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Charlie Brooker, Creator of ‘Black Mirror’, Reflects on the Timely Relevance of ‘Joan Is Awful’ Episode: ‘It Felt Surreal’

Charlie Brooker, creator of the Netflix series “Black Mirror,” released the season 6 premiere episode titled “Joan Is Awful” right in the midst of the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. The episode follows the story of Joan, played by Annie Murphy, whose life starts to unravel due to her constant exposure on an app called Streamberry. It explores the implications of willingly giving away our data to companies and computers with potentially questionable motives. “Joan Is Awful” quickly became a focal point for artists expressing concerns about the entertainment industry’s increasing reliance on AI technologies like ChatGPT and Midjourney.

“It was really odd,” Brooker mentioned in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He highlighted the timing of the episode’s production, which coincided with the emergence of ChatGPT and the subsequent discussions about the impact of generative AI on creative jobs. Brooker acknowledged that the strikes brought these conversations to the forefront, emphasizing the relevance of the episode’s themes to the ongoing industry challenges.

Brooker also shared that both Annie Murphy and Salma Hayek, who starred in the episode, were already attuned to the issues surrounding AI and its potential consequences. Their involvement in the project was driven by their existing concerns about deepfake technology and fake imagery, particularly in the context of the entertainment industry. Brooker expressed gratitude for the actors’ commitment to the story and its broader implications, noting the relevance of the narrative to the evolving technological landscape.

According to Brooker, the personal resonance of the storyline with the cast members, coupled with its thematic relevance to the industry dynamics, contributed to the episode’s impact. He highlighted the importance of addressing these complex issues in an engaging and thought-provoking manner, aiming to spark conversations and raise awareness about the challenges posed by advancing AI technologies.

Trailer for “Black Mirror” Season 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQb7eCvR3YE