About Those Vipers
I love the Black Mirror series on Netflix. The futuristic, twilight zone-esque series is set in the future but not as far into the future as Star Trek. What makes Black Mirror so terrifying is that it feels like just in minutes into the future. The story lines are close enough to feel plausible, make me think, and really scare me. I love it!
So, when my friend Faith told me that a new season was out, I had to check it out. To be honest, her insistence that I tune in gave me a heads up that this season was going to be good. Well, first up was the Striking Vipers episode. (NOTE: IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED IT, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON.)
Striking Vipers is a story about a couple looking for more in their relationship. That is a really simplified version of a story that has as many tons of twists and turns as this one. I promise you will not be bored. The episode starts off with Danny (played by Anthony Mackie) and Theo (played by Nicole Behari) doing a bit of role-playing while on a date until their roommate Karl (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) shows up. When they all head home, Karl and Danny play Striking Viper, a Street Fighter-like game until Theo interrupts and tells them to settle down. Fast forward several years and Danny and Theo are married with a kid and throwing a party. Karl comes by to celebrate and brings a gift for Danny - the updated version of Striking Vipers. That’s where things get tricky.
Now I am not going to do a full recap. For that, you need to watch the episode. But let’s talk about a few of the themes and questions that I thought about while watching the episode.
While watching the first sexual interaction inside the video game, I thought ok, so this is the future of porn and honestly a not so far away future. Any trip to the Hustler store will show you contraptions that you can use virtually, so the technology really didn’t seem that far fetched to me. So on first glance, I have to admit I shrugged it off as “eh, this is just a choose your own adventure porn hub. Nothing much to worry about.” But wait… there’s more.
Then I began to question if it was more than “normal” porn because of the interaction between people who know each other. Kind of the difference between watching pornhub by yourself and sexting your lover. One is more intimate due to the interaction between folks who know each other. That’s when I had a problem with the video game. You may disagree, but I felt that if the game was just you versus the computer, that the interaction wouldn’t have been so bad however due to the fact that they knew each other intensified the attraction and moved the game playing from porn addiction into the adultery category.
Now that we are fully in adultery territory, it was interesting to see how Danny tried to hide the affair and began withdrawing from Theo. I am not going to go into the gender fluidity rabbit hole because much has been written on that all ready. Instead I want to focus on the dinner where Theo tells Danny about her feelings. She shares how she feels unwanted, how she feels less desirable and how the attention from other men is making her feel. He had ample opportunity to open up but instead was silent thereby increasing the wedge between them. Look, I am not saying that every wife would be ok with you being in a virtual porn addiction/relationship but you have to be transparent with your spouse. And think about it… if you are feeling like your relationship needs a jumpstart, chances are your spouse is feeling it too. By not having transparent albeit seriously difficult conversations, you are depriving both of you from actually getting what you need to either become happier in your current relationship or disband the relationship and move on.
Which brings me to my final point (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT HERE) his transparency allowed them to redefine their relationship for themselves. While the ending was nontraditional, it was their marriage and they were making it work for them. When we talk about adultery, there is a common belief among women that women are more apt to forgive a man for cheating however a man would never forgive a woman for the same transgressions. This episode didn’t have that hang up. The two of them were redefining their relationship with mutual benefits for both of them. While it may be not right for most marriages, I think that it was great that the show addressed the needs of both people.
So I know I gave the show all away but trust me and watch Striking Vipers. Once you do, please share your thoughts. I really want to know your take.