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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. theshrunkenbeat
    November 13, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

    “where our insistence on the Protestant ethic remains a fundamental and inarguable part of political discourse despite the blatant reality that we in no way have enough work that needs doing, and where the efforts to produce enough work to maintain some semblance of the Protestant ethic is literally killing us all”

    I’d argue that is addressed in 15 Million Merits. Those exercise bikes are blatantly not hooked up to anything other than the points system.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      November 13, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

      Fair, and also notably the only episode Brooker didn’t write.


      • Sean Dillon
        November 13, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

        Looking on Wikipedia, I think you mixed up that one with the following episode, The Entire History of You. 15 Million Merrits was co written by Brooker and his wife.


    • Simon Kane
      November 17, 2015 @ 11:26 pm

      I bet those bikes are supposed to be hooked up. If they weren’t, not mentioning it once over ninety minutes or whatever it was seems a bit of a miss. I loved The Entire History of You but yes, every other overlong episode boiled down to just: “Aren’t people awful?”
      Also, I think it should have been the Queen fucking that pig. It would have made a nice companion piece to “Diana”.


  2. David Anderson
    November 13, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

    My headcanon for the real world is that Jones is an attempted parody of a snotty arts journalist cooked up by a group of art students who lack the self-awareness to know they’re just as snotty themselves and the talent to actually be funny.

    He is not nearly as interesting as Phil’s description of him as ‘completely fucking wrong about everything’ makes him sound.


    • Jack Graham
      November 13, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

      This is the thing about Jones… he manages to be extravagantly, spectacularly wrong about everything yet also to be tedious. He’s like Inspector Clouseau but not funny.


      • Sean Dillon
        November 13, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

        So Steve Martin.


    • Aberrant Eyes
      November 13, 2015 @ 8:23 pm

      “parody of a snotty arts journalist cooked up by a group of art students who lack the self-awareness to know they’re just as snotty themselves”

      Like when Joel Stein did a “Shouts and Murmurs” for The New Yorker, written in what I presume was meant to be the voice of a smugly narcissistic waiter, but which I found indistinguishable from the smugly narcissistic voice in which Stein writes his “The Awesome Column” for TIME magazine.


  3. Champiness
    November 13, 2015 @ 4:07 pm

    Not to debate the contents of the article (though I would agree that, as mentioned in a comment above, “Fifteen Million Merits” at the very least seems to suggest a different vision of the show than the one painted here), but that title just strikes me as a parodically obvious put-down of the show. Like, the kind of thing you’d see the “snooty critic” archetype in a fictional work call Black Mirror in his plot-advancing put-down. Again, not a criticism – I’m just in awe of it. It’s like an anti-blurb. “‘Grey miasma of bland cultural commentary’ – Phil Sandifer. Black Mirror, on Netflix now.”


    • Jarl
      November 14, 2015 @ 4:44 am

      “Phil Sandifer raves, ‘Cultural Commentary’!”


  4. plutoniumboss
    November 14, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

    Black Mirror is over-hyped.

    And TV is reflexively unable to have a discussion about technology. Unless it’s a magical surveillance system to catch criminals, it’s evil and tearing society apart.


    • encyclops
      November 16, 2015 @ 11:30 am

      Even then, right? I mean, The Dark Knight? The giant yawn that was Spectre?


  5. Anonymous
    November 17, 2015 @ 1:44 am

    “The comedy schizophrenic who engages in a nonconsensual murder-suicide pact because mental illness is funny amirite?”

    Are you absolutely nuts? How could you watch that scene and think there was anything remotely comedic about it? I watched White Chirstmas with about half a dozen other people and everyone, including me, was pretty visibly horrified by that twist and not because it was making fun of the mentally ill or anything, but because it was pretty clearly played for straight horror. I urge you to rewatch it and if you pay attention to the music and the very realistic way all the characters react to what’s going on, I don’t know how you could think anyone was intended to laugh at the insane woman’s actions.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      November 17, 2015 @ 7:11 am

      Irony of your phrasing this as “are you nuts” aside, the plot of this section is a comedy of errors: a series of miscommunications leading to a grotesquely exaggerated result. It’s straightforward comedy, dark as the humor may be.


  6. Matt Moore
    November 17, 2015 @ 3:05 am

    Charlie Brooker is not a Marxist nor a radical and he is getting an avalanche of tongue baths at the moment. I have a more positive view of Black Mirror – and a more optimistic view of its future as television which I will briefly outline here.

    Black Mirror oscillates uneasily between the political and the personal. Be Right Back is not so much a satire on social media use as an exploration of grief, memory and technology. If our technologies can keep our memories (lest we forget) – and indeed make them flesh – then is that necessarily good for us? The Entire History Of You is another look at memory and perception through the prism of jealousy. Neither are really satire as such.

    When Black Mirror aims at social/political satire (The National Anthem, 15 Million Merits, White Bear*), a primary target is the complicity of audiences. The viewers tuning into watch the PM fucking a pig on TV; the bike riders gorging on talent shows, porn and fatty humiliation; the baying crowds of the White Bear Justice Park. The world is a terrible place because we all let it be that way. I get the sense that Brooker is both mesmerised and appalled by popular culture (esp. in its kitschy, prurient moralism).

    In terms of a materialist view of the world, Brooker’s previous work on Screen Wipe has been obsessed with demystifying the means of TV production – how choices get made, how unglamorous and tedious much of it all is, how much particular things cost and the petty hierarchies and status games that go on. In terms of his positioning of technology, I would suggest that it’s not that he’s unmaterialist, it’s that he’s happy to sacrifice logical consistency if it means he can get a clearer view of the emotional landscape he wants to explore (hey, who does that remind us of?)

    Black Mirror is not wholly successful but it is attempting to explore ideas that few others in the mainstream are. I think the move to Netflix will be good for Brooker because he’ll need a bigger writing team – which is an opportunity for a more diverse writing team. If the thinking goes “Lets really push the boundaries and hire Sam Bain or Chris Morris” then it’s probably as screwed as that pig. As I’m currently watching “Master of None”, I’m optimistic about Netflix’s ability to make demands of Brooker and help him deliver the goods.

    *I haven’t watched White Christmas because its not available on Netflix Australia. I haven’t watched The Waldo Moment because I’ve heard it’s a bit rubbish.


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