There's no doubting that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a choose-your-own-adventure game-changer, albeit a divisive one. And yes, the Black Mirror creators are aware of Bandersnatch criticism, but, no, the team behind Netflix's Emmy-winning dystopian anthology — consisting of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones — isn't terribly concerned with detractors, as they recently told HuffPost UK.
"It's been interesting that you get different reactions from different people, partly based on what they’re expecting, or what they want," Brooker told the website. "So some people go, 'oh, I’m sh*t at this,' and you sort of go, 'no no, it’s alright, we've built in that you’re going to fail.' We're trying to make you fail a couple of times so that you have to go around and do things again, and that’s sort of baked into the story."
Brooker said he's also heard critiques from "some people that are like 'I don’t wanna make decisions’, 'I don't want to do any of it.'" To those commenters, his responses have been decidedly more pointed: "Well f*ck off, then. Do something else!" he added to HuffPost UK.
The game-style movie certainly isn't for those with an aversion to decision making anyway. The choices viewers must make throughout the course of the film range from the mundane, such as which breakfast cereal to eat or music to play, to the more gruesome and consequential, like whether or not to kill off certain characters, and, if you do so, how to dispose of their dead bodies.
"And then there’s some people who think 'oh, it's too simple as a game' or 'games have done this before' — well this isn’t on a gaming platform, it’s on Netflix. I’m well aware of what a computer game is, thanks," added Brooker of the 1984-set Dec. 28 Netflix release that follows the twisty journey of a fledgling video game programmer named Stefan (Fionn Whitehead).
According to Jones, it was a risk they were willing to take: "It’s very difficult because obviously it’s interactive, and you don’t know the order in which people have played or watched it, but it’s quite daunting letting it go out there and letting people have their own experiences ... You are quite vulnerable, because as filmmakers you dictate the story, and here we are going, ‘experience, go and have an experience’. So that’s obviously terrifying."
Even so, she added to Huffpost UK that "it's just so satisfying that so many people have engaged with it," nothing that viewer interest is "all you can hope for."
For those who'd rather just be told one story, "this is designed where you’re going to experience more than one ending to get a sense of the whole," explained Jones. "We don’t expect you to do all of them, it’s just the more you do, hopefully the more fun an experience you’ll have."
Not everyone involved with Bandersnatch has quite taken in stride some mean-spirited feedback, however. Actor Will Poulter took a social media break to focus on his mental health just days after the standalone Black Mirror movie premiered. Poulter, who played seasoned video game programmer Colin, explained his online hiatus in a Jan. 2 tweet:
"In light of my recent experiences I am choosing to take a step back, of sorts, from Twitter. Before I do, I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you to everybody who has watched Bandersnatch and for their responses (whatever they may be) to the material we created. I accept all criticisms and it's been a delight to learn that so many of you enjoyed what many people worked very hard to produce."
As was the case with Bandersnatch (and every full-length Black Mirror season before it), Netflix is keeping the details on Black Mirror Season 5 totally under wraps. Fans did get one major spoiler, however, when Miley Cyrus confirmed her upcoming Black Mirror role for Season 5 during a Dec. 12 appearance on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show.
"It was a really weird learning experience for me, because I was so far from home and the show is already really dark, and it's already kind of eerie when you're there the whole time," she told Stern, without ever explicitly mentioning the name of the streaming hit. "But I learned a lot about myself and I think I was able to kind of use that and put that into it."
Were Brooker and Jones upset about the leak? When asked by HuffPost UK about Cyrus, the creators feigned a Mariah Carey "I don't know her" moment, coyly asking, "Who?" in unison. While Brooker asked if Cyrus is the one who just got married, Jones replied, "Never heard of her."
And, just like that, the Black Mirror mysteries continue.