I Am The Villain of Black Mirror's Bandersnatch
We like stories. They get a hold of us and engage us like nothing else can. We are hooked on stories, stories that we can remember, stories we can tell, stories that we want to happen to us. The self can be then understood as a dynamic anthology of stories through which we define ourselves. Getting to know someone is flipping through their story book, and lending someone your stories to read is how you let them know you. It’s all about access and, not surprisingly, that is primarily why we like stories so much. Our relationship with them is defined by control. Think about this: we are the protagonists of all our stories and everytime we tell someone a story of our life, we are also the narrator. This is how we control the narrative and by extension, control our selves. The problem is that we often conflate the protagonist with the hero of the story. In fact, the word hero has got nothing to do with heroism in the conventional sense of the word – being a hero is the same as being in control. But this presents us with a problem. Most of the stories that feature us aren’t heroic, or at least we do nothing heroic in them. Conversely, most of the stories that have heroism in them don’t feature us at all. On the face of it, most of our beloved stories that we have come to like, individually as well as collectively, have got nothing to do with our selves. Yet, these stories have the most impact on us. Why is that? We have found a way. A way to be the hero in other people’s stories, a way to be in control of other people’s stories, a way to suspend disbelief to such an extent that everything becomes about us (or should I say me?). We know it by different names: fantasy, delusion, empathy, cosplay, fanfiction – to name a few.
Storytellers have figured out something fundamental in our relationship with stories. Good storytellers are those who leave a gap in the narrative for us to fill. By giving up control and allowing us presence, they write stories which grab hold of us. They make their stories open access. Pro wrestling was one of the first forms of entertainment to figure out this formula. The way storylines progress were informed by the crowd reactions in the arena and getting a pop (whether positive or negative) was all that mattered to “get over.” Today we have POV porn, that is shot from your point of view thus allowing you easy access and control. If you think about it, a large chunk of what constitutes reality in reality TV is the illusion that you have access – unfiltered access – to someone else’s reality, and you do what you choose to do with that access: become part of that story, fight for them to be saved or vote them off the show.
So. How do you want to proceed? Make your choice:
Concept, words, and execution: Anunaya Rajhans & Platon Poulas
BA English Literature, MSc Publishing. Passionate about contemporary literature, noir comics, beautifully shot films, and whiskies that are old enough to order their own whiskies. Can bore you to death with La La Land songs, Hollywood trivia, George Carlin references, and extensive knowledge on Leonard Cohen.
Finished a Master's degree in English Literature and now teaches Critical Writing to an exceptionally eccentric bunch. Research interests include memes, cyber subculture and internet humour - so as to make sure to not be taken seriously. Loves trivia quizzes.