Is Black Mirror trying to scare or to scar?
So I have finally gone through the entire available third season of Black Mirror. It’s been a sad journey. No, strike that, the damn thing got me downright depressed.
I mean it. Sad. Not bad. High quality show, nothing to say here. It’s just that, damn, after the never ending list of happy endings we get the never ending abyss of depressing wrap-ups.
I get it. They mean to prevent, or to instil, a certain circumspect attitude towards the all too touted miracles of technology. But instead they make the audience feel as if the “mere” human is completely helpless.
In Black Mirror there is never any real choice for the characters of the show, and that cancels any kind of moral message they might attempt on the audience.
The soldier, lied to. The game tester, lied to. The pics kid, lied to. The twitter horde, lied to. The social addict, lied to. Probably San Junipero is the most fair episode towards the audience, but even in that one, the character is being lied to by itself, as all lovers end up being.
Indeed, the show makes a point of the lying by being very forward about it. Laconic documents signed, ignorant decisions, rushed life changes, you name it, it is all about pointing to an obvious deceit, yes, as if technology is a lubricant for our impossible wishes.
And boy, is that a good intent, a worthy aspiration, to tame the haste of letting bits and wires invade our pores. Yet, to whom is the show speaking?
Don’t we know? We, the ones who like and praise the show so much, we already know. We know all that. The entertainment that ensues from the confirmation of our expectation only gapes our defences for the long and terrible list of depressing endings. And this is where the show is weird and tiresome.
We’ve all got fed up with happy endings, I get it. But, folks, the antidote to happy endings are realistic conclusions, not depressive wrap-ups. Will we learn by being scarred? Does anyone? Won’t this whole initial idea of warning on the dangers of technology, be just lost on the audience being to busy finding some dopamine generator for their cortisol and serotonin flooded brains?
I mean, I want to scroll that Facebook feed into oblivion after a Black Mirror shot. Who is Black Mirror trying to scare? The mind out of us? Do script writers that take on the cape of social workers ever think it is actually possible to simply swap one manipulation with another?
In season three there is no single episode without a wrap-up. A wrap-up is not an epilogue, nor a conclusion, or a satisfactory falling into meaning of the plot. No, as the name says, it is simply wrapping up the show with the gloom and doom of helplessness and fatalism. It is the final acetylcholine forced sip to completely counter any trace of adrenaline that would make anyone even glimmer at the idea that there is actually a way out.
People zone out because life itself has become utterly boring. The population with internet access would do just about anything to build a separate escape world where their escapism can take them, and they have good reason to do it: the world makes very little sense these days. We sink into our fantasy alternate universes to shed some of the information overload, some of the constant sexual arousal, some of this insane montagne russe of expectations fed into our personalities by boundless media and connectivity.
How does a depressing, categorical and ivory tower shielded show ever gonna help us? I personally fear that most of the people at risk of being technologically disenfranchised, like the soldier with the implant, will neither watch, nor grasp the show.
I am also a bit mad.
It’s like, really they have all the answers, don’t they? Ah, these commoners, how gullible and foolish they are, tweeting bad hashtags, accepting stuff pinned into their cortex, wishing social acceptance so fiercely. But wait! That commoner is me!
My titanium clipping left behind by my long removed sick gallbladder is your sinister device of tomorrow infesting my existence. Do you think the technological doom of humanity will come through bee replacements and army visors? I believe it will insidiously appear one transistor at a time, one RFID antenna at a time, at all times luring our most humane intimacy: the doom of our incoming very personal and individual death.
And to that threat, the soul decomposing depression and the helplessness it brings, is a poor punch. We won’t even see the end of round one.