Do not look at your Twitter feed unless Sandra Bullock tells you to look. SANDRA DECIDES WHO LOOKS.
Do not look at your Twitter feed unless Sandra Bullock tells you to look. SANDRA DECIDES WHO LOOKS. Paras Griffin / GETTY IMAGES

Last week Netflix and Twitter conspired to issue an ultimatum: either watch Bird Box right now, or sit around and wonder why the hell everyone is posting memes of Sandra Bullock running through a forest wearing a blindfold. This is the ransom that social media and streaming services are constantly asking us to pay. Spend two good hours of miraculous human life on what's sure to be supremely mediocre entertainment, or risk missing out on a "cultural moment."

In this case, an overwhelming number of us decided to pay that ransom. Last Friday Netflix posted a tweet claiming that over 45 million people had streamed its horror movie, shattering its previous records for most streams in an opening week. There have been many takes, but the only take you need is right here.

As a phenomenon, Bird Box may indeed be a "sea change in the entertainment promotional complex." But as a piece of art, the movie is only tolerable if you see it as a film about Twitter being an awful place.

Just think about it. The premise of the story is that wind aliens (?) suddenly descend upon the world. If you go outside, then the beings will show you your worst fear, which causes you immediately to kill yourself. There's a certain group of people who think that looking at their worst fears over and over again is beautiful, and they constantly try to force other people to open their eyes and look at the wind aliens. (Something that sucks: these "crazy people," to use the film's term, are people with mental health issues that have been held in psychiatric hospitals. This plot point perpetuates the misguided notion that people with mental health disorders are out there trying to kill you or to infect you with their depression, when in reality people with mental health issues are the ones subject to a disproportionate amount of violence. Okay, mini-rant over.) For some reason, birds can detect these wind aliens / "crazy people," and they go nuts when those beings are near. To stay safe—to stay "informed" about the potential for wind aliens—people in the movie walk around with birds in boxes.

So: the logo for Twitter is a bird, the tweets come in little boxes, and you can't look at that website without killing yourself because the trolls are always trying to force you to see stuff you don't want to see. The movie's message is simple: if you tweet and your mentions start blowing up, then DO NOT LOOK. You have to call Sandra Bullock on the telephone and she will decide who will look, who will "engage" with the tweet. Semi-spoiler alert: the answer will always be the same. NO ONE SHOULD LOOK AT THEIR TWEETS. And, in general, it's probably best to never Tweet.

With this reading, the film critiques the very platform that helped launch its record-breaking popularity, which is one of the few responsible subjects for art made under capitalism, which makes it good. In all other ways, the film is mediocre but sufficiently scary.

If you do not agree with this hot Bird Box take, then the dark cynicism of John Malkovich's character, who was clearly a metaphor for a hyper isolationist MAGA troll, will haunt you for the rest of your days.