Entering the last of the second Black Mirror trilogy, Charlie Brooker takes another look at technology’s relationship with politics. The only difference is that while the last time it was mocking the people in power, this time its more or less an attack on the British political system as a whole. And its represented by one single character : Waldo.
The Waldo Moment focuses on Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby), a comedian who voices a popular CG bear named Waldo. With an upcoming by election, The character of Waldo is put forward as a candidate, all for a joke and a boost in ratings. But as the campaign goes on, Waldo increases in popularity and Jamie is thrown into a world that he may live to regret.
The first good thing to say about this story is the performance of Daniel Rigby. He plays a character who is stuck in a rut and with a hint of psychological problems and a messy past. Waldo to him is a wage and part of a variety of ideas for a late night sketch show. Jamie then strikes a relationship with The Labour Candidate Gwendolyn Harris (Chloe Pirrie) which gives Jamie a bolt of happiness in the story. But very soon, a misunderstanding not only changes Jamie’s relationship with her, but also unleashes the damage that Waldo inflicts on the small by election site, and slowly but surely wins over the electorate via Waldo’s anti politics personality and approach to the other candidates.
The whole idea of this story is social media’s relationship with politics. Its a good idea and one that Brooker writes with a sense of realism, but adding a touch of comedic satire too. The idea of Waldo representing that in a way is clever, and shows how society – especially young people – is influenced so easily by a brand or a cartoon that will attack the establishment or status quo that we’ve seen over and over again for so long. But with this, Brooker shows just how dangerous social media can be, which is the overall idea of Black Mirror as a whole. As the story goes on, and Waldo’s popularity grows ever stronger, the people behind the scenes begin to use Waldo’s identity for greedier ideas and thus they begin to use him as a marketing tool, completely shredding his original purpose of a protest vote. But the scary thing is that the people don’t see it, and by the end of the story, they have fallen in love with Waldo and forget about what he originally stood for. I think this mostly would affect young people, as when it comes to voting and politics in general, they are the most easy to manipulate because they have no major responsibilities in their lives. And once they grow up, they begin to connect with a party which gears towards their needs. So to many of the fictional voters in that town, Waldo was nothing. Merely a protest vote for those who had something to protest about. But once they grow up, and begin to mould their own lives and responsibilities, that’s when Waldo becomes meaningless to them.
To sum it up overall, The Waldo Moment is a great expose to British Politics and society’s relationship with it. Charlie Brooker is a writer with ideas and beliefs, and with Black Mirror, he creates alternate worlds that show us what we could become if we let technology run our lives as well as the idea that technology is moving too fast, to a point in which we cannot control it anymore.
This article was first posted on February 26, 2013