Black Mirror often looks at parallel universes. In these realities, technology’s dark side comes out, sometimes in events that are similar to ones that have happened in our world. Creator Charlie Brooker clearly made the show for this generation. When future generations watch it, the issues the show covers will seem stupid and unfathomable. But anyone alive now can relate. The newest season of Black Mirror shows not only how technology can help connect people, but also how it can destroy them.
Let’s Get It On
The first episode centers on an ordinary family with an ordinary life. The husband, played by Anthony Mackie (otherwise known as The Falcon from The Avengers movies) seems bored and frustrated. He isn’t very interested in getting his wife pregnant again. Suddenly, his old friend and roommate returns to his life and gives him a new VR game that resembles Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. This game changes his life in a way that no one would ever expect. He comes to question his sexuality in a way that a fighting game would normally never initiate. This ends up graphically showing how people can open up a lot more online.
Being on the Internet gives you a chance to explore other sides of your personality. You can say things to people in private and they won’t even know what you look like. These circumstances can make people more adventurous and explorations. This episode, surprisingly, doesn’t condemn Mackie’s character for his outrageous behavior. It shows the positive effects of technology and how it authentically connects people, which is rare for Black Mirror.
Breaking News: Social Media is Evil
The second episode has the driver of an ordinary rideshare app kidnap an employee from a certain company against which he has a vendetta. His car then breaks down, leading to a standoff with authorities. This episode has multiple references to privacy and the extent companies go to protect it (or not), which has been a hot issue recently. For example, the company in the episode knows more about the driver than the police do. The police have to go to his house and talk to his neighbors while the company has far more information on the computer in nearly a second. A billionaire CEO, played by Topher Grace, invokes “God Mode” and has the entire world at his fingertips. It’s a damning but kind-of obvious indictment of social media, one of Black Mirror’s favorite themes.
Is She Gonna Fit In?
The final episode of the season was my least favorite by far. It starts with an ordinary girl who shares a room with her sister. Their dad is an absent-minded single father who gives little care to the girls and is focused on his work with mousetraps. The girl is really into this one popstar, Ashley O, played by the always-annoying Miley Cyrus. The first 30 minutes of the episode don’t even have anything worth watching. In fact, the entire episode was incredibly boring. Eventually the girl gets this talking robot that has the exact personality of the popstar. I thought the robot had a secret vendetta and was going to turn evil, but none of that happened and there wasn’t a moment worth watching in the entire episode.
Two of the three episodes in the new season of Black Mirror have good character development and plot twists, they keep the audience on the edge of their seat. However, the third episode was so terribly boring and clichéd that it made me want to throw something at the TV. It seemed like it was written from the perspective of older people, because how the kids in that show see technology is not at all how I or any of my peers see technology.
Black Mirror almost is The Twilight Zone for teens and young adults. Younger people don’t know a life without technology, so the show can really pull on that. When Black Mirror presents its audience with aspects of the darker side of technology, such as invasion of privacy or exploitation of workers, it feels real, because we live it every day. Sometimes the show takes a more fun approach, such as with their hilarious Star Trek parody, but other times it can be darker, with a huge twist that leaves you dumbstruck for the next day. Whether it be evil robots, virtual reality going wrong, or time travel, every episode of Black Mirror shows in some way how technology is the cause of, well…everything.
The show tries to show that technology can be evil and twisted, but a point that they don’t emphasize is that while individuals may use technology for evil, actual technology itself is not inherently bad. It seems as if Black Mirror is inherently always trying to blame everything on technology, like it’s the cause of everyone’s problems.
Technology can do a lot more to benefit people than it can harm them, but the show hardly touches on that, usually opting to show the negatives. Maybe someone should create an anthology show about the awesome side of social media and Big Tech. I’m sure Facebook would love to sponsor that.