Last night Republican candidate and former host of The Apprentice Donald Trump won the US Presidential Election, and many online were stunned. Bleary-eyed, disappointed and left reeling from Hillary Clinton’s defeat, they turned to popular culture to try and make sense of their anguish – and found the perfect analogy to express their surprise.
Plot twist: this is all just an episode of Black Mirror
— Unknøwn ➐ (@chrishk11) November 9, 2016
Yes, that’s right – something about Charlie Brooker’s dystopic anthology series and its famously grim tone struck a chord with disappointed commentators around the world, and soon it was a comparison everyone was making.
And I mean everyone.
Wow, tonight's Black Mirror is fucking terrifying!
— Peter Serafinowicz (@serafinowicz) November 9, 2016
i hate this episode of Black Mirror.
— Choose Love News (@ChooseLoveNEWS) November 9, 2016
Worst episode of Black Mirror yet.
— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) November 9, 2016
This Black Mirror episode is really dragging, huh?
— Sammy Paul (@ICOEPR) November 9, 2016
I have to say black mirror series 3 episode 7 is very immersive pic.twitter.com/Bqo3pLX3cq
— Benjy J (@bpjackson96) November 9, 2016
Is this what living in an episode of Black Mirror is like? #electionnight
— Steph Frosch (@ElloSteph) November 9, 2016
Anyone else watching this new episode of Black Mirror on BBC News?
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) November 9, 2016
Dear Charlie Brooker. I appreciate the ambition of this one year long episode of Black Mirror but it's not funny anymore. #ElectionNight
— Phil Taggart (@philytaggart) November 9, 2016
In fact, so many people were making the joke (many, many more than I could include) that the official Black Mirror account felt the need to step in, assuring fans that this wasn’t an elaborate marketing stunt (which you can’t rule out these days).
This isn't an episode. This isn't marketing. This is reality.
— Black Mirror (@blackmirror) November 9, 2016
But elsewhere on the internet, dissent was brewing.
No oft-repeated gag or observation can escape scorn online for very long, and soon there were plenty of people happy to point out that comparing the result to Black Mirror was obvious, overdone and even a little insensitive to those whose lives would actually be affected by the result.
PLEASE STOP COMPARING THIS TO BLACK MIRROR THIS IS REAL AND SUBSTANTIALLY MORE STRESSFUL.
— Andrew Hunter Murray (@andrewhunterm) November 9, 2016
DOES THIS WHOLE THING FEEL A BIT LIKE AN EPISODE OF BLACK MIRROR? COS NOBODY'S POINTED THAT OUT YET.
— Andrew Ellard (@ellardent) November 9, 2016
To people comparing this to a bad episode of Black Mirror: This is reality, folks. Wake the f@#$ up
— Emily Galbraith 艾茉莉 (@era_molihua) November 9, 2016
WAIT A MINUTE TRUMP WON ALABAMA?!? WHAT IS THIS BLACK MIRROR?!?!
— Chris D'Elia (@chrisdelia) November 9, 2016
A Black Mirror episode where something really awful happens & no one reacts because they're too busy comparing it to a Black Mirror episode.
— Nish Kumar (@MrNishKumar) November 9, 2016
And here I thought we could all come together after this election was over. Sad!
Anyway, for what it’s worth I’d point out that while Trump’s election does bear comparison with series two episode The Waldo Moment (where an extreme cartoon character becomes a political figure), it’s not really connected to the insidious hold technology has on us all, so it’s a little thematically incoherent for Black Mirror. A B+ episode at best.
With that said, if people trying to process something difficult need to analogise using a zeitgeisty TV show, who are any of us to judge? At least people have temporarily stopped comparing elections to Game of Thrones.