THE WALDO MOMENT by Charlie Brooker

(Season 2 Episode 3 of The Black Mirror – Channel 4 Television)

Waldo - the future face of politics?

Waldo – the future face of politics?

Waldo is an animated bear. His colour, like his jokes are blue. He appears on a late night satirical ‘youth’ TV show where he specialises in exposing the pomposity and/or ignorance of public figures.

If this sounds a bit Brass Eye to you, then it will come as no surprise to learn that it is based on an idea by Brooker and Chris Morris while working on the sit-com Nathan Barley.

Waldo is voiced by Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby) a failed comedian whose personal life has hit rock bottom. The venom he pours into the character strikes a chord with the public. As a publicity stunt, Waldo stands as a candidate in a by-election in a safe Tory seat. Waldo’s rants go viral on You Tube and the possibly of him (‘it’) winning a seat in parliament becomes a real possibility.

I thought this was the best of the three dramas in the second series of The Black Mirror. Named after ubiquitous ‘black’ computer /phone screens that have become indispensable to modern life, these dramas are also black visions not so much of the future but as an extension of the present.

I think it was William Gibson who said that we almost don’t need Science Fiction novels anymore as what has come to pass is stranger and more dystopian than anything a Sci-Fi author could dream up.

Waldo was scary because it was such a credible story. There was no real need to tag on a Big Brother brutality by riot police over the closing credits.

Charlie Brooker is a sharp observer of modern social trends and how they are manipulated by the media. The disaffection with politics represented in Waldo is very real, particularly among young voters.

In this climate, many will vote for someone/something that sets out to destroy rather than for anyone/anything that seeks to create an alternative.