Having watched several episodes of Black Mirror recently, I think it’s intriguing to discuss it. It almost doesn’t make sense to talk about Black Mirror as a whole because it consists of non-interrelated episodes, tied together by very inspired production and storytelling of a very talented team of people. Today I mainly want to talk about one episode, which goes by the name Nosedive. Be aware, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen Season 3 Episode 1 of Black Mirror, make sure you do it before reading this.
Visions of the future are a common thing not only within arts, but also science and technology, and — on a more personal level — of course for each individual. Black Mirror has been giving us different scenarios in each episode. This one is kind of spinning forth a vision of an omnipresent social evaluation system that can be thought of as a logical step in development of social media (such as facebook). Bringing together social media and augmented reality could be considered a natural combination, as it’s already the case with games, see e.g. Pokemon Go.
What would have been perceived as an almost unrealistically futuristic scenario years ago, or at least far enough away, is now approaching us in a very apparent or immediate way. I guess you could say that Black Mirror is thinking things through, outlining a specific future scenario that is terrifyingly plausible.
But back to the episode: Social implications are probably the most important part here. We are being confronted with an environment of constant monitoring and self-censorship, which is clearly stressing people out, as indicated on several occasions in this episode. Yet a couple of promising questions arise: How much self-restriction are you willing to take in order to fit in? As in: How much do we all have to ‘shut up’ (or do the opposite)?
Then there are those pastel colors. They soften the overall impression and perhaps leave the viewer with a somewhat numb or anesthetized vision of a dystopia, as a world where UI is omnipresent, where your social score is transparent and publicly accessible. The future looks very watered down and sugary, an image reminiscent of Pleasantville (1998) or even Brave New World — suppressed emotions resulting in a state that is sedated and tense at the same time.
In other words: The future wears a ton of make up. And this is where the development happens: Over time the episode progresses from clean to dirty, from silent to loud, from friendly to angry, gradually making the viewer come back to ‘normal’, or real life, the actual pre-technology default mode — with all its conflicts and raw stuff. My verdict: ★★★★★.