Season three of “Black Mirror” debuts on Netflix
By Jacob Grosan, Staff Writer
Recently, Apple unveiled the newest iteration of their MacBook Pro. It was faster, thinner and more refined than any previous generation. Loyal Apple customers were quick to take to social media to rave about the new features.
After all, new technology is always a good thing, right? There’s no question that Americans love their cell phones; Informate Mobile Intelligence estimated in 2015 that the average American spends 4.7 hours per day using their phones. From the excitement around new product releases, to the success of science fiction franchises such as “Back to the Future” or “Star Wars,” there’s no shortage of enthusiasm for technological advancement.
“Black Mirror,” on the other hand, hesitates to paint such a pretty picture of the future. While it had its humble beginnings on the Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, the show has since moved on to Netflix, with a much higher budget. For the last two seasons the show earned its reputation for showing the darker side of technology, namely its social impact. When the writers look at a video streaming site, they don’t see it as a great way to share interesting content; they see a platform for terrorists to gain publicity. When new virtual reality technologies are released, they aren’t excited to explore new worlds; they see it as a tool to inflict once impossible forms of torture. When discussing “Black Mirror” it is almost impossible not to mention the television series “The Twilight Zone.” Both are anthology series that often feature a twist ending, but more vitally they capture the contemporary fears of society. As Rod Serling presented harrowing tales about the fears of the 1960s (nuclear war, communism and space travel), “Black Mirror” captures the fears of the 21st century, ranging from the pitfalls of social media, to virtual reality implants, and even a computer generated afterlife. While the producers do a great job of implementing modern technology in creative ways, what makes the show so compelling is that it forces viewers to reflect on themselves.
The premiere episode of the third season, “Nosedive,” shows a world where citizens receive a rating out of five stars for every interaction they have and post they make on social media. People that have high ratings are abnormally positive and polite, but also get access to the best neighborhoods and career options, while everyone with a lower rating is sorted into poorer neighborhoods and lower paying jobs.
At first, the concept of being rated on a constant basis seems incredulous, but how often do people compare themselves to others on Facebook? Although the episode uses technology that hasn’t been implemented yet (a neural implant that allows people to see others’ ratings in real time) the idea of people seeking affirmation on social media is very real in the present.
It’s the concepts like these, the ones that “hit too close to home” that makes “Black Mirror” both hard to watch and deserving of recognition. While many of the episodes express ideas that at the very least uncomfortable (and in some cases truly haunting), it is a testament to the producers’ ability to evoke a response from the audience. All episodes of Season 3 of “Black Mirror” are currently available for streaming on Netflix.