Black Mirror: the Contemporary Dystopia

The Ominous Future

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror builds on a nervous narrative about the contemporary dystopia. It is also about the future of technology by replicating many of the shortcomings of discussion around technology. An ominous future seemed increasingly plausible. However, the series might resist the obvious morality drama like Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone. The moral of the episodes is perhaps a lot less contradictory than it seems at first. However, the program draws much of its emotional baggage by focusing its stories on specific individuals. By doing so, the series can serve as a kind of cognitive tutorial guide. It also serves messages such as “never be the protagonist of the series.”

Black Mirror may invite the audience to look at the future that Brooker draws suspiciously. However, it also encourages the kind of mediocre reception that characterizes people in every episode. The series is trendy yet sleek entertainment. It is part of the contemporary “golden age of television.” It risks being another series that can stream onto the screen like a black mirror. The series is part of the same cultural industry in the modern era, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. It seems that the people of the series slandering society. Despite its disturbing nature, the soft message allows the audience to distance themselves unconsciously or unsure.

The Culture Shock

Black Mirror became the ointment for the technological trajectory of contemporary dystopia and society. However, the series is also a ready-made product for critics to criticize the times. An ointment that accomplishes nothing, a culture shock absorber allows the audience to endure the next shockwave. It is a series that demands the audience to break away from the attachment to a black mirror even while encouraging them to watch other episodes. While that is not to claim that the series has no value, it is not as radical a speech as people might be tempted to praise it. The discomfort that audiences experience while watching the series quickly becomes the redemption of the fetish. It allows the audience to continue on the path to the future that the future outlines. The series provides its antidote but also invites much poison.

In each episode, technology is everywhere and has the same character as humans trying to understand the meaning of specific devices. Examples could be The National Anthem, The Waldo Moment, Hated in the Nation, and Smithereens. In these episodes, the technology that stands out is a technology that is familiar to contemporary audiences, namely social media platforms. Episodes such as The Entire History of You, Be Right Back, San Junipero, and Striking Vipers are examples of how the series showcases are different and new, namely implantable devices that record all human memories and become one in such reality. Such technology can cause temporary amnesia. The stories that Brooker tells in Black Mirror mainly focus on individual stories. There are stories about one person’s grief and the impact of such technology.

The Inhabitants of Black Mirror

It is straightforward to ignore the questions or interpretations when watching Black Mirror. Every episode takes something away from the individual, and such a focus reduces the series’ entertainment quality. With that being the case, it is essential to urge people to ask critical questions. The world that the series depicts in each episode does not just happen. However, it is the result of layers of choices and decisions that ultimately shape the characters’ lives in each episode. Although the audience should question how much, The National Anthem, the first episode of the first season, is one example.

The episode tells the story of a confused prime minister who cannot understand the threats people upload to YouTube, along with the shift in public opinions, such as those on Twitter. It has required him to commit and perform odd acts. His desperation over what he should do represents the new world of politics created by social media. In many ways, it is tempting to treat an episode like San Junipero in return for its unrelenting cult of innovation and distraction. The presence of such a cultural warning does not mean that such a device will also eventually not carry the market. The inhabitants and contemporary of Black Mirror are under a very high level of dystopia and technology current.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Such episodes of Black Mirror audiences can treat as a simple warning that states, “never be a person in the series.” After all, the world in The Entire History of You seems filled with people who, unlike the obsessive main character, can use grain productively use grain. On the same, many people point to Be Right Back and say that cloning can be tremendous. Just do not ever use it to imitate a recently deceased one.

Of course, any criticism of Hated in the Nation‘s social media audience can answer the proliferation of free expression and how the platform can help fuel new protest movements. However, the Black Mirror narrative characters rarely appear as active agents in terms of technology, even when the characters act as players who “pick” specific devices. On the other hand, all of the characters only play the role of consumers, whether when talking about video games, amusement parks, political campaigns, or social media, are people whose psychology is crushed day by day.

The Cultural Products

It is not that there has to be a company logo that the series prominently displays on every “grain.” It is not about a stationary bike or arguing that the people behind such a device should Brooker describe as giggling corporate monsters. However, it would be helpful to have at least images of the people behind such a device. After all, such a device protects everyone in the episode. Black Mirror ignores that other, very human stories lurk in such technology by focusing on small-scale human stories. So what the replication series puts at risk is the technological determinism that seems to have stuck to the way people talk about technology.

There is a sentimental one where people have no other choice but to accept what technology companies sell. A futile resistance it seems that no one considered resistance an option from the start. After all, it is about the shortcut that people have seen in the not too distant past. Such sentiment is not true at all. Metaverse presents a new world of reality that people cannot escape in a specific case. Unfortunately, one of the most effective ways to convince people that they are powerless to fight is to “hit” them using cultural products that tell them they are powerless to resist. Reassure them that assimilation is part of the simulation as well.

Eden

In addition to literature fans filling their bookshelves with cursed stories of the future, the term “dystopia” is very prominent in the modern world of pop culture. So prominent is it that it tends to reach various cinema screens eventually. The apocalyptic vision of the future is infinite on the big screen. To many, the temptation to use “dystopia” when discussing the future that the Black Mirror describes seems a bit misleading. Fifteen Million Merits is an episode that represents a distant dystopian future.

However, using such many other installments seems highly allegorical when talking that Black Mirror is a series about dystopian risks taking an overly simplistic attitude, the technology of the present and the future is entirely dystopian rather than how people explain episodes that are as well orchestrated in the present. Philosophers, professors, and scholars alike can argue that the current state of the world is far from ideal. They can cast sharp eyes and critiques at a platform to the point of genuinely believing that the current trajectory is going in a negative direction.

Allegory

On the other hand, people can believe all these things. They still resist the urge to label postmodern society as an allegory of dystopia. The series shows how dystopia becomes a personal hell in a broad sense. However, Black Mirror also assumes that a slipping utopia is not automatically a dystopia in itself. Prominent critics of the series can emphasize a clear Western focus. For example, Tesla still does not exist in all parts of the world.

Not to mention, it is impossible that everyone will own a Tesla for reasons of finance, status, or class. However, people cannot deny that the whole community uses smartphones. Essentially, the slipping of utopia can still be an outright dystopia for many others. The series also does not care about who assembles such a device. Thus, the threat of dystopia becomes humanity’s continued failure to use its impressive technological ingenuity in realizing Eden.

The False Utopian Era

Black Mirror presents a grim juxtaposition between what humanity can achieve and what they do. Tools that can broaden democratic participation people can use to allow cartoon bears to run as stunt performers, ways that allow people to remember the past can undermine the present by creating a constant replay of human disgrace. The things that allow people to connect can make it impossible to let go, all of which end up just producing commodities outside of consumerism.

In the tragic comics, the series shows that among the commodities that companies continue to produce are those that elevate the reckless acceptance of technology to the level of television series that many audiences laud and watch critically. The picture of the series may be sad, disappointing, and shocking, but it is worth remembering that there are essential differences between the worlds of people living amid a continuing world of reckless and dystopian technology acceptance.

The Acceptance

It does not mean that technology acceptance should always be careless, although changing societal acceptance may require changing individual attitudes towards it. Black Mirror reiterates its hard thrust because it emphasizes attitudes that continuously destroy dystopia and do not highlight contemporary resistance. In Fifteen Million Merits, it features characters who engage in daring acts of rebellion. Such actions immediately the protagonist uses to strengthen the power against the antagonism.

Thus, the episode repeats the “too late” loop. In essence, the series does not suggest that one should focus all of the protagonist’s hopes on utopian ideas or put faith in hopes unrelated to reality. Social order is effortless to create a dystopia, whether large, medium, or small. However, keep in mind that this is a false utopian dream that promises a world where technology will solve all people’s problems. The series started asking the audience: what are the following steps to be taken?

The New Status Quo

In The Entire History of You, the characters enjoy a dinner party. Eventually, the topic of discussion turns to the disadvantages and advantages of memory-recording nerves. Many attitudes are voiced from an individual who cannot imagine doing so without nerves to a woman. The woman has experienced violence and has managed to adjust. Therefore, the episode focuses on an individual’s obsession who cannot cope with the world. The audience can remember everything. The episode shows by the dinner party that the same world contains many people who can handle nerves well.

The Waldo Moment is about the failed comedian who voiced the cartoon bear. He cannot understand why people are drawn to the protagonist’s character. However, that did not stop many people from choosing the animated animal. White Bear is also the most disturbing episode. The protagonist cannot understand why people are following her in the episode. They also record her on their smartphones while the masked assailant is hunting for her. On the other hand, that does not stop those who recorded her from playing an active role. Furthermore, Black Mirror points out that many people are content with the new status quo in the contemporary dystopia.

The Black Mirror

Despite the many criticisms, it is easy to remember how the Black Mirror had the value demonstrated in contemporary dystopia. Therefore, the series becomes a community use other than a series that people sit and watch. It becomes a part of a culture that directs people to ask questions that skip the series. In addition, it is a space where people can discuss their anxieties and fears about technology without worrying. Someone will call them “guinea pigs” just for daring to have such worries. By highlighting unanswered questions, audiences may be able to ask questions that many artists rarely ask about technology today.

Such reflections are only of value if the series forces the audience to rethink their relationship with the black mirror. On the surface, it reflects their present life, which may exist in tomorrow’s life. After all, an individual can look in the mirror to see the dirt on his face. They could look in the mirror as well due to psychological urges. If the series is a comedy, the punchline is watching, creating, and participating. After all, humans waste time staring at black screens non-stop.

Bibliography

About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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