“Black Mirror” by mezclaconfusa is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The famous dystopian, mind-bending Netflix original series, Black Mirror, was released in 2011 by director Charlie Brooker. A series of independent stories, mainly centered around technology, futurism and human nature, which deliberately offers a dark, satirical criticism to the social commentary. From the release date until 2019, each episode was plotted with diverse themes around society, technology, futurism and love which narrated the ongoing events around us. The choice of content, mysteriosity of outcomes directly related to our current genre tide which makes the series more interesting and relatable for the audience. Relevantly, the use of violent, sexual and cursing scenes were potentially used to spread provocative messages to audiences about the nature of human behavior. In addition, this thesis is going to articulate the demonstration on how Black Mirror is so alluring that it triggers a provatice perspective to the audience to view a dark reflection on modern society, which they might not be able to concede in conventional perspective. With this in mind, this mind-bending anthology series has rooted in many audience’s favorites, impacting the social world as well as the popularity in television format.
Black Mirror & Its Relationship with the Internet
First of all, what is Black Mirror really about? There were different perspectives and interpretations throughout the production timeline but most importantly, people mainly found social correspondence from the story creation. The most well-known theme in the series would be the reference to social media and futuristic technological concepts. The ongoing negative pursuit of technological advancement were emphasized by highlighting the affects the character experience or an unhappy ending. Talking about technological advancement, the content of the series Nosedive (2016) in season 3 episode 1 relevantly indicates its status to the internet community with a dark but accurate interpretation of social media. In relation to the internet, it is directly relevant to social media use with the setting focuses on a society where everything is perfect and based on one’s ranking. The plot of this series was set on a rating mobile device and the main character tried everything to raise her numbers and be among those with high 4 rankings. With the storyline of Nosedive relevantly distribute the “content contemporary digital systems and networks complexities” as well as criticizing the obsession with “social media, and cross-‐‑platform activities which necessitate right methods to address the issues and challenges on modern social platforms” (Picard, 2017, p.5). To emphasize, the scene in Nosedive is dedicated to articulating the concept of dystopian fiction and acute social satire with the use of plot, storyline and languages.
Black Mirror | Nosedive Featurette [HD] | Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R32qWdOWrTo&ab_channel=Netflix
Moreover, Nosedive addresses the internet “as being a different world to the ‘old media’ of publishing and broadcasting” by the newly invented ‘rating device’ as daily uses (Flew et al., 2019, p.37). To emphasize, with the content of technological advancement, it decoded “the complexities and difficulties of media tradition forms and regulation in digital platforms” by introducing the potential of the new technology and social media trends (Flew et al., 2019, p.35). In other words, this episode can be seen as an interpretation of the representation of media, technology advancement but also criticism on class issues, and excessive obsession with creating a perfect image on social media and social status. Additionally, the excessive desire for clout and fame were implemented with the behavior of the main character and directly reflect on the modern social media world. With this in mind, Nosedive could be one of the most representative series in Black Mirror that emphasizes the development of social media, the internet and clout.
History & Initial Content of Black Mirror
Throughout the whole series, the genre and interactive narrative can be plotted in different aspects. Different storyline, plot and theme were used to address different perspectives in the society. To start off, the entire history of Black Mirror, originally started with the content of horror, a grim satire of modern society, and our relationship with advanced technology. The initial ideas tend to extend to the field of science and AI, exploring the ‘unknown’ tech future. Moreover, the sense of futurism began to appear since the first episode, The Entire History of You (2011), in addition to the narrative of brand new technology and human psychology. From my perspective, this episode specifically emphasized the rise of technology but most importantly reflected human nature on jealousy and aggression. With this in mind, it carries out another discussion, which is: would technological advancement become a dangerous ‘weapon’ against humans if our human instinct can never be changed? According to Stephen Hawkings (2014), “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Apparently, this query intrigues many scientists and researchers about conflicts between developing artificial intelligence or maintaining the same inventions since AI technologies might be the invention of the end of humans.
Taking season one as an example, episode The Entire History of You (2011) significantly emphasizes a new form of technology and implicates the danger it might cause for the future. To emphasize, the whole concept was to show how powerful human beings have become and the rapid changes in the world. Since human nature will not be changed, the content of the setting were set on addressing out instincts of insecurity and jealousy can never be vanished and it will always dictate our lives, “in spite of living in unparalleled prosperity and power” (Banerjee, 2018). With the content addressed in this episode, the storyline began in the aspect of technology presentation and the areas of technology improvement. By emphasizing the advance technology, it abstract human behavior and reactions with character dialogues and emotions. Whilst in the human nature perspective, the advancement of technology began to evolve into our lives more frequently and began to make a huge impact on individuals.
Most Powerful Moment In Black Mirror: The Entire History Of You. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNYzbHeRLkg&ab_channel=BrainPilot
Power relations , Audience Manipulation and Psychology
Talking about its power relations, Black Mirror continuously developed dark, deep meaning characters and content throughout the series. Most importantly, how it reflects on our society and gives a strong impact on the audience as well as the society. The plotline directly indicated “ the impact of the society of the spectacle in social communication” (Lopes, 2018, p.87) and most importantly “a social relation between people that is mediated by images” (Debord, 1994). With this in mind, the ‘spectacle’ managed to explain various phenomena relating to the society. The abstract of social appearances, social class, essential society nature, were rapidly recognized throughout the series which remarkably affirm the characteristics of human society as well as to reveal the dark but reticent side of society. On the other hand, throughout internet communication audiences tended to experience a sense of ‘disturbance mind’ and manipulation by the dark but realistic plot setting in Black Mirror. Exploring different perspectives enhances society’s ‘awful authenticity’ and establishes a ‘communication’ to the audience about awful truth. Therefore, Black Mirror’s impact powerfully spread it among our social media platforms by its sarcasm and conclusive hidden meanings.
To wind up, the famous mind-bending Netflix original series, Black Mirror, illustrates the reflection of society and evokes us to reflect on life. With the effect and impact it has on social platforms and broadcasts, the media content builds a strong communication with audiences with a direct but mind-bending range of mediums. Furthermore, the dominance in futurism, technology and dystopian social experiment is ironically associated with our current trend, which made Black Mirror remarkable. However, the creation of content led us to reflect on our daily lives and in some way noticed the dangers and impacts of the realities of social credit we might have to deal with. With this in mind, in a sociological perspective, Black Mirror might be a guide to solve social issues around the world.
Banerjee, R. (2018). An Entire History of You. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@rheabanerjee15/an-entire-history-of-you-df0dd99c5d4c
Debord, G. (1994). The society of the spectacle. Zone Books.
Elnahla, N. (2020). Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and how Netflix manipulates us, the new gods, Consumption Markets & Culture, 23:5, 506-511. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/epub/10.1080/10253866.2019.1653288?needAccess=true
Flew, T. Martin, F. & Suzor, N. (2019) Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal of Digital Media & Policy, 10(1), 33–50. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.1386/jdmp.10.1.33_1
Lopes, J. (2018).Is there any way out? Black Mirror as a critical dystopia of the society of the spectacle [PDF file]. FACULDADE DE LETRAS DA UNIVERSIDADE DO PORTO – CETAPS. 3(7). 85-94. Retrieved from Is there any way out? Black Mirror as a critical dystopia of the …https://ojs.letras.up.pt › article › download.
Picard, R. G., & Pickard, V. (2017a). Essential Principles for Contemporary Media and Communications Policymaking. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: University of Oxford. Retrieved from https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/our-research/essential-principles-contemporary-media-and-communications-policymaking