Black Mirror is a brilliant anthology of stories produced by BBC. The first episode is not worth the time in my opinion (is simply a mild and overall ineffective critique of Twitter culture, and nowhere nearly as intelligent in its construction and analysis of society as the other episodes) the second episode is so brilliant I feel slightly embarrassed to say I don’t think I should write anything on it lest I tarnish such a great work. Art in its finest doesn’t need to be deconstructed and its genius can be understood even to a section of the laymen population – some may be prevented for psychological reasons such as cognitive bias. I’ll simply say that it’s both one of the greatest pieces of dystopian fiction and television I have seen, and its critique of Capitalism, consumerism and how technology in and of itself is not a guarantee of progress in any meaningful sense is one of the better ones I have viewed or read.
The fifth episode of the series is one that is on the lower spectrum of greatness. It is a brilliant piece of writing in the sense of creativity of plot construction alone, but its analysis of society is also something that should be digested by the American people and world. A not-so-distant future where the entertainment, picture capturing craze (conjoined with social media where the pictures are posted) and punishment sicknesses of America have conjoined, people actually have their minds wiped once found guilty to be continually tortured and become the crying dancing monkey for morally self-righteous sadists amusement; taking the stupidity of shows like Cops and Lock Up (at-least that’s what I think it’s called) and taking it to its logical conclusion.
It obviously encapsulates the absurdity and barbarism of the criminal justice system in America. She is physically and mentally incapable of improving, and they punish her by forcing her to be chased by apathetic watchers, unintentional sick satires of themselves. Just as those who do commit heinous deeds (let’s not ignore those who are in jail for doing something that isn’t a concern for the Government in any way whatsoever – while the white-collar crime that’s criminal even in a government that bends over backwards to appease the Capitalists is skyrocketing, but that’s another point entirely and one I’ve made before in various essays) are not given treatment or the conditions to improve their tortured souls and warped psyches but instead are turned into objects of societies collective condemnation and sentenced senselessly to long stents of imprisonment where his freedom is annihilated and society as a general ceases to reach any meaningful solution or sense of enlightenment of our collective problems socially and psychologically. They even have the mentally ill be targets (the man in role theorizes) in this fictitious world just as we further harm the mentally ill in this country whether we recognize their illnesses or not. For her though this is brought to once again its rational end by her being actually incapable of atoning for her crimes (not only in a material sense of improvement and understanding but of merely conscious surrender to authority) by wiping her memory of it and her very identity – just as the prison system does not improve the withered and warped Self but bruises it and forces upon it greater states of decay.
Once we learn this is all a ploy, it may make sense to some that those with phones don’t help her; but the question should still be raised, why are these people not helping but instead passively aiding in some sense the psychological torture of this woman? They really are the phone-zombies they pretend to be. This episode shows how it is those who most adamantly demonize others (e.g. priests, religious conservatives, the rich, the government) who are typically those actually to blame of societies faults both materially and psychologically for programming people to believe in punishment rather than opportunity and rehabilitation and judgment and condemnation rather than compassion.