black mirror

All posts tagged black mirror

Black Mirror is a Netflix series with non sequential episodes. In other words, each episode is totally unique in setting, plot, and characters. You can watch the episodes in any order and not be negatively affected. Because of this, Black Mirror can make a multitude of commentaries on the human condition and it’s relation to technology in a variety of ways in a small number of episodes. While each episode explores the unanticipated effects of a new or existing technology on humans, each episode is unique in the way it achieves this.
It is a great show for entertainment purposes because it really twists your mind to look at our world in a different way. Some episodes such as s1e1 do this with subtle changes to our current world. Other episodes are drastically different. Regardless of the episodes differences, you can see trends among all dystopias.

The very first episode seems to be in a world portrayed to be exactly like ours. New technologies that have not been invented yet are not present at all. The basic plot is that a English princess is kidnapped and the captor does not offer a cash ransom. Instead, he says the prime minister has to have sex with a pig on live television. The key quote from this episode is the response when the prime minister asks “What is our move? What does the playbook say?” The response is “there is no play book.” The main point being made here is that social media and media in general has a relatively new role in politics. However, despite it being new, it has an extremely high amount of power. It is a new force that when in the wrong hands is impossible to prepare against. It is dangerous.
While the pilot includes no characters or actors in the following episodes, it is the perfect introduction to the series because it shows that a simple twist can point out a major potential danger in a technology advance society like ours. Furthermore, most of the following episodes are even more technologically advanced to show us the unpredictable affects of new technology. While some of the technology being viewed seems unachievable, it is still scary to watch because we know that the pace of our technological advancement far exceeds the pace of the policy regarding it. Simply put, there are consequences when we make things we do not know how to deal and live with it

The thing that interests me the most about dystopias is comparing the quality of life between the dystopia and real life. The technology tends to be more significantly more advanced in the dystopia. However, the advance in technology can point out some flaws in human nature. For example, a Black Mirror episode showcases a seemingly wonderful technology. The technology allows the elderly to enter a virtual world in any time period they want (70s, 80s, etc) and relive their youth once a week. However, they can choose to “pass over” and live there forever after they die. While the technology seems out of reach to me, I think it points out a flaw in us today. We spend some much of our time in a fake, virtual world through screens that we can forget to live our real lives.

My independent reading is proving to have a similar theme so far into my reading. I am reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The setting is a pretty horrible world riddled with problems and overall misery due to overpopulation, unemployment, and energy shortages. It provides for a bleak life, but thanks to technology, people can find an oasis in a video game world called the OASIS. Imagine a super realistic virtual reality paradise; that is the OASIS. It sounds appetizing so pretty much everybody logs into the OASIS every day to play. It provides the foundation for the human population to live two identities: who they are in the flesh and who they are in the OASIS.

Ready Player One and Black Mirror are making me ask a lot of questions about how technology is playing a role in our lives right now. The big question I find myself coming back to is, “Are we flawed for the way we use technology in our lives or is the technology flawed?” Like most black and white questions, I’m sure the answer will have some gray area. However, I hope with my upcoming research and continued reading of Ready Player One I can find and articulate an answer.