BLACK MIRROR RETURNS
"Half of the things in the first run of Black Mirror seem to be on the verge of coming true. They've got prisoners in Brazilian prisons pedalling on exercise bikes to reduce their sentences (not entirely dissimilar to the episode 15 Million Merits) and Google Glass looks like copyright infringement as far as The Entire History of You is concerned. Thankfully no-one carried out a hideous form of blackmail involving a pig. Anyway, if the stories from the second run start coming true then we're REALLY in trouble." - Charlie Brooker
Charlie Brooker’s techno-dystopia series Black Mirror returns to telescreens everywhere later this year. As there’s borderline fuck-all decent on TV, it can’t come soon enough. This week, the first episode from the new series was previewed at the BFI followed by a Q&A with Brooker himself. The timing is just right as this week also saw the first Orwell Day, and no writer has ever conjured a finer dystopia than the man who gave us Big Brother.
The first episode of the new series, Be Right Back, imagines a world where a grieving relative can stay in touch with their deceased through a new social network. Martha (Hayley Atwell) has recently lost her husband, Ash, and is signed up to the network by a friend and soon receives an email from "Ash".
After first being scared off by the mail, Martha discovers she is pregnant, so turns to the social network for some comfort, yet soon finds she is consumed by it. It’s this kind of dystopic parable that really hits home, beyond simple satire. Like in 1984, we are able to connect with the issues due to the deep personal sadness and the torturous sense of loss.
In comic satire, the viewer is often like the audience of an observational comedian, laughing along saying ‘it’s sooo true,’ and ‘we do do that,’ rather than questioning behaviour. By giving us these personal tales we should take away their messages of caution and become more self-aware in a positive way.
The mirror being held up to society now is blacker than ever, as ideals of irony and desperation for popularity make people more and more stupid and more easily controlled. A voice like Brooker’s is required to raise questions surrounding how much our digital lives are encroaching on our everyday lives. We’re fast becoming synthetic representations of ourselves, the mannequins in the window.
Without giving too much away the series follows the same pattern as the first with three different stories in three genres all exploring ideas of technology-gone-bad. As with the last series, there will be cautionary elements and satirical ideas. It is more than likely, however, that the large part of the population will simply tweet their OMGs than actually think about what’s being said.
Like Orwell, Charlie Brooker manages to create a world that is at once frightening, yet strangely familiar. There’s the overriding feeling that we could be only a few steps away from these events becoming reality, that the reality presented is only a few degrees askew from our own. We live in a world where the fictions of 1984 have slowly become prophetic, so it only remains to be seen how technology will invade our lives next.