On Reznor’s Black Mirror

Trent Reznor ‘s music was used in a staggeringly flimsy episode of a vastly overrated TV show. It’s been irritating me like a mild stabbing at the back of the head ever since.

Was I ever a huge fan of NIN? Not at all. Same with this show, but from each, a few nice things seemed to emerge by accident and I was able to enjoy those nice things and go on as if the rest wasn’t happening despite the hype. There was a Reznor collaboration and tour with Bowie and maybe I liked that single. In Black Mirror’s second episode we find lower class citizens running treadmills all day to power the city for points toward temporary freedom outside their little TV viewing cubbyholes–interesting enough, especially when a guy gets hold of a glass sliver and almost does himself in for a wide virtual audience then gets hired to make that happen repeatedly for the rest of his slightly more privileged life and gets great ratings.

But Black Mirror seems to have drifted into a trend for heavy-handed, almost fairy-tale obvious morality. Episode 21 spells out plainly and tediously the message that social media is bad because it makes us look at our phones while driving. This comes across after a certain amount of suspense and crime show action–like an hour-long TV Schoolhouse public service message film cutting into recess time.

The next episode, number 22, is the real bug up my ass. Two songs or so off Reznor’s first album were used as tunes–with upbeat lyrics in lieu of his own–to the hits of a pop wonder ala Britney Spears, Katy Perry (whose music and technocratic production team represent by repeated crowbar to temple style implication, the evil in the world); and in the end one of these jingles is rewritten into the actual, “Head Like a Hole,” to represent the good in the world through angry rebellious outburst against the machine–a machine that say recycles material, already proven to win an audience, in two ways rather than one.

It stars Miley Cyrus as the awakened pop star with evil aunt, who was fun to watch at times–in her seething desire to break out of such a familiar Barbie doll pep rally career. But then came the Trent cover from her new band and you know here might have been a lovely breakout placement for some undiscovered songwriter–rather than just a cutesy wink at the portion of viewers consisting of Reznor fans; or a pile of shit on mediocre bedtime dessert for the rest of us.

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