In the 1980s, there was a game called Pacman, in which a small yellow monster charged around the screen eating lots of little dots, trying to get away from big purple monsters. I used to play so much Pacman, that sometimes I used to go around my friend's mum's house eating anything that happened to be yellow, while at the same time jumping with fright every time anything purple appeared in the vicinity. In the age of youtube, this has been replaced with spotify, in the sense that there is too much bandwidth for me to know what sandwich to select from my own fridge - just like in that scene from Night of the Living Dead where a postman eats his own face.
My fans are a bit like Pacman. I know that as long as I carry on shitting out the little yellow dots, littering the Guardian - and now Channel 4 - with references to new media, computer games and boringly shocking satirical exaggerations, they will continue to eat them up. I don't know who the purple monsters are in this analogy, because it doesn't matter. Just like how that little paper clip man in Microsoft Word used to jump up at an unwanted moment in the 1990s.
The problem is, if you only deal in exaggeration, then sympathy, realism and humanity start to appear like under-statements. Worse, humour is simply a quieter version of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross leaving obscene messages on Andrew Sachs's voicemail. Of course, I realise this, so I'm allowed to do whatever the hell I like. Using an iPhone 8. Hence the premise of the first episode of my hotly-anticipated 'drama' series, Black Mirror, was so ludicrous, so 'shocking', and so obviously the product of Charlie Brooker (TM), that the next 50 minutes (which would have been 30, had it not been for the five ad breaks, self-importantly represented as 'End of Part Three') was simply an exercise in very undramatic extrapolation. The plot was basically lifted from Love Actually, but replacing Martine McCutcheon with a pig. Just like how laser-discs were going to replace VHS. Not.
Being Charlie Brooker, I'm well aware that great political satire takes aspects of reality, and allows them to build towards absurdity. I'm also aware that reality includes people, characters and institutions, and not only technology. But when did 'great political satire' ever spend week after week as the 'Most Read' article on the Guardian website? Which is why the only elements of reality in Black Mirror were laptops and youtube, a sort of Silicon-Valley-product-placement-fest, while everything else was just hysteria, not unlike Melanie Phillips's worst nightmare. The difference is that Melanie Phillips doesn't remember the noise that Bowser used to make in the Nintendo64 Mariokart.
Remember Nathan Barley? I don't. I was playing a massive multi-player session of Doom, while smoking jellie babies and living in the 1990s when I wrote that. Which is why it has to go down as one of the worst satirical missed opportunities of recent years. While Shoreditch was being gentrified out of recognition, the streets of Hoxton were filling up with vomit and 'art' became an excuse for the most intellectually vacuous forms of elitism, I made out that these people wore blue-tooth headsets (like in the future!) had Adam Ant haircuts (like in the 1980s!) and wore shades the whole time. This saved me from having to make the difficult transition from reality to satire. Hey, lighten up. It was an exaggeration!
So get ready for episode two of Black Mirror next Sunday. According to the website, this is "is a satire on entertainment shows and our insatiable thirst for distraction set in a sarcastic version of a future reality. In this world, everyone is confined to a life of strange physical drudgery. The only way to escape this life is to enter the 'Hot Shot' talent show and pray you can impress the judges." The really clever thing is that the episode itself will play to this thirst for distraction (I do know that's what I'm doing). The episode starts with Simon Cowell having sex with the pope, in exchange for beatification, and basically goes down hill from there. It won't be to everyone's taste. For example, all the key plot devices will only be accessible to viewers familiar with the term 'trending on twitter'.
With apologies to Craig Brown and, less so, to Charlie Brooker.