Svart Spegel: Depth of the Black Mirror

It’s beyond safe to make this statement: Nearly every human being on this planet owns a personal mobile device; a black mirror. We’re fixated…ensnared like a fictional cobra’s dizzy-eyed hypnotism. Interesting factoid: Earth’s atmosphere is comprised of Nitrogen and Oxygen. But, did you know that when organisms pass away, the bodies decompose into the fertile, rich land—creating nitrogen in the soil and even in the vast, cerulean blue that makes up 75% of our globe. Plants are able to utilize this process and power life itself. Humans, animals—we learn to crawl, talk, walk, run, sprint, walk again, slowly strafe, slow our breathing—then rest our eyes after seeing and experiencing a good life; a personal history that could fill countless novels.

As we come and go, the seemingly countless black mirrors scattered across every inch of our planet continue on. Newer, faster versions are created every year—unlocking a limitless amount of information, automation—even redefining what convenience and “one sechere you go” means. Are we headed towards a Skynet takeover? Well, yes, in part. Only a small part. It’s much more than an artificial paradigm shift. It’s about the journey towards arriving there—and humanity is the centerpiece; the protagonists.

Charlie Brooker has created and curated a not-too-distant glimpse at where technology could one day, realistically, be. We all hold the all-knowing Doc Brown and young, exuberant, multi-faceted Marty McFly in dear regard, but that vision was even was undersold by a few miles. The future will be brighter, far more advanced, far more spectacular—with a Blade Runner wildcard factor: If we continue to progress towards AI dependency, it’ll be our downfall.

Is it laziness? Sure, I like using the remote, too. Is it scientific exploration? Thank you, Mr. Kubrick. Is it a lift hill on a futuristic roller coaster—once reaching the apex—will come rocketing down towards the ground at breakneck speed? Stay tuned you theme park junkies you.

In the fourth season of Black Mirror, a few, albeit, “disparate episodes” exist that delve further into the soul and mind than other entries. I like to think of Charlie’s Brooker’s structure as a flawless symphony. You have bridge compositions that ease the mind into a trance, before the big numbers etch their way into our hearts—slightly altering how we process the world around us; our life. A spiritual cleanse. The beauty and power of art.

The National Anthem plays with the sickness social media has plagued across each one of our devices. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook all hold the power—with the strength in numbers—to move mountains, figuratively—or perhaps, literally? What seems like an internal country crisis (dear Princess Savannah being captured and ransomed), morphs into a global, social phenomenon. This notoriety causes one of the highest, most prominent figures in the world—and the UK—to (yes, let’s say it together) “give it to a swine from behind. Brilliant, humorous, but such depth in the message.

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Entire History of You is a dangerous, raw exploration into each moment of our lives being digitally preserved and available 24/7 for near-instantaneous playback. A super-powered DirecTV Genie with an infinite SSD. Would 911 have been prevented if security and world police agencies could see every single moment in our lives before boarding any plane? Would crime as a whole be lowered? Or—even deeper down the rabbit hole we go: The truth is twisted behind your back, until one day you subtly take notice to nuances that seem off with a significant other, close family member—whomever. You obsess—like playing a dark-caped detective. Replaying through things with “this person” until your suspicions drive you mad. Every time you approach this person, they make you feel like you’re unjustifiably accusing them, so you briefly give up. But you can’t let it go. Something is there, scratching the inside of your mind. Then one day you unearth the evidence and reveal the lie. You weren’t going crazy. This person made you feel awful for accusing them, but, in fact—you were right the entire time. I don’t know about you guys but this makes me shake with fear.

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Be Right Back toys with the stretched, dry tear-ducted-emotion of losing someone insanely close to you. IF…technology allowed for a recreation of this loved one—based on their “social posting personality” and interactions via email, would this appease us—or hold our natural grieving process in a wretched circle of hell. We’ll never truly forget our parents or god-forbid a spouse passing too early, but we do have to move on to an extent. If not, we’ll ironically trap ourselves in a hell matrix.

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USS Callister reminds us that bullying is bad, and creates a path towards suicide—or possibly worse, a stealthy, grotesque psychopath. Technology as a whole is utilized best here, in my humble opinion. Not only is this a standout episode to get all your nerdy fanboy friends into, but this disparate installment plays with Star Trek themes without ripping out Star Trek itself. It’s far too smart for that move. The notion of transforming a life of fandom to that of a toxic villain is powerful and all too true example in a world of comic book film adaptions. Don’t forget: Evil, maniacal men can wear the “good guy’s uniform” in a gold statue worthy performance.

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Hang the DJ is all about the advancement of technical algorithms and how this now contributes toward two people meeting, falling in love, and defying traditional norms and expectations.  We’ve all had flings that we knew from the beginning would someday fall apart. For Frank and Amy, they knew from the get-go that it was each other or nothing; no living. A pure romantic entanglement, that for one hour defies the Black Mirror DNA. It’s a stroke of genius. A flair for the dramatic; a love story that “hits home” to each one of our lives. For me, Hang the DJ rounded the bases multiple times. A dating app isn’t just an app. It’s a simulation within itself where 99.8% of our digital replications choose one another nearly every time. Thus, when the real world us meet, the app’s digitized versions of ourselves have done their job; have made the sacrifice so the real could be together. This episode is designed around one arching theme: To cheer for true love. No cheesy popcorn here. I mean it. We may have ever-changing, ever-expanding technology, but that doesn’t change the chemistry and power of the deepest human connection: love. Or does it?

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If you find yourself not agreeing with my assessments and positioning, then you’ve missed the point entirely. This is a love letter to a beautiful schematic that holds its own against all other comers. We’re stuck within a sack of non-original creativity—for the most part—so when unique, original creative ideas come to fruition, it’s truly art, and why we write, play music, paint, dance—or do what we do.