The despised other and a plot device: How raping a pig makes for good TV

Black Mirror, ep.1: Guy gets an early call and is told that something terrible has happened. He turns out to be the British prime minister and the terrible thing is that some princess has been kidnapped. She will be released if the kidnapper’s single demand is met. The PM is to have sex with a pig on live TV that very day. Scratch that. The PM has to rape a pig. No cheating, either. It has to be the PM and it has to be, well, any pig. Who cares about her, right? What, in the show? No one.

I know these things are so backward that it was no use to wait for even a simple “wait, maybe the pig does not wants to fuck the prime minister”. Indeed, no such thing comes Not a single thought on pig subjectivity, on her wishes or desires or needs or intentions comes into the picture. It is merely mentioned in passing that the pig has been sedated so as not to oppose her sexual abuse. What, you thought pigs really don’t care, did you? Not funny. Other than that it’s just the PM and the princess and all the mass media crap that — the show wants to show us as if we did not know — must accompany such ridiculousness in a celebrity- and reality-TV-crazed culture.

Was I supposed to care about some member of royalty? A high-ranking official of government? About the grinning dummies in front of their TV sets? I was thinking about that poor pig, hoping she would be spared the sorrowful fate of prime-ministerial cock. I count myself in the minority. To the creators of the show the pig does not matter. She is written into the episode so as not to matter.

The pig serves as the despised other, the incarnation of something disgusting and lowly. She serves as a mere plot device in the episode’s progression towards an inevitably disappointing conclusion. The paradigm of use and abuse is still firmly in place. And it does not make for good TV. It makes for predictable, flat, uninspired drivel.

Black Mirror is an anthology series which I took a long time to see and now I wish I took even longer. Like, forever. This opening episode is spun off of a truly ridiculous premise, all for shock value that would have occluded the substance had I not become tired of it and had it not been for near-total lack of substance itself. The episode fails to take any sort of risk at all. Brutality and oppression on TV? Nothing new.

I hope I didn’t just make you want to watch it. You know how it is with these things: any publicity is good publicity. Including for a show that mocks the stupidity of mass media culture, as Black Mirror sets out to do before succumbing neatly to its iron rules.

Aren’t you tired of this pointless spectacle yet? Any opposition in the form of a mass-produced show will only reinforce it, and Black Mirror sure does just that. And them cynical bastards know it. Or they’re just naive. No, they know it.

Also, stop using pigs in entertainment. Enough of that. Stop using pigs, period.

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