The newest season of Netflix’s critically acclaimed “Black Mirror” was deep and haunting, raising many questions
What exactly is a black mirror?
According to Urban Dictionary, it’s “the reflection of an unlit computer screen after it is accidentally or unwillingly shutdown while you’re in front of it, giving you a chance to rethink your life as you see yourself.” This is almost exactly the feeling I have every time I watch an episode of “Black Mirror” and I am forced to ponder what I truly believe about my existence as a human.
After four critically acclaimed seasons and an interactive film, fans restlessly awaited the fifth season. Although it was only three episodes, it did not disappoint.
The first episode seems to be about friends growing up and going through life quickly, but it rapidly turns into a virtual reality nightmare when they enter the world of their favorite video game. Inserting themselves into the game world forces them to wonder things about themselves and who they are in the real world that they would have never even imagined before.
As virtual reality becomes more and more popular, we are developing the ability to create new and alternate realities. Essentially, we have the capability to entirely reinvent ourselves. This prospect forces a very interesting thought: who am I really and do I want or need a better version of myself?
Without directly posing a question, the first episode immediately forces viewers to wonder what they would be like if they could be a different version of themselves. To go even deeper, we begin to wonder why we don’t simply become that version in the real world if it is something we want so bad?
The second episode examines an even bigger societal problem: the incorrect use and overuse of social media. With a giant tech company ruining his life, the main character of this episode tries to take matters into his own hands, though not in the most appropriate way.
In today’s big tech dominated world, with companies like Apple and Google controlling our lives, it’s hard not to understand where the character is coming from. Although the episode is initially confusing, in the end, we come to find the man is dealing with his own remorse because he is the reason his fiancée died after getting into a car accident while looking at his social media on his phone.
I’m almost tempted to rationalize his position because he is partially right, social media is the cause of so many issues we have today. Feelings are hurt, car accidents are caused, and lives are ruined because of simple posts on social media.
This episode demonstrated how “Black Mirror” is willing to discuss tough societal issues that most shows would not touch with a ten-foot-pole. The main character blamed social media for his loss instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, a huge flaw of modern society.
Lucy Mangan of The Guardian encapsulated this episode well, writing “like a sweetly sadistic scientist, it delights in shaving off slices of our collective psyche and sliding them under an unforgiving microscope to examine our most current concerns.”
Not only did they tackle the issue, but the execution was flawless. Waiting until the very end to pull all of the pieces together forces the viewer to stay engaged through the entirety of the episode. Furthermore, it ends on an unclear note, leaving the audience to assume the ending they see most fitting.
The final episode features Miley Cyrus as a pop star trying to break free from the constraints of her aunt-manager. Her doll, Ashley Too, is the prized position of a young teenage girl. The doll, programed with “Ashley’s” thoughts, begins to have a mind of its own.
While the episode follows the main character and her sister on a wild journey to end up saving the life of pop-star Ashley, this episode speaks to just how much control we give to technology.
Sophomore business major Jordan Whisler enjoyed the fifth season of “Black Mirror,” one of his favorite shows. He said the episodes “made me question the morality of possible future technology.” They force the question: do we give technology too much power over our lives?
What I find most amazing about the show is how there is no sacrifice in storytelling while they tackle such hard messages. Every detail of this show matters and you have to pay attention if you want to understand them all. Simply put, this is not the kind of show you can put on in the background while doing other work.
Ben Travers of Indie Wire said the show “acknowledges the twisted future we’re already living in by focusing on its effect on people,” and “doesn’t even bother conjuring an alternate reality or futuristic setting — everything that happens is already happening.”
This is arguably the best and worst part of the show. When the episode ends, you are left with a black mirror and you realize the show portrays nothing other than our reality, making the show itself the most horrifying black mirror of all.