Black Mirror “The Waldo Moment”

This episode, in certain respects, may be the scariest because it may have predicted the future for far too many people.

See, this one is about politics and what people will vote for.  In this case, a lot of people will vote for a cartoon bear.

There’s a Parliamentary election going on, and we see an ambitious young lady named Gwendolyn getting approved to run for the seat for the Labour Party.  She knows she can’t win.  The Party knows she can’t win.  The Conservative incumbent is a shoe-in.

But there’s also this comedy show running, a sort of British version of The Daily Show, and comedian Jamie Salter is, well, not happy with his job.  What is his job?  He works some kind of computer program/motion capture/remote manipulator for Waldo, a blue cartoon bear that looks like cheap kids show cartoon.  He’s got an Ali G type thing going on where he interviews people in-character and makes crude jokes at the interviewee’s expense.  His latest victim before a season finale is, ta-da, that incumbent politician Gwendolyn is running against.  The show does OK, but Waldo gets the politician mad so that somehow gets Waldo his own series, and Jamie and his writers come up with the idea to basically have Waldo first follow the politician around and then later actually run for the seat himself.  Everyone just sort of assumes that no one would vote for a foul-mouthed cartoon bear that doesn’t even have a platform.

And, along the way, Jamie and Gwendolyn hook up for a one-night stand.  Gwendolyn’s manager tells her to break it off until the campaign’s over, but she doesn’t get that much out to Jamie before all three (plus a fourth candidate from the looks of things) are all on a single TV interview.  The incumbent dishes a bunch of dirt about the real Jamie, about how poorly his career went before he was Waldo, and that just infuriates him enough to lash out at everyone.

And that just makes Waldo popular.

Jamie, though, doesn’t really want that.  He wants success for himself, but he doesn’t own Waldo, and since his face is never seen, anyone can theoretically take his place.  He hurt Gwendolyn enough to ruin that possible relationship.  And when he finally does try to stop the campaign because voting for Waldo is obviously a bad idea, well, he ends up getting fired.  His producer takes his place, and whatever grace Waldo had is gone in favor of a new personality that stirs up violence and riots by offering money to, say, beat Jamie up.

Now, Waldo doesn’t win the election.  He comes in second to the incumbent.  But Waldo is everywhere now.  And Jamie?  He’s homeless.

To review:  a TV personality known for slinging insults, who seems to suggest rioting in his name is OK, and who doesn’t seem to really offer any sort of detailed platforms of any kind, runs on a platform (if you can call it that) of saying professional politicians can’t be trusted so why not vote for the candidate with the big mouth, almost wins but then has his name and face plastered everywhere.  See why this might be too close to home for some people?

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