Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”

Black Mirror / Netflix (Released 6/5/19)

Directed by Anne Sisisky / Written by Charlie Brooker

Starring Miley Cyrus, Angourie Rice, Madison Davenport and Susan Pourfar

Review By John Fraim

________________________________________

Scroll to the bottom of this page and start the Ashley O song.

Then, back here to start reading the below

 

The on-line, on-demand, streaming TV industry seems like another wild west environment. New series come out in a new age that many label as the “Golden Age of Television.” Steaming TV. Netflix and Hulu and more and more today.

Those used to regular schedules and a linear time frame feel out of place in the emerging non-linear world developing more each day all around us. Yes, it is a generational thing in a lot of ways. Yet, it seems penetrate and infiltrate generational boundaries.

This relates to a lot of things but here I want to focus on that new form and delivery vehicle of entertainment called on-demand, streaming. One of the greatest advantages of streaming, on-demand entertainment delivery is because one has demanded entertainment via clicks on your Smart TV rather than buttons pushed on your cable TV device. Viewers are computer users to the grand computer entertainment streamer Netflix.

It is only logical that there will be a huge increase in info on users of an on-demand media than network or broadcast. There is much more info on viewers. It is the first time ever the entertainment world has been able to do this to such a degree. Streaming is the greatest way to measure audience interaction and reaction.

* * *

There are many good things about on-demand streaming TV but one of the bad things – I believe – is that this new world has developed few real navigational advisors or tour guides to the incredible developing world of on-demand entertainment. The new media presents so many new problems. What is the rating for the program? Since people watch on-demand, how does one measure on-demand and create a rating system like a Neilson rating in on-demand. There are some but nothing what it might become.

I think it is important to emphasize here that it is not entertainment broadcast or released in the theaters at one time but on-demand entertainment via Smart TV of the consumer and not the release date of the producer. Americans are still getting used to on-demand schedules but it much fits the non-linear lifestyle of today. This new non-linear, on demand entertainment release makes for an unusual mixture of various stories floating around, mixing it up with each other in that particular McLuhanesque ether they mix it up within.

That’s why I see a relationship to the wild west landscape of the cannabis industry. The on-demand entertainment industry seems much like the growing new cannabis industry.

Finally, a friend for her in Ashley Too

One of the main things I’ve noticed in all of this is that these on-demand episodes in series or anthologies come and go without any type of method for individual episodes to rise to the top of the modern entertainment heap (or whatever one calls it) or be recognized with an Academy Award.

A Netflix produced stark black-and-white depiction of Mexico City in the 1970s and the savage government crackdown on student protesters, earned its film Romaopened up mainstream US moviegoers to a cinematic world rarely captured in Hollywood masterpieces. But – as one critic writes – more than just becoming the first Best Picture nominee for a film with the main character speaking the Mesoamerican indigenous language Mixtec, the Netflix original production directed by Alfonso Cuaron has turned the movie business on its head.

In conventional showbiz, the best movies are awarded Oscars, and the best television programs score big at the Emmys. Yet with the advent of online streaming for on-demand film content, the distinction between the silver screen and the tube become fuzzy. There is nothing like the Oscar/Emmy system in on-demand and perhaps there can’t be. But there needs to be some system. A way of crowning its reigning champions.

* * *

One of the greatest film stories I’ve seen is the last episode of the brilliant British science fiction anthology Black Mirror. The episode is titled “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” and features a brilliant (Academy nominee) performance by Miley Cyrus. It is the last of the twenty-two episodes produced for five seasons of Black Mirror. Below is the 22ndepisode, the clast of the 3 releases from Black Mirrorin 2019

Black Mirrorwas created by Englishman Charlie Brooker and produced by his company Zeppotron. It examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Episodes are standalone, usually set in an alternative or the near future, often with a dark and satirical tone, though some are more experimental and lighter. It mainly focuses on humanity’s relationship to technology and its consequences. The episodes are stand-alone and vary between 41 and 89 minutes in length. As of 5 June 2019, 22 episodes of Black Mirror have been released, the first two series of Black Mirror comprised three episodes each and aired on Channel 4 in London from 2011 to 2013, along with the special episode “White Christmas” in 2014.

Netflix purchased the program in 2015, and commissioned a series of twelve episodes, which was later divided into two separate series. The third and fourth series, each comprising six episodes, were released in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The fifth series of three episodes was released on 5 June 2019.

* * *

The anthology series finds its original inspiration in Brooker’s love for theTwilight Zone. It was that anthology series that was able to deal with controversial, contemporary topics without fear of censorship. Brooker developed Black Mirror to highlight topics related to humanity’s relationship to technology.

Black Mirror is the second major homage to Twilight Zone today on streaming TV.

The first is Jordan Peele’s remake of Twilight Zone. But perhaps most true to the satire and social comment of the original Twilight Zoneis Black Mirror. If Rod Sterling was creating stories today, it seems likely to he would be creating stories for Black Mirror. Like Sterling, Brooker’s greatest achievement is keeping social comment, satire and comedy about our culture always at its forefront when creating stories.

Social comment, satire and comedy gives one see an external, outside perspective on their life. It’s difficult to get this outside perspective on the digital life. It’s something we can’t see since it’s all around us. An environment. More than any other dramatic device, satire and comedy allow an outside, third person, narrator to peer into this environment – from the outside.

The plot for the brilliant story “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” – in effect the last so far in the brilliant work of Charlie Brooker – is classicTwilight Zone. Making a comment on our culture of fame and its price as well as our digital culture and our devices such as Alexa. The plot is briefly described below.

Rachel and Jack are sisters who live with their father after their mother’s death. For her birthday, Rachel gets an AI doll called Ashley Too, designed after the popstar Ashley O. She dances to an Ashley O song at the school talent competition, but the routine ends badly. Meanwhile, Ashley O refuses to take pills given to her by Catherine, her manager and aunt, and plans to use the illegal activity as a way to get out of her contract. Catherine realizes this and puts the powdered pills into her food, to put her in a coma.

When Ashley Too sees that Ashley O is comatose on a news report, she malfunctions. Jack manages to remove part of the software from her and the doll comes to life, claiming to be a digital copy of Ashley O which previously had a limiter on its brain function. Ashley Too convinces Jack and Rachel to go to her house to find evidence against Catherine, and Jack drives dangerously to their house.

They pretend to be mouse catchers for the bodyguard to let them in and Rachel and Ashley Too find Ashley O comatose with physical restraints in her bedroom. Ashley Too unplugs a wire attached to Ashley O and she begins to regain consciousness. An employee of Catherine is alerted to this and comes to sedate her; Rachel and Jack manage to use his sedative against him.

With Rachel and Jack, Ashley O crashes a venue where Catherine is delivering a speech announcing a new holographic Ashley O who will perform on tour. Later, Jack and Ashley O are seen performing alternative music together.

* * *

The episode “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” is one of the greatest expressions about modern fame and technology I’ve ever seen. Not only the brilliant performance by Miley Cyrus deserve some recognition but also Susan Pourfar

As well as new comers Angourie Rice and Madison Davenport.

It occupies that interesting position as the last episode of a five-year series on streaming television. With it, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brookner seems to be making some statement to us. He is not sure himself at this time whether it will be his final statement on Black Mirror. The end of a five-year run.

Yet “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” represents an important new perspective about our world. Yes, it will most likely be somewhat buried in the avalanche of new content on streaming television. There is little chance you are going to hear about it too much via social media. This is one of the real tragedies. Does there need to be a type of Rotten Tomatoes for on-demand TV? A new navigator to the on-demand world of episodes of on-demand television. And, getting these individual episodes the attention and praise they deserve.

Like “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” written by Charlie Brooker and Directed by Anne Sewitsky and Starring Miley Cyrus. An interesting social situation is immediately presented to us: a widowed father raising his two teen-age daughters. Somewhere out in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley it seems to me.

Miley is absolutely explosive in this story. On fire in this story. If anyone ever questioned her ability to act, she gives a definite answer in this powerful performance.

It seems there is little distance between acting and real life for Miley in the story. It is a film she might have financed herself. In many ways, it seems a metaphor for her own life. It questions the effects of fame and celebrity in the world. This is one of the story’s main topics. And, what a better person to question this than Miley Cyrus?

Miley gives an incredible performance in this last episode of Black Mirror. What an incredible cap to the 22 episodes of the on-demand series. Will it be renewed? Its life extended from the five seasons and twenty-two episodes of its life so far. and shows to anyone that her acting talent needs to be re-evaluated. This is an amazing perform. A performance one seldom sees on television.

The story is incredibly well-written by Brooker. There are many fascinating dramatic moments in the film that makes for powerful audience identification with the characters and events of the story. For example, it is such a good idea that Brooker brings Ashley O back to life in the story. (Has anyone thought about the relationship to the Sleeping Beautyfairy tale and Ashley O when on her induced coma from her (evil) aunt?

The scene of the two girls waking the great rock star from her forced coma (imposed by her aunt) and their escape and trip to the theater is priceless and one of the best I’ve seen.

* * *

The story deals with modern fame perhaps better than any film or novel or story or music I’ve watched or seen or listened to. More than anything, it seems to me to be the story of an outcast little girl in Middle School who identifies with leading pop celebrity Ashley O (Miley Cyrus).

How many millions of young girls today does this apply to? How many young girls once identified with Miley Cyrus?

Yet besides Miley it is also the story of the strange relationship between the celebrity and a robotic toy of the celebrity. Much like Alexa. But Ashley Too is super intelligent and has things programed into it from the famous celebrity it is a toy of.

The small doll robot leads the two sisters on a hunt for the real Ashley O – now under an artificially induced coma by her cruel aunt and manager (a modern Elvis Presley manager-type Colonel Parker). The two girls take their father’s strange truck with a mouse on it with Ashley O to go to a concert the evil aunt is putting on.

Miley Cyrus / An Explosive Performance

Whether “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” will be the final episode of Black Mirror is hard to see now, in early June of 2019. It is the week the three 2019 episodes of Black Mirrorhave been released and downloaded in various streams for the past few weeks. What is the consensus on Black Mirror? Is another season warranted? We’ll probably have the answer in a few months. This is how ratings go with the on-demand ratings everyone’s trying to figure out these days. Trying to handicap them – it seems to me – almost like a horse race.

Whether the series gets renewed or not, Black Mirror has produced a brilliant modern museum of a symbolic update of the Twilight Zone series into the modern world. More than anyone, Charlie Brooker understands Rod Sterling, in fact seems to be channeling him at times.

The brilliant “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” might be one of the greatest allegories for many lives in the modern world. In part, it is the story of a person desiring to escape the prison of fame and success. In another, it was the story of a young girl who idolized this person and ended up buying a robotic doll based around the celebrity.

For now, the last episode of Black Mirrorseems to sit there … taunting all who have seen its brilliance. It is almost like a challenge from Brooker to go with other stories like this brilliant story or go another way. In mid-June of 2019, it is still too early to tell which way all of this will go.

Hopefully, the brilliance of “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” will be realized by a greater number of people. Most likely, it has gotten somewhat tangled up in this new on-demand release month of June. Miley Cyrus is brilliant in the film. As also Angourie Rice, Madison Davenport and Susan Pourfar. Beautifully shot and edited. Scenes reminding this LA native of the northern part of the San Fernando Valley. Capturing modern teenage life with a widowed father in a beautiful manner.

In my mind, it has to only beat one other Black Mirror episode and that is “USS Callister,” the brilliant standout episode from Black Mirror’s season four. It certainly equals this other brilliant story from Black Mirror. The Callister story pays homage to the past. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too play homage to the current and future world of teenagers and their idols. Both represnet the two masterpieces of this incredible series so far. Perhaps the final masterpieces if Black Mirror is not renewed.

And of course this would be a shame, unless Charlie was tired of five seasons and wanted to go onto to something else. Maybe take some time off.

Charlie Brooker / Creator of Black Mirror

___________________________________________________

Deepfakes (like this episode of Black Mirror is about) will pose a legal and ethical dilemma for Hollywood in the future. Hollywood Reporter article.

See early reviews of the episode here.

Questions remain.

For instance, are certain genres of literature more suited for helping people understand the current world than others?

The dramatic difference between story and story series.

Perhaps film and literary genres related to story and story series forms?

Remaining questions. Moving on to new questions. Always the dynamics of remaining and moving on in my life it seems.

Below, the best music to read all the above by.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s