Editors note: Spoiler alert.. if you have not seen all episodes of Black Mirror, Season Four, skip this post.
Greetings, everyone. I hope you are enjoying your Sunday. Black Mirror Season 4 has been out for about two weeks now. Needless to say, I love this show. I may, or may not have seen each episode twice. *smile* If you were perusing my timeline the weekend it dropped, I made many references to the series. I did so, carefully without messing it up for those who haven’t seen the show.
Now, but want to talk about it. First off, I want to say that Season four has the most variety of any of the previous seasons. My favorite episodes of the season have to be “Black Museum” and “USS Callister” with a close second.
Black Museum dealt with the issues of digital slavery, the abuse of technology, and the idea of retribution. This episode was about a young woman visiting a museum where every item featured was part of some technologically advanced crime. Rolo Haynes while thought of as an entrepreneur, was himself the criminal, and the museum was a showcase of all of the evidence proving this fact. The most jarring feature of the episode was the warehousing of a digital copy of a man who was executed by the state. Not much separated the character Rolo Haynes from the cruel jailers that we often hear about who torture prisoners.
In thinking about the episode, it brings forth the notion of social death. This is a concept that comes from slavery, and depicts how the lives of the enslaved are not their own. In the book Slavery and Social Death by Orlando Patterson, it is pointed out the number of ways in which the enslaved were not regarded as full human beings. If living, breathing Black people aren’t thought of as fully human, than a digital copy of one of us would be considered as even less.
Extrapolate this into the near future, this episode is particularly savage for two reasons. One, the death penalty still exists, and two, the rights of the disadvantaged are violated even in death. Knowing the nature of American racism, it’s not too far off the notion of some wanting a souvenir commemorating Black suffering and death. Lynching postcards were a thing, after all.
As for USS Callister… wow. Way to make science fiction fanboys look bad. Here, we have a tech geek who is into coerced cosplay, with him as the dictator of his own digital realm. As we see in online forums, people can let the more sinister aspects of their personality emerge when there are no consequences to be suffered. The story reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”
Between this episode and Season 3’s Playtest I think I’m done with online gaming once they stop using controllers to move your character. Getting your consciousness trapped in a video game would not be fun, despite all the achievements you could rack up.
As for the rest of the season, Metalhead was disturbing as well. Talk about unleashing the dogs of war. It was a cross between The Terminator and Kujo. At CES, there was this robot dog called Aibo, but at least he wasn’t carrying a knife.
What episodes resonated with you this season?