‘Reflecting’ on Black Mirror

Vince Vena

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In the last few days of 2017, the Netflix series Black Mirror released six new episodes as a part of their fourth season.

In the past year, the show gained a good amount of popularity, but there seems to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding the concept of the show.

The title ¨Black Mirror¨ refers to the reflective black screen of TVs, smartphones, computers monitors, etc. The ¨mirror¨ idea is that the technology created is a reflection of the desires and actions of people in society.  

Black Mirror is often compared to TV series like The Twilight Zone due to each episode containing a completely different plot, characters and even different time periods in which they take place.

Although in Black Mirror, the key difference is that there are certain themes that remain throughout the entire series, connecting the episodes together.

Each episode deals with the themes of ethics, morals, insecurities and flaws, relationships and above all — humanity. The show presents thought-provoking scenarios that often question, as a society, what people should have control over.

Black Mirror suggests that it is people’s own insecurities and faults that allow the corruption to manifest and that technology is only the means for carrying out the thoughts and desires of the characters in the show.

For example, in the episode ¨Hated in the Nation,¨ an epidemic of deaths occur all across the UK when an unknown hacker hacked into robotic bees, and any Twitter user who tweets the¨#DeathTo¨ hashtag to another person has the ability to have them killed in real life by a swarm of these robotic bees.

The robotic bees were created to replace real bees due to their extinction so that the ecosystem is balanced and what they produce is necessary to humans.

However, the fact that these were able to be hacked into and that using a social media hashtag to end the lives of others is a result of individual choices and human apathy.

It is easy to misinterpret the main purpose of Black Mirror by summing up that all the episodes come to the same conclusion that technology is bad.

However, that would not be a very deep or profound message to make 19 episodes that are each about an hour long out of. Rather, the show serves as a warning to the potential dangers that could occur if technology is misused.

The show could have easily been one continuous storyline about a character in a dystopian world that predicts how technology in western society will advance in the far future.

Instead it channels novels like 1984 and Brave New World which are significant and truly effective because they do not predict the future, rather they show what could happen.

Black Mirror is not about technology. It’s about humans and human choices.