take notes, to ensure I don’t miss anything and I don’t become stuck. This turned out useful as I felt like I was becoming stuck in an endless loop of trying to fix and organise poor Stefan’s life. Others will go into the episode playing it in different ways.
Black Mirror has a great way of making you feel uncomfortable about the things you’re so comfortable with. Making simple decisions at a TV is a normal comfortable and relaxing thing we all do but in this scenario, those decisions aren’t comfortable at all. Bandersnatch makes you think about the world around you and the everyday choices you make. It has been done countless times before in other TV shows, there is a great Doctor Who episode about it, but Bandersnatch feels different.
The act of getting to make those decisions again and again and changing your choices reflects on what you might want to actually do in real life. I’m writing this now before I go to work and skipping breakfast and I’ll most likely buy something there. That five pounds I spend could mean that later on in the week I might not be able to pay for something else and the simple choice of skipping breakfast has a vast knock-on effect. Now obviously the show is deeper than that but I’m simply talking about an everyday choice.
Bandersnatch is a good commentary on society playing god and making choices that affect everyone and everything around us. It makes you question whether you’re being controlled to…you don’t really know for sure, do you? What it certainly is, is a fantastic experiment by Netflix and one of my favourite episodes of Black Mirror. I’d like to make a choice for more episodes now. Thank you.