What does the BBC’s Black Mirror have in common with a Topeka-based hate group? In three words, The National Anthem. To be clear, not The National Anthem of these United States, I’m referring to the first episode of Season 1. In this episode (minor SPOILER ALERTS ahead), Princess Susannah, Duchess of Beaumont, is abducted and beaten and won’t be released unless British Prime Minister Michael Callow has sex with a pig on national television. Of course, there are a list of demands – some performance-based and some to ensure the act isn’t faked digitally (which I suppose can also be deemed performance-based). Seeing the comparison yet? Fine, I’ll continue.
When the act is televised, the entire nation is by the telly watching this repulsive, humiliating display. In all the shots of the television viewers, no one but PM Callow’s wife ever looks away (in fact, I only saw one person even blink). Regardless of the images shown, the people still watched.
Today, an article appeared regarding a group of students from Kansas City’s Oak Park High School who ran off the notorious Topeka-based hate group (I won’t even dignify this group by naming them). The group was in town to protest Oak Park’s transgender homecoming queen and were promptly counter-protested out of town. Way to go Oak Park students! The comment section, of course, is filled with supporters, detractors, and, you guessed it, hate-filled zealots. Naturally, many people feel that publicizing the group’s antics only serves to empower them. So, why does this group continue to get media coverage? Because people will watch or read.
I suppose you could debate a chicken or egg theory: does the media continue to cover horrific people/events because the public will watch or does the public continue to watch because the media prominently features horrific people/events?