By Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU.
Black Mirror is one of the most original Tv Shows of the last 5 years. Created by Charlie Brooker, this show is centred around dark themes examining modern society. How human beings uses new technologies and how it influences their lifes is often approached in these standalone episodes.
Which episodes reflect the best our modern society?
The first episode of the show is called “The National Anthem”. In this episode, the British Prime minister has to take his responsibilities to save the life of Princess Susannah, the princess of the Royal Family. She has been kidnapped and will be killed unless the Prime Minister has sexual intercourse with a pig on National Television. Here, the show-runner asks to every watcher a simple question: What do we value more? Our dignity and integrity as a free society? Or the life of one particular girl? The truth is that the citizens oblige the Prime Minister to do it or he would be hated by the entire country. People want to watch someone get humiliated, they want to watch their Prime Minister get humiliated so that they feel better about themselves. But by doing so isn’t it a sign of a profound disrespect towards themselves and their own society and values? Isn’t that the sign of a society abandoned by respect? This a perfect portrait of our modern society ruled by TV Narcissism.
The episode “The Entire History of You” is set in a futuristic world where people have “chips” recording everything they see or hear implanted in their brains. They can then review all their lives in their head or in a screen. Privacy does not exist anymore because everything is on tape. In this story, we follow Liam, a man who suspects his wife of cheating on him. This episode portraits the desperate need of human kind to know the truth, even if it will destroy him. The story-line becomes even more awful when Liam learns that he isn’t the father of his child. In this futuristic world, privacy is not possible and everything is known leading to violence. A world like this one could not work because people would ruin their lives by focusing on the negative memories. It would be wiser to focus on the happier ones, but the viewer will ask himself if that is even possible.
The episode “Be right Back” tells the story of Martha who loses her boyfriend in a car crash. As she realises she can’t live without him, she learns about a new technology making robots with the ability of imitating loved ones. The Robot will find every information on internet and on social media to reflect the deceased. How can Martha move on while living in the past with the imitation of her boyfriend? This new technology would mess people’s mind as death would be seen differently. This episode gives a good explanation of what is a human being. Martha’s robot boyfriend looks like him, has sexual intercourse like him, makes the same jokes. But he just isn’t him. The watcher will ask himself what really characterises him. What really characterises a human?
And what about social media? An episode had to be dedicated to the superficiality that social media creates. In the episode “Nosedive” set in an alternative reality, people can rate one another. These ratings will influence one’s popularity which will impact his/her entire life as a good rating will give you better opportunities. This is the story of Lacie, a woman obsessed with her rating. She will live a terrible popularity fall that will never stop. A Perfect reflection of our modern society obsessed with social media and what people think of you. It is easy to understand where the show runner took his inspiration: from a world where people are involving in social networks like a crucial need for life, and spending most of their time on it more than spending time with friends and families in real life.