Hey everyone! After a pretty significant hiatus I’ve decided to start blogging and writing again. Thank you to those people who encouraged me and prompted me to get back into this. I’ve missed writing and am looking forward to rambling on and getting some psychological release.
Well, first things first. This blog post is about the Black Mirror episode “Striking Vipers”. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t seen it and spoilers bother you then you should probably go watch it first. I mean, honestly, the episode is great so you should watch it right now whether you’ve seen it or not. Alright, on with the show…
I absolutely fucking loved this episode. If you know me that probably doesn’t surprise you. I still don’t have a solid handle on my thoughts but I’m going to just kind of spew out on to the screen and see what materializes.
In general, men aren’t allowed much intimacy with each other. You can have a best friend that you’ve known for decades but to exhibit any affection beyond maybe a hug or an occasional “love you bro” is frowned upon… suppressed… punished. And it is that suppression that boils up inside of us and can contribute to violence, mental and physical health problems, and destroyed relationships.
In “Striking Vipers” the two protagonists have a pretty standard guy friendship that fades away as one gets married and has kids. It is pretty damn tough to maintain any type of friendship when lifestyles start to drift in different direction, at least that has been my experience as a 37-year old, intentionally childless guy.
Anyway, their friendship reunites due to a super futuristic video game where you can basically do whatever you want. It is a fighting game but these two guys end up fucking instead. When they entered a fantasy world and were able to be inside different bodies, their affection and love and lust (maybe) for each other came out. They wanted to bang each other. They wanted to display affection. They wanted a new level of intimacy with each other. But they felt they couldn’t in “the real world”.
So, does this mean they are gay?
Nah… they both seem to thoroughly enjoy sexual and emotional relationships with women.
Well, maybe they are bi?
Maybe… but I actually think putting a label like that on it is both overly simplistic and unnecessarily complicated. Attraction is more complicated than “Man = No” “Woman = Yes”. I truly think that absent all this shitty social conditioning we’d all by pansexual, because at the end of the day attraction is about the mind, the person as a whole, more than it is the body.
Of course, when the characters in the show realize that they have an intimacy and attraction with each other it causes all sorts of drama (which is to be expected in a show). They don’t have a healthy way to handle it, there is no framework for them to work within.
What do you do when you fuck your best friend in a video game? Logically you can, and should, talk to all relevant parties to discuss things.
Is that cheating? It depends on the relationship… Not in my relationship but we should all probably have these conversations with our partner(s) before they become issues.
Do you tell your partner? Do you discuss it outside of the game? Was it a one time thing?
All this requires talking but that is another thing that guys suck ass at doing. So instead, the characters hide it from their partners, bottle up their feelings, and end up fighting in a parking lot. Because when a guy’s masculinity is challenged we usually fall back on the one emotion that we are allowed to feel: anger.
As if some how giving pleasure to someone you love makes you less masculine. This shitty toxic masculinity is both a symptom and the cause of so many problems in our society.
In the end, this episode is one of the few that ends with a happy ending. The characters end up discussing it with the necessary parties and develop a non-monogamous relationship that fits all their needs. And you know I LOVE seeing non-monogamous relationships normalized. There is nothing morally wrong with having sex, flirting, being attracted to, or even falling in love with people who are not the person that you agreed to spend your life with, as long as everyone involved consents.
So, in the end when the married couple set aside one day where he can bang his best friend on a video game and she can go out to the bars and get some strange I see that as a wonderful thing. That is a healthy relationship. That is one in which the participants recognize that we all change, we all have feelings, and that we are all capable of vast amounts of love and affection. And a relationship is pretty shitty if it requires you to prevent your partner from feeling joy and pleasure and love and free expression.
As usual, Black Mirror shows us something that we all may need to deal with sooner rather than later. This video game technology won’t be here any time soon, but more and more people are opening up relationships and recognizing that a lifetime together doesn’t need to mean monogamy. Whether it is swinger’s clubs, Burning Man, or chat rooms, there are more and more opportunities to escape to a place where we can be our true selves through anonymity… and there are more places where our partner’s can do the same. And we should encourage them to do that.