A twisted, high-tech, near-future drama

Eileen McCormick / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

Black Mirror is a British science fiction anthology television series created by Charlie Brooke. The series first aired on British TV in 2011 but gained Internet popularity when it was released on Netflix in 2017.

Critics and fans alike have compared the mini-series to the American television series The Twilight Zone. This is because both shows have taken aim at some ethical dilemmas of the modern times, with each episode covering different story lines.

The series, whose title refers to the black reflective surface of digital screens that exist everywhere in our lives from our phone screens to computer screens and to television screens, is a fictional work by nature. But its dark theme evolving around human nature and the consequences brought about by modernity feels painfully real.

What are these black mirrors trying to show us?

Black Mirror has a general underlining theme running throughout its four seasons – the complexity that technology and media play in our everyday lives. It also asks us to see what the possible implications technology will play in our future.

Though each episode presents different plots, there is always one character who ends up trapped by technology and media, unable to make decisions on his own anymore.

The first episode of Black Mirror provides a plot line of a kidnapped socialite princess who can only be saved if the prime minister goes on national TV and fornicates with a pig. The social voyeurism that ensues due to the 24-hour news coverage shows just how obsessed we are to watching strange events.

We are quick to realize how news and media have developed people’s hive minds. The voyeur, who is all of us, has become habituated to the consumption of exploitative media and disposable, sensationalized news stories. Without the media sensationalism surrounding the pig, the kidnapper wouldn’t have nearly the same overwhelming control over the country.

It is clear that the general public has little self awareness about the possibility of harm being inflicted on a royal by its grotesque curiosity of seeing something as bizarre as the pig-sex. The public thinks that their pseudo “care” towards the situation makes them socially acceptable. Everyone’s desperation to become part of this history is what gives the episode a push to ultimately unfold.

The second episode moves us into the realm of reality television with a twist. Society must now live their lives in a square box filled with TV screens that imposes a 360-degree view of everything. From waking up in the morning to playing games to exercising, it’s all on the screen.

This new way of living comes at a cost. Each time one clicks, points are subtracted. There are ways to gain more points such as watching advertisements and if you make the choice to skip the ads, points can be subtracted.

The dark nature of society’s new found unlimited access to viewing becomes apparent when a once shy girl is accepted onto a show called Hot Shots, similar to American Idol and the likes of talent shows broadcasted almost every night on national television in modern times. The girl impresses the show’s judges with her singing voice. But since the show does not need more singers, she is offered a role on a pornography show. Perhaps the real kicker happens when her friend tries to get vengeance for her.

Bing, the girl’s friend, creates a plan to make his way onto Hot Shots. He walks up the stage and leaves judges in awe of his dance moves. But Bing stops and asks the judges and the crowd to hear him out. Threatening to end his own life with a shard of glass, Bing rants about the unfair system of the industry and how heartless the people in the show have become.

Bing says: “The faker the fodder, the more you love it, because fake fodder’s the only thing that works any more. It’s all that we can stomach. Actually, not quite all. Real pain, real viciousness, that, we can take.

“Yeah, stick a fat man up a pole. We laugh ourselves feral, because we’ve earned the right, we’ve done cell time and he’s slacking, the scum, so ha-ha-ha at him! Because we’re so out of our minds with desperation, we don’t know any better.”

“All we know is fake fodder and buying shit. That’s how we speak to each other, how we express ourselves, is buying shit. What, I have a dream? The peak of our dreams is a new app for our Dopple, it doesn’t exist! It’s not even there! We buy shit that’s not even there.”

Sadly, his message does not get the attention it deserves. Bing unexpectedly finds himself being thrown into stardom for creating a dramatic entertaining effect for the viewers. His main purpose in auditioning for Hot Shots has been defeated as he becomes the show’s new big star.

What happened to Bing seems to prove that in this age when everything happens with a swipe of a finger, no one really wants change.

As the series is in four seasons, I have done some research for best rated episodes. There is no need to watch all of them, as there is not a story line that follows from the previous episode to the next.

Top rated Black Mirror episodes are:

Season 3, Episode 6: “Hated in the Nation”

Season 2, Episode 3: “The Waldo Moment”

Season 1, Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits.

Season 2, Episode 2: “White Bear”

Season 3, Episode 2: “Playtest”

Season 2, Episode 1: “Be Right Back”

Season 2, Episode 4: “White Christmas”

This show may not be for everyone but it’s a good watch if you like shows or movies with an introspective look at society. The show also allows some satire and dark humor.

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