People are becoming more aware of their online security than ever before, and watching Black Mirror won’t do anything to slow that.
What is Black Mirror?
Black Mirror is a series which focuses on the threats we face because of new technology. Each episode looks at how technology has made an impact on our lives – usually in a negative way. Black Mirror is great because it carries out this social commentary without you even noticing. Once you step back from the story for a moment, you realise the tale fits into your life somehow.
The series started out on Channel 4 and for a long time was available on 4OD. When Channel 4 opted to discontinue the series, Netflix saw the potential it had. Black Mirror was commissioned for another two six-episode seasons. Better still, Netflix is also streaming the previous seasons too. This means you can watch the eerily prophetic episode where the British Prime Minister has sexual relations with a pig.
The Netflix era of Black Mirror
With the series returning, we want to give you a quick overview of Black Mirror series three and what the main themes the show covers.
Lacie Pound lives in a world where everything you do leads to you being rated on a social media network. Your rating, out of five stars, dictates who you can hang out with in life and what you job you get. You might not like your coffee, but you still share a picture of you enjoying it to improve your rating.
Seeking a new apartment, Lacie must up her rating to secure the apartment of her dreams. One subtle observation the episode makes is how invasive personalised targeted advertising can be as Lacie leaves the apartment. Still, this is far from the worst parallels the episode makes with reality.
Peeple is an actual iOS app that allows you to rate others using the service. The app is strikingly similar to that seen in the show. Also, we all know someone who lets their food and coffee go cold while their Instagramming it. Nosedive hits home and will likely do the same for you.
Speaking of “hitting home”, the second episode is for the virtual reality and augmented reality fans out there. We follow the main character on his world travels, just before he runs out of money and joins up with a team testing an exclusive new gaming platform for cash. Playtest does make you think a little about how far we will go to achieve the ultimate gaming thrill. Personally, we’d go pretty damn far.
Shut Up and Dance
Probably my favourite episode of the lot and the one that made me change my own opinions on web security. Not too long ago, I had a tongue in cheek look at Mark Zuckerberg taping up his laptop webcam. Right now, my laptop, tablet, and smartphone all have the user-facing cameras covered with a security shield.
Shut Up and Dance follows a boy who’s webcam is hacked by an unknown group. After catching him in some compromising positions, the boy is quickly moved into a group of others in the same boat. With dirty laundry hanging over them, the group must carry out the anonymous group’s bidding to be released from their clutches.
What made this episode great was how simple it was for the boy to be caught out and just how far out of control the situation spiraled. Drama, twists and lots of yelling at the screen followed by you popping a post-it note over your webcam.
The entire way through San Junipero, I just wanted the episode to be over. It was slow, boring and I just couldn’t see where it was going. Then it ended and I was actually pretty impressed by it. San Junipero is one of the more futuristic Black Mirror episodes which might have been why it had been a bit of a slow burner. Also, it’s quite possible that it does suffer somewhat from the other episodes being incredible.
Men Against Fire
San Junipero signaled a shift in the episodes from social commentary on the present towards anxiety of where we’re going. Men Against Fire centers on a military organisation responsible for clearing areas of land filled with zombie-like “roaches”. It’s impossible to discuss this episode spoiler-free, but it’s well worth a watch. Plenty of twists and turns.
Hated in the Nation
Black Mirror absolutely kept the best-till-last. Sure, Shut Up and Dance was my personal favourite but Hated in the Nation is an amazing piece of TV. Themes like social-bullying and just how dangerous “keyboard warriors” can be. Even better is the episode’s portrayal of how the media deals with tragedy, fuelling mass panic to gain ratings. Seriously, the next time you’re watching the news, be conscious of that sentence.
Typically, Black Mirror finished this season by spilling into reality has a #DeathTo hashtag became popular on Twitter. We’re slightly nervous about the fact that we seem to be caught up in the trend too:
— Black Mirror (@blackmirror) November 3, 2016
The really good news is, Netflix have commissioned another six episodes, so watch this space.