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Thoughts on Black Mirror S5 E2; Smithereens

via Netflix

Spoilers ahead!

The fact the writers chose not to show us the ending of this episode because in real life if the same incident happened we would all clear the notification and go on with our days because there’s nothing we can do as a society we’ve all become extraordinarily desensitized to violence, particularly gun violence, that it’s pretty sickening and people get into car crashes on the regular because they’re selfish assholes who can’t go 20 minutes without looking at their phones?

OH AND, I loved the touch of social media conglomerates and tech industries having instant access to people at the expense of everyone’s privacy – more so than the police.

It’s wild out here. But catch me still telling Alexa to play white noise to lull me to sleep.

Also you know what else, food for thought, something I keep thinking about is that the real-life counterparts of Billy Bauer would never take such a humanistic approach to a hostage situation like this. And I’m not saying they should because it’s fucked up and what Chris did is beyond any level of an acceptable manner of grief (also let’s talk about the entitled straight white guy thing too right?)

But it reminds me of why I avoid Facebook. At the end of the day, Mark Zuckerberg sees us all as numbers on a page and in his bank account. What does he care about how his tech influences the masses so long as he makes his bottom dollar? I mean he’s proven it by the amount of privatized data he’s sold.

I don’t want to sound all “old man yells at clouds,” because technology is amazing and I use it every day. Yet that doesn’t mean the corporations behind it are altruistic. It doesn’t mean we can, or should, be complacent to letting it eat away our minds and I think that tends to be the general moral code of Black Mirror, beneath all the cynicism.

Also I don’t agree with the take I’ve seen on here that this episode is just “social media is bad!” I didn’t get that vibe at all? I think that’s a fairly superficial reading of the episode. To me, it struck a balance. By showing how fast the Smithereen tech team were able to get Andrew’s information the episode was saying, “hey not everything is bad out here look at how useful these tools can be when in the right hands.” It’s terrifying to know how fast and extensive people can dig into your history, faster even, than the people supposedly trying to protect us, but it’s also like the writers are saying, “see, we can do good stuff too.”

No, it’s not a wholly original idea and yes, Black Mirror has tackled this concept before (but if all you get out of any episode of Black Mirror is that the show is preaching to you tech is bad I don’t know why you’re watching?). But I appreciated the grounded feeling to this scenario. I appreciated them tackling this from a different, quieter approach.

Yeah, this ep was a punch in the gut. And also, Andrew Scott is a phenomenal actor, I’ve never seen him in anything else but I am obsessed with low-key scenes and episodes where an actor can carry extended lengths of the film on their own bearing it’s impressive.

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