Rebellious pop star Miley Cyrus was the perfect pick to star in the new ‘Black Mirror’ episode “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” which deconstructs human beings as commodities, particularly when it comes to the cash cow of manufactured pop music. As Ashley O, Cyrus got to play both the easily-manipulated pop tart and tortured creator buried underneath.
The episode revolves around the 1989 anti-establishment Nine Inch Nails song ‘Head Like A Hole’. The song is presented in two formats, a straight rock cover, and as “On A Roll” a dance-pop reinvention, which changes the lyrics “Head like a hole, black as your soul, I’d rather die than give you control” into “Hey I’m a ho, I’m on a roll, flyin’ so high, achieving my goals.” “Bow down before the one you serve, you’re gonna get what you deserve” becomes “I’m stoked on ambition and verve, I’m gonna get what I deserve.”
RELATED: ‘Black Mirror’ Releases The Ironic– But Still Catchy– Music Video For Miley Cyrus’ “On A Roll” From “Rachel, Jack And Ashley Too”
A Miley fan at’ed ‘Black Mirror’ on Twitter, writing, “Omg Ashley O, I’m such a huge fan!! When will the Music video for ‘On a roll’ come out? That song is seriously my JAM!!” I think the fan was just playing along with the episode, which in many ways is a throwback to the TRL era, circa 2000.
— Black Mirror (@blackmirror) June 12, 2019
That message was sent yesterday, and making good on that promise, the “On A Roll” music video was released today. Aesthetically, it looks a lot like Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and musically, it sounds a lot like Cyrus’ own music from about ten years ago, during the “See You Again”/”Fly On A Wall” period. But you’ve got to appreciate the way she delivers the line “Hey I’m a ho!” with conviction and not an ounce of irony.
And make sure to watch the entire thing, as the ‘Black Mirror’ effect begins to shatter this glossy facade toward the end.
Discussing the episode with The Hollywood Reporter, executive producer Annabel Jones said:
“The film itself is really a sarcastic look at the entertainment industry and digital rights and what happens to artists when they’re more valuable as a digital property than they are in the real world, as seen recently by the Whitney Houston estate maybe bringing about a hologram of her and, in the past, Amy Winehouse’s family resurrecting her image. This idea that troubled pop stars who ultimately maybe were not supported by the music industry or couldn’t cope with that level of fandom, now they’re being brought back and people can enjoy their music again and the music can live on.
“But the idea that what destroyed the characters is going to now outlive them and have none of their identity and personality is such a ghoulish idea. And then, of course, the idea of AI being able to draw out more of their music for fans to enjoy. As the consumer, you need to ask yourself, “What if I end up liking that music?” You probably will and, is that true art? How do you feel when you want to go see a gig and it could be a massive hologram that you’re going to see and enjoy — does that feel like music? All of these are questions we’re going to be asking ourselves going forward because technology is enabling it to happen.”
Indeed the scene in which Ashley’s manipulative aunt unveils a giant hologram of Ashley O that will be able to continue to tour even after Ashley is gone is not too far off from Whitney Houston’s family planning a hologram tour of the deceased singer, who famously battled drug addiction throughout her lifetime. Does anyone want to see that?
“Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” is one of three new episodes of ‘Black Mirror’ Season 5, available now on Netflix.