Black Mirror, but not as black as it used to be

A few months ago I briefly discussed with a colleague the changes brought about in Black Mirror during the transition some years ago from Channel 4 to Netflix. I argued that, while some episodes lived up to the quality of the Channel 4-produced seasons and to the expectations of the fans (San Junipero, for instance), a general mutation of the series created by Charlie Brooker could be generally noticed. He was instead happy with Netflix since the change meant more money for production and all that a higher budget involves – that was a step-up for Black Mirror, in his opinion. Although I was not totally convinced, it seemed a sensible opinion (expressed by a person who would have been a perfect fit for a Black Mirror episode, by the way). Now, having just watched the fifth season, I beg to differ again.

Let us consider Striking Vipers. One can see from the beginning where the story leads: a bored husband, Danny, meets his old best friend, Karl, who is still dating young girls, living in the city and acting cool and young, and gets from him a VR fighting videogame. After the first fight, they end up having a sort of hyperrealistic VR affair and daily virtual sexual intercourses, setting the conditions for a crisis in Danny’s marriage. Utterly predictable, and the final compromise is not really the dramatic plot twist one could expect. Everything perfectly linear – too linear.

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Is Black Mirror already happening?

A couple of days ago I finished watching the third season of Black Mirror on Netflix. I must say that it was pretty good, but, perhaps not as good (and, sometimes, frightening) as the previous seasons. However, as I already experienced with the episodes produced by Channel 4, I sometimes got the sense that what I was watching on my screen was not just a bleak premonition of the near future or, just as many viewers, commentators and even Charlie Brooker itself put it, the logical outcome of the current technological and social developments led to the extreme, but that it was also something that already happened or that is happening right now. Continue reading “Is Black Mirror already happening?”