DISCLAIMER- No spoilers alert!
Of all the 3 episodes the latest Black Mirror series showcases, I could come to love only the second one. I started off with the third (blame Miley Cyrus), went to first, and finally took a leap of faith to watch the second episode, since the other two episodes fell almost flat in comparison to what this franchise had delivered in the past. So, I went to second, expecting nothing, but it was the one that hooked me till the end, and got me into thinking for a freaking long time- about something I usually wonder now and then- but this time, it got me into that zone to an extent of making me write it down.
“Smithereens”- the second episode, I’d say, did reach the standards initial episodes of this series had set. One strong reason I love Black Mirror is its (almost) every episode has rendered me with something to think about each time it ends. It never ran like this- one episode ends, jumps right to the next one; there always has been a brief gap between this jump, which was the time for some introspection. This, eventually, I hope the intention of Charlie Brooker, the series’ writer, must have been.
Not that this is the only episode which triggered in me the need of penning the whole thing down. No. There have been a lot of episodes; but, considering the waiting period for season 6 (if it is coming out), I didn’t want to not appreciate something written and presented with such precision and brilliance, and which has made me to think time and again we all, perhaps, should take time out to think about.
This particular episode that I’m talking about is lesser about technological advancement, and more about the rippling effects it has been causing. Mobile- the new-age cancer as some call it- is the central theme in here. The addiction that software applications (Twitter, Instagram and alike) cause, our urge to stay relevant and in the circle, our craving for the figures, how all of this makes us behave in certain situations, the unforeseen circumstances they may have pushed some into is what the story revolves around.
These social platforms, including the trending OTT platforms (Netflix, Amazon prime, Hulu)- they feed on our shortcomings and insecurities. Being a human, it’s not too much of a trouble for them to figure out what it is a human will surrender to. Otherwise, where is their business coming from, have you ever wondered?
Digital detox was never a thing; it is now; and will be much bigger and huge in near future, considering the pace we are moving forward. Statistics, reports, articles- there isn’t a dearth of sources to remind us of that pace… and that future.
I won’t call the underlying central idea of Smithereens a piece of an out-of-the-box work, neither does the story render with something new to think over, but the way it starts, and ends, and the path it takes to reach from that start to end, the effect that whole journey has is something that makes it worth watching this episode. And the whole series, if you ask me.
(In fact, I found it bit ironic writing this article down, and publishing it on several social platforms.)
There always is a subtleness in the episodes of Black Mirror that gives space to its audience for interpretation. Which is another element that makes this series stand out, for me. It doesn’t serve everything on platter. It lets you gain a perspective. There are open endings, details talk. It provides the scope of being creative to its audience.
And while I was writing this, specifically the above last line, I gained my own perspective on the name- Black Mirror. I don’t know what exactly the name implies and why was it chosen (haven’t googled yet), but for me, it says- unlike a plain white mirror, we are shown a black mirror, which gives us the opportunity to look at some of the things vividly, while for the other half, which are not as distinct, we have the liberty to exhaust our means of interpretations and perceptions. Like I said before- not everything is served on platter here.
And the crack- well, in the end, we all are just a cracked version of ourselves. No pun intended.
Not every episode of Black Mirror has come up with a highly technological advancement theme (mostly did and blew my mind!), but the harrowing way humans are dealing/might deal/might have to deal with these advancements is something worthy of one’s interest and time. It is not always about using the most innovative or a fresh idea; it is about picking an idea, touching it up and executing in a way that touches the right chord at the right time.
I, for one, have never been a front-row cheerleader of technological advancements, especially AI. Knowing human nature, I couldn’t look at these developments without prejudices. Humans tend to mess things up; they, somehow, just end up doing it. With evolution comes power, and human wouldn’t be the obvious first choice to be handed over this intangible element- power, considering the history between two. (Usually, a human with power goes berserk.) And robots should certainly not even be considered the last choice for handing over the power to.
Enough with I, me and myself. It’s now your turn to pour your views on Smithereens, season-5, Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker, technology, AI, humans, or any other term I may or may not have used above.
Any favourite episodes? Mine would include (in no particular order)- White Christmas, San Junipero, Shut Up and Dance, Playtest, The Entire History of You, White Bear, Crocodile, Smithereens, etc. I probably would include more than half of the episodes’ names in here. Damn! I got back to the I, me and myself. Over to you…
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