In ‘The National Anthem,’ the first episode of Black Mirror, the relationship between citizens and politicians seems depicted as a masquerade with a single rule: the most humiliated reaches the highest level of celebrity, at the expense of losing privacy but keeping public appearance, like a Big Brother contestant. This breaking plot suggests a critical interpretation about the lack of trust in political institutions, which lose the popular battle against the most traditional institutions. According to the plot, the second ones are in fact traditional only due to their impact on media, thus the People’s Princess is so, not only for being a Duchess, but for being familiar on TV and in the press. On the other hand, the Prime Minister’s behaviour is totally conditioned by the directions of public opinion. The crisis of parliamentary monarchy is depicted through an apocalyptic landscape: the empty streets of London and all the population gathered in front of TV screens to behold live the most absolute abasement of the Prime Minister. Also, the screenplay of this first episode offers a final twist by converting this socio-political experience into a subversive work, even more lethal to the political institution precisely for being screened to millions of viewers… and for this fact: its collective consumption becomes an extreme artistic phenomenon, praised by the critics of the media involved in its broadcast.

In: A Critical Approach to the Apocalypse