Posted on January 5, 2019
TL;DR: Just tell me a story already.
Netflix released the revolutionary new Black Mirror episode called “Bandersnatch” recently and it’s going to change the way we tell stories forever. This exciting new technology that’s only been around for five decades, will upend everything we know about fiction. Even at this moment, libraries are torching their old style “books” to make room for more televisions. I, myself, am currently performing a bit-level erase of all my works in progress.
Spoilers for Bandersnatch follow.
If you’re old enough to remember the CD-ROM craze of the late 80s/early 90s you have already seen this show before. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type stories were being shoveled onto CDs and sent out into the market with banner headlines from Wired (The Magazine of Wishful Thinking) like: “Changes the game for fiction… permanently!” And if you went through that then you also experienced the exhilaration of anticipation and letdown of discovery.
Art is choices. We admire someone’s storytelling for the way their choices and their voice lure us into a special place where we are helpless to do anything but experience their narrative. CYOA-type mongrels are a combination of video game and fiction where the fiction is paid short shrift and the game is boiled down to simple choices. Neither aspect feels quite as satisfactory as a game or a book on its own.
It doesn’t help that Bandersnatch’s story spine doesn’t break any new ground or that the two lead actors have less chemistry than milk and toast, but what’s worse is when you finally do start to get into the story, you’re suddenly yanked out of it so you can choose between Netflix and Pac, options for which you have no context.
There are some powerful moments in the story, such as when he chooses to place the bear where his younger self can find it so he can go die with his mother, but they’re almost immediately stomped on by another uninformed choice.
All art is subjective and everyone’s experience is unique. That’s what makes it art. I didn’t care for Bandersnatch, but I know plenty of people who did so please feel free to choose from the options below:
> Blow it out your ass, old man!
What a cool opinion, dude!