Daily Recco, June 10: Black Mirror, if you're up for the chills
Black Mirror on Netflix underlines the concept that technology itself is not harmful to humans, but everything depends on how humans choose to interact with it.
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The idea of breaking into a cold sweat may seem like a joke in the middle of a truly blazing Indian summer. But there is one web series that could deliver that for you. Black Mirror is an anthology of stories that serve not just as a warning to what technology could actually do to us, but also a peek into how the world might actually look a few years from now.
Some of the stories on Black Mirror are of the horror genre; not the kind of horror where ghosts and monsters jump out screaming loudly. This is the horror of human behaviour. This is what can send you into a cold sweat because in one story or another, you will identify yourself in the character struggling on the screen with the effects of technology.
Each story on Black Mirror deals with one aspect of how technology can influence humans. Some of the stories deal with existing things while others are an extrapolation of what technological changes could happen soon.
The beauty of Black Mirror is that it is not anti-technology. It is at times a celebration and at others a singeing critique. It underlines the concept that technology itself is not harmful to humans, but everything depends on how humans choose to interact with it. (Nothing inherently evil with learning to control nuclear fission reactions, but patently evil to put it in a bomb and drop it on people, for example.)
To take one example, one of the episodes envisions a world where the worth of an individual is gauged by the ratings given to them by each individual they come across. This rating is then used to include or exclude them from various social structures. The beauty of this storyline and its making lies because it shows us how the world would look if everyone was judged by how many likes they could get on social media. If this does not chill you while watching it, consider the fact that China has already implemented a system of social stratification based on a score assigned to each individual, whose behaviour is monitored using fact-tracking technology.
Each episode is a tour de force in storytelling, and the anthology as a whole defies closeting into any one genre. Depending on your own interpretation and perspective, it may be simple sci-fi or dystopian or just outright horror. Undoubtedly one of the achievements of the last decade in filmmaking, Black Mirror is definitely worth a watch on Netflix.