34 thoughts on “The Vacant Politics of New Black Mirror | Big Joel

  1. I'm pretty damn late to be mentioning this but Brooker said on The Adam Buxton Podcast that the first 2 seasons were about selecting which of his many ideas where the best to make an episode from and the 3rd and 4th were more about trying to improve the remaining ideas so they equaled the quality of that which came before.

  2. I honestly think 'The Entire History of You' is a bad episode in general. The underlying problem isn't even caused by the technology, his obsessive behavior and being a workaholic, iirc, are what drive the conflict. Regardless of what the technology allowed him to see, he still would've been the same person. The Grain(?) wasn't necessary in a story about infidelity imo.

    What would've been more interesting is if the central conflict emerged from our reliance on, Google, or the internet itself as a way to pawn off actually knowing facts or memorizing important information. Imagine being lost in an unfamiliar part of town without knowing where you live, phone numbers or important identification like a social security number. How would your perception of the world change if you never had to remember anything for yourself?

  3. I think you misunderstood playtest. I believe it was that he died instantly but in that 1 second experienced all that happened in the game, like how time is different in sleep.

  4. Ha, Nosedive is my absolute favorite episode. My thoughts kept turning back to it after the first time, so I watched it again…and again. Each time I get something new out of it.

  5. Thanks, I really enjoyed this video. It provoked a few thoughts I want to share: The episode about the baby monitor implant (sorry, can't remember name) reminded me of a short story I read in an SF magazine about twenty years ago, which used a similar idea, but it was limited to a micro-camera in the kid's forehead, so you can see everything they see in real time. It was quite poignant.

    Re: "Nosedive," I believe it came out at about the same time some people were trying to market in real life an app more or less identical to the one in the episode. The public response was predictable: "What? That's a terrible idea!" So props to the episode for being timely. What made the app in the episode so harmful was that it worked in a qualitatively different way than real life interactions or conventional social media interactions: It allowed you to RATE your interactions, and it AGGREGATED them for everyone to see. So I think that if it were implemented on a large scale, it really would change the way people interact.

    "Playtest" was probably my favorite episode of Black Mirror, but to be fair I haven't actually seen any of the ones you offered as examples of good episodes. I found it to be a really effective bit of psychological horror. With an anthology series, I don't think it's a good thing for every episode to be essentially trying to do the same thing. However, I recognize that the point of your critique was not that variety is bad, but to point to an overall trend toward overly simplistic or even nonsensical handling of idea.

  6. I actually still enjoy black mirror but less for what it’s trying to say about society and more for the way it now feels almost like a horror movie about technology and society. The episodes are definitely more hit or miss now than they used to be, but I particularly enjoyed arkangel and some of the other ones with less of a nuanced message just because they truly made me feel disgusted at the actions of the society that we are presented with in the text. They might not say much anymore, but they present a concept we are supposed to be horrified by and often deliver, which I appreciate when I’m just trying to find some background noise for writing a paper lol.

  7. I think this series is very hit and miss and when it hits it's because you can really relate to the dilemmas the characters are confronted with. I strongly empathised with the over – protective mother in Arkangel and thought I'd have made many of those same dubious choices in her place. But you're right the writing could be tighter. That blocking – out
    – threatening – images gizmo was indeed obviously stupid at first glance.

  8. I think season 3 and 4 do feel different and less satisfying. But I think you still haven’t figured out why

  9. The video game episode message is obviously about using technology to distance yourself from family and reality

  10. Wow. I challenge you to a duel, sir. Pretend I just slapped you with a super effeminate glove

  11. I now this is old and probably already irrellevant. But i think you missed the point of the later seasons. I personally think that the fact that technology is not the point IS the point. The technology does not take centerstage anymore. Its just the setup. I think the message is that – in contrast to what the earlier seasons might suggest – technology is not more evil or dangerous than people are on there one. It just enables them.

  12. I feel like nosedive is kinda like the Chinese Social Credit system. They’re fake because their entire life depends on it

  13. I agree some of the episodes are weaker than others. In Arkangel, for me, the technology being believable wasn't that important. We're asked to suspend disbelief throughout many episodes of the show. We've seen people being censored out of real life before like in the episode where the man is searching so hard to find his daughter and then it turns out it's not his daughter…. I should look up episode titles…. lol

  14. while 1 and 2 have interesting and skeptical views on society, that are clear cut and yes, well written, i personally enjoy seasons 3 and 4 more because they’re more entertaining, which in the end is what a show should be

  15. Playtest:
    People maintain their relationships with loved ones poorer than they maintain their relationship with technology.

    If the social relations in the portrayed society seem delusional, then the current state of our social relations may also be thought of as delusional.

    General discomfort has purpose and consistent convenient comfort may be dangerous.

    Black Museum:
    I have not seen it but after my friend described it to me, my immediate reaction was hatred. But I have not seen it yet.

  16. You watch Black Mirror. You abstract a general rule: "this episode explores the consequences of future technology". You apply the rule to other episodes. It doesn't fit. What's the next step? Dunking on the episodes, or changing the method of interpretation that you thought of yourself? Really disappointed here, Joel.

  17. Agree that these stories don't scratch the same itch as the original seasons, but a few of them scratched a different itch. The VR story was emotionally stimulating (for me at least) and the season finale was a fun little tour of morbid curiosities.

  18. Bold of you to just assume Black museum is about us the audience and not about how corporations exploit people who have no other choice but ok. A bit of a reach in my opinion but whatever floats your boat

  19. personally i enjoyed playtest, specifically because i feel it wasnt trying to make a point but rather tell a compelling story with typical black mirror trademarks, and i feel it succeeded in that. the ending genuinely sent shivers down my spine. its a similar thing to a few other episodes where i think the story arc and character conflict where prioritized, which made for a good viewing experience imo.

  20. The thing is I think the later episodes of black mirror are less focused on technology and our relationship with that, and more focused on our personal wants and desires; nosedive isnt about social media, or even our desire to please others or be a fake person, its about futility in general. Although I think some of the episodes are just fun whimsy.

  21. I am in the slightly odd position of having watched the show backwards; ie season 4 first then 3, 2 & 1. A netflix glitch I think but it did make me like the whole lot better. If you havent seen it yet I suggest watching it that way.

  22. Yeah I don’t think the show’s format is always specifically condemning a specific tech enhancement that will/could destroy the world – but just trends that we need to keep in check.
    Archangel – for instance – is more about the impact of too much censorship and the evolving and complex role of a parent in a modern world not really the specific technology in the episode. Censorship is a bit more relevant in the UK than it is in the US due to differences in freedom of speech protections.

  23. I started watching White Christmas, then seasons 3 and 4 first, an order recommended by YourMovieSucks. Just tonight I finished 1 and 2, and came back to hear this commentary. 👌🏼🐒

    I personally really enjoyed the Netflix half, and I didn't at any point read from it the things Joel did. I did notice the first two seasons were somehow more personal, more focused on the smaller things, less global. I did love the concepts of the last two seasons, and they did made me think a lot about where are we headed in general, and what are we doing right now. The two different vibes are just sides of the same coin, for me. Or, shall I say – at the opposite ends of a mirror? 😀👁

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