August 13, 2017 by What Is A Name After All?
Whenever someone asks for suggestions of TV-shows, my answer is always Black Mirror. It is intelligent, thought-provoking and it addresses modern anxieties such as the relationship between humans and technology, the social media phenomenon, the evolution of ethics, individualism and selfishness… Each episode is completely independent from the others, with a different storyline, different characters and even a different “world” (or rather, a different configuration of our world) and the only cohesive element is an extremely disillusioned attitude and dystopian setting. On each episode, we are transported to a possible future in which we see the consequences of behaviours of our contemporary world.
I highly recommend this TV-show because it brings to life some of our concerns about the way we are evolving by creating a realistic scenario of how the future can look like if we continue to act the way that we do. But first, a word of caution: it is always unsettling and sometimes highly disturbing. It mustn’t be binge-watched, in fact, I highly recommend really spacing out the episodes and never watching an episode while anxious or down. Most of the episodes have caused anxiety and one or two even panic attacks.
Now, while it may be sounding over dramatic to be this affected by a mere TV-show, Black Mirror depicts the darkest, most selfish side of the human being and shows us some not so unlikely scenarios we may end up in. In some cases, I honestly think we are already there. There is no hero in Black Mirror, no uninterested selflessness – even a seemingly good action is motivated by a darker reason, by narcisism, by self-interest. The human kind is inherently bad or at least it has deteriorated beyond redemption.
It is undeniably and unmistakably pessimistic TV-show and the immediate reaction to it may be to drop our arms and think that everything is hopeless. Generally, I try to keep away from this kind of pessimistic and defeatist attitude – we have power and being defeatist is just an excuse to not act and continue to act accordingly to the norm.
But I wouldn’t classify Black Mirror as defeatist. Every episode imagines a future or a hypothetical scenario that is a consequence of a current vice. To see the future causes anxiety because we see how they are dystopias, we recognize how they are possible evolutions of our societies and we recognize ourselves in those characters. But to see the future is not to be predestined, on the contrary, by presenting an undesirable future it seems like the TV-show is inviting us to do something about it.
Black Mirror is powerful because we recognize ourselves in it – the characters are not aliens in a far away planet, they are human beings just like us living on Earth. Their characteristics are bizarre but not foreign – we are a little bit like that, except we see it taken a lot further. We see the possibility of Humanity evolving in such a way that we lose characteristics we thought were inherent to Humanity itself – spontaneity, feelings, compassion.
We know that we do not want to end up in any of the futures that Black Mirror proposes and therefore we start seeing how some aspects of our modern way of living are false truths and contribute nothing to happiness nor to the growth of Humanity. I read somewhere that if Black Mirror was done channelling positivity, it had potential to change the world. And I agree that if we are being defeatist we aren’t changing anything, but Black Mirror is powerful because it is so negative. Someone who watches the show can no longer continue the illusion that everything is progressing in the right way and that no action needs to be taken.