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Friday, June 25, 2021

How a satire on the internet industry became the chronicle of an autoparodic reality

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

‘Silicon Valley’ started its sixth season with a curious blow in its approach that could be extravagant for the occasional observer. In it, Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendricks declares to the Senate about his claim to help create a decentralized and anonymous Internet, one in which the kings of the network have no power because the owners of everything are users. It is a clumsy and hilarious intervention, with a clear real base but reminiscent, perhaps more than at any other time in the series, of when Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, told the Senate about very similar issues.

Of course, showing off the great interpretation of Thomas Middleditch, Zuckerberg’s robotic behaviour, almost close to the Disturbing Valley, is extraordinarily well parodied, because, in addition, reality influenced (once again) the fiction of the series. ‘Silicon Valley’ goes from a group of gifted technology experts for work and underfunded for everything else that has a technology that can revolutionize the Internet and that they want to reach as many people as possible. The series uses that exaggerated ethical dummy to highlight the real companies, which are just the opposite.

However, there is a difference, because although the reference is clear, for the first time in the series, in a dialogue of that sequence, Facebook, Google and Amazon are expressly mentioned, saying that they will make efforts to preserve the privacy of users, something that Hendricks knows is not going to happen. That is to say, the series has gone from being a parody of the delusional excesses (of the most frivolous, embodied by the manager of an unfortunate incubator Elrich Bachman to the most Machiavellian, to those who give Yian Yang or Gavin Belson body) to adopt a clear posture.

For the first time, we know that Pied Piper is not a distorted reflection of Facebook (or rather of an amalgam of technology companies where, yes, there is a CEO insufferably ill-endowed for social relations), or that Hooli is not a very clear transcript of Google, but they are in our same reality, where there are all those companies, which are the real villains. Of course, before, real companies had made winks in the series, some had come to cite, but never so clearly and openly, and above all, never with this position so frank, and even somewhat aggressive.

When reality advances fiction

But why has this decision been reached? What motivates ‘Silicon Valley’ to soften its initial satirical component? According to Alec Berg, executive producer of the series, in an interview with Mashable, “it ‘s a series about inspiration. You can only be an outsider for a limited time. Six seasons is the appropriate amount of time.” That is, the series has followed its own narrative dynamic in which a group of technology entrepreneurs become a revelation of telecommunications. It would be absurd, after having portrayed a trajectory full of ups and downs, to send them back to the exit box. The story concludes where it has to end.

But there is another fundamental aspect: it is inevitable to realize that reality has overwhelmingly advanced fiction in terms of bitter, almost parodic cruelty. The best example is in a recent presentation: that of the Tesla Cybertruck wherein a demonstration of the unbreakable glass of the vehicle (and a little cartoony in itself) these broke without difficulty with a couple of impacts. A ridiculous situation that seemed out of the script of a sitcom of uncomfortable humor.

Elon Musk has a clear reference in the series, billionaire Russ Hanneman, creator of the Tres Comas rum brand (“as in a billion dollars “) and who has given his chest in this last season with the creation of the insane RussFest festival (” we are going to start the revolution in the middle of the fucking desert “), which has again been surpassed in reality by a clear reference. The slow-motion holocaust of the Fyre Festival, which showed more clearly than any melodrama that the rich also cry. In fact, the RussFest ends up going well, but even if it hadn’t been, the feeling is that it couldn’t have gone worse than the Fyre.

Mike Judge, co-creator of the series, is no stranger to this feeling that reality becomes a three-track circus that dynamites any possibility of parody. His is ‘Idiocracy’, a cult dystopia of 2006 to which many butts can be put, such as his apparent defence of glups, eugenics, but which cannot be denied an indisputable visionary ability. As has been pointed out, again and again, the wrestler moron who has become president of the United States, Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, has more than one chilling parallel with Donald Trump.

Berg himself said about the political satire ‘Veep’, also from HBO: “It was time for ‘Veep’ to end because satire shows things in an extreme way to make its ridiculous. How do you make them things are more extreme when you have already exceeded all extremisms? ” We live in that world, I remember you with resignation, in which Boris Johnson not only wins an election but hides in a cold room to avoid an awkward interview.

The moral complexity of the sixth season

It is clear that the goal of the series when it started was to laugh at the millionaires absolutely oblivious to the real world that populated the real Silicon Valley. That generated some discomfort among people like Musk himself, who were ridiculed by the ruthless acidity of the series, giving rise to such delusional situations as when the Tesla CEO accused those responsible for not having an adequate global vision because they had never been in Burning Man (so in its last season, the RussFest closes a certain cycle as well).

At first, the series shot in all directions: incubators and accelerators, expert lawyers in start-ups, focus groups, marketing miseries, private betas … but finally, it has ended up settling in its observation of people behind all this. Initial villains like Gavin Belson are nuanced and, although they are still pathetic nemesis of Hendricks, their motivations are relativized and become more empathic for the viewer.

The clearest example of this change is in the character of Jared Dunn, the marketing expert who enters Pied Piper to help with the company’s commercial approach . Obsessed with pleasing his CEO to extremes of humanity that often make us wonder what the hell an angel of goodness of that category does in a place like Silicon Valley, goes from being a comic relief to a three-dimensional character and that brings a touch of reliability, doubt and empathy to everything that happens in the company.

In the sixth season, Richard has to face the greatest of his enemies: the conflicts that generate the most exorbitant economic offers, but also the most immoral implications he has ever received. For example, at the end of that first chapter of the season where he begins by claiming an ethical and global internet, the vision of the dollar symbol makes him falter.

And that is the finding of this final stretch: distancing oneself from the parody to focus on the portrait allows them to endow their characters with some moral complexity, and for the first time we are really threatened not only with survival but with Pied Piper’s own integrity. It is a logical evolution for a series that began as a wild comedy to denounce excesses of the world of technology and has ended up as a somewhat bitter, disenchanted and twilight reflection on the inevitability of certain evils … to which we are equally bound To face us

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