Sci-2

Black Mirror - Spoilers after the first post

180 posts in this topic

28 minutes ago, DaveSumm said:

Take Shut Up and Dance.......it made for horrific viewing, but does it really tell us much about internet blackmail? What's the take-home? Or Playtest; again an excellent hour of television, but other than perhaps 'call your Mum more often', do we come out the other side having enriched our opinions in anyway?

Playtest was meant to be the most 'basic' one, per the creator - simply a horror story, plain and simple, no real message or hubris. It was jokingly based on a comment on The Toast, the 'what if phones, but too much'. It was also an interesting view on what we actually do perceive as 'real', but largely it was a monster of the week show and not meant to be more than that and a shout out to a lot of videogames. 

But Shut Up and Dance I thought was one of the more interesting ones. Sure, it's internet blackmail - but it's also social justice. In the end we find out that every single one of them was doing something bad, and the ones that will get into the most trouble did the most bad (aka were pedophiles). The whole scheme had nothing to do with earning any money or being selfish at all - it had to do with hurting these people and exposing their secrets. 

So are they the bad guys? If someone did that to you, would you be forgiven as a victim or mocked as a criminal and ostracized? 

One of the most fascinating ways to judge someone's character is to have them watch the first 6 eps of Black Mirror and then ask what their favorite is. It's almost always fairly revealing.

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10 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Playtest was meant to be the most 'basic' one, per the creator - simply a horror story, plain and simple, no real message or hubris. It was jokingly based on a comment on The Toast, the 'what if phones, but too much'. It was also an interesting view on what we actually do perceive as 'real', but largely it was a monster of the week show and not meant to be more than that and a shout out to a lot of videogames. 

But Shut Up and Dance I thought was one of the more interesting ones. Sure, it's internet blackmail - but it's also social justice. In the end we find out that every single one of them was doing something bad, and the ones that will get into the most trouble did the most bad (aka were pedophiles). The whole scheme had nothing to do with earning any money or being selfish at all - it had to do with hurting these people and exposing their secrets. 

So are they the bad guys? If someone did that to you, would you be forgiven as a victim or mocked as a criminal and ostracized? 

One of the most fascinating ways to judge someone's character is to have them watch the first 6 eps of Black Mirror and then ask what their favorite is. It's almost always fairly revealing.

I think in hindsight I would put Playtest as the weakest of the season, because as you say it had no real message. While I thought the execution of episode five was weak, I feel the message was a lot more important so I'd bump it slightly.

The vigilantism in Shut Up and Dance was really thought provoking (I missed what the guy who had handed over the cake had done though - was he a bigamist or something?) and left me troubled. I wasn't rooting for either the vigilantes or the targets by the end.

Hated in the Nation was great. And I think it's the most powerful for me because of how often you see the targets of hate on social media for one reason or another, and people jumping on the bandwagon. Worrying.

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Men Against Fire grew on me more as I thought on it. The use of MASS to make the soldiers kill indiscriminately is horrifying. However, they signed up for it, willingly. The government isn't using this as a way to demonize the enemy - the enemy has already been declared bad by the people. As an example, are the soldiers worse for killing the roaches - or are the villagers worse, who see the people as they are and willingly call in the soldiers anyway? 

Is it worse knowing that they signed up for this? They chose to do this? 

Because MASS is bad - but it also completely saves the soldiers from trauma. They can come home with literally no recollection of anything bad they did and lead an entirely normal life, free of pain or issues or anything. They aren't going to be suicidal or homicidal or raging or depressed. They'll be fine. Happy, even. 

That was the real scary thing, for me - is that I could easily see this being justified. Not necessarily against roaches - that was the weak part, the weird ass eugenic bullshit - but just to make it so our troops could desensitize and be trauma free while essentially being good psychopaths on the battlefield as we want them to be. Because of course we want to prevent suicide. Of course we want to make their lives better afterwards. Of course we don't want them to suffer the horrors of warfare. The psychiatrist was brilliant in his ability to show the other, reasonable side of it. 

I also liked how the soldiers were rewarded with sex dreams in exchange for kills and/or good behavior. I thought that was almost worse. 

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10 hours ago, Kalbear said:

But Shut Up and Dance I thought was one of the more interesting ones. Sure, it's internet blackmail - but it's also social justice. In the end we find out that every single one of them was doing something bad, and the ones that will get into the most trouble did the most bad (aka were pedophiles). The whole scheme had nothing to do with earning any money or being selfish at all - it had to do with hurting these people and exposing their secrets. 

So are they the bad guys? If someone did that to you, would you be forgiven as a victim or mocked as a criminal and ostracized? 

I guess this is what I was getting at when I said it'd probably change if I watched them in a different order, SUaD felt like it was partially retreading White Bear in that it took a vilified part of society and began its story from their perspective. But where White Bear took this point of view of "prison's too good for em" and cranked it to 11 to ask just how much torture you'd be comfortable with these people enduring, SUaD was kind of the same but not quite as extreme. And I just left feeling much the same as I did before about both child sex abuse and 'mob rule' social justice, that they're both (though not necessarily to the same degree) awful. It employed a bad thing to punish a bad person.

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And I just left feeling much the same as I did before about both child sex abuse and 'mob rule' social justice, that they're both (though not necessarily to the same degree) awful. It employed a bad thing to punish a bad person.

Yeah, it's kind of like how sexual abusers of children are often themselves abused in prison. Do we as a society think this is a good thing? this too is a sort of a mob rule social justice. How much is too much? Is locking them away not enough and they need to be punished further outside the law?

And we even have an example of a fictional TV hacker in Mr. Robot and how Elliot would handle this kind of retribution. It's pretty clear the hacker or hackers in Shut Up and Dance are pretty vicious. 

San Junipero was my second favorite this season, coming very close to Shut up and Dance. Likely the happiest episode ever of Black Mirror. It was pretty creepy at the end there, however. I've never really bought that our conciousness could be transferred like that. I tend to think it'd be a copy, and thus you'd be dying. Great chemistry with the leads though and awsome 80's nostalgia. I loved it. If I lived there I'd probably just constantly play the arcade games.

Edited by Martell Spy

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San Junipero feels like it needs a 'sister' episode from the perspective of Wes (or someone like him).....

.....this graveyard you're so in love with.....and now you give me some sales pitch about how fucking peachy forever could be? You wanna spend forever somewhere nothing matters? End up like Wes, all those lost fucks at the Quagmire trying anything to feel something?

I loved San Junipero and I guess the season needed a lighter episode, but it feels like there's a much more interesting episode hiding in that dialogue.

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21 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I think in hindsight I would put Playtest as the weakest of the season, because as you say it had no real message.

See that's why I loved it; for me a work of fiction is better the more it can move me emotionally. And for that to happen i have to really buy into the story, and i can't do that when i can feel the author in the background preaching from his pulpit. HItN didn't feel organic at all, I had to constantly suspend my disbelief, whereas SUaD was so plausible to me (just like Men on Fire was) that i wasn't at all surprised when I read this BBC article this morning:

Skype sex scam

 

 

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On 10/26/2016 at 11:21 PM, Kalbear said:

But Shut Up and Dance I thought was one of the more interesting ones. Sure, it's internet blackmail - but it's also social justice.

Oh, no. No, it wasn't any kind of justice. That's the point.

The blackmailers weren't vigilantes. They were just trolls. Hence the trollfaces at the end, and the double whammy of the blackmail followed by the exposure. The blackmailers didn't need to set up all that complicated plot to get justice, particularly not if they were going to expose the victims anyway. All of that was done for their own entertainment.

The whole point is that the blackmailers didn't really care about the victims' crimes as anything but a way of getting power over them. They didn't really make any moral distinction between Kenny's paedophilia and Hector's attempted infidelity. Remember, they were happy to let Kenny and Hector decide for themselves who was going to actually do the hold-up: Hector could have wound up waving the gun at the bank clerks. Yes, Kenny was the one made to fight the other paedophile, but the implication I took was that this was because the blackmail material was stronger.

The episode works because of the bad motivations of the blackmailers. If this was just a story of vigilante justice, it wouldn't be so interesting. It's more complex than that: the intent is to make the audience feel a tension between their initial sympathy for Kenny and the visceral response of finding out what he'd done.

On 10/26/2016 at 10:42 PM, DaveSumm said:

Or Playtest; again an excellent hour of television, but other than perhaps 'call your Mum more often', do we come out the other side having enriched our opinions in anyway? And I'm really asking, I've watched them over two days so probably have more digesting to do.

The thing about Playtest, for me, is that it's not a coincidence that the lead character's father had Alzheimer's. Much of what he experiences seems to me meant to mirror that, most obviously when he can't remember who he is or how he got there, but also in other aspects. It's an exploration of what it's like to not know what's real, with a reminder that every day there are people who experience that.

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San Junipero was lovely, and much needed after 'Shut up and dance', to be honest. I've been rationing out these episodes over the past week, I think I've got two more left?

I liked Playtest, but I don't think it will stay with me like some of the best episodes of Black Mirror. 

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I'm not saying that it was just about vigilante ism. But that is certainly an aspect. And it's clear that the worst offenders got the worst punishments. The racist woman lost her career, the two cheaters got revealed to their spouses - but the two pedophiles fought to the death, where one died and the other was charged with the murder. It was one of the reasons the twist works - because Kevin seemed to be getting caught doing something kind of normal but embarrassing, and it turns out that you've been rooting for a pedophile this whole time.

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2 hours ago, Kalbear said:

I'm not saying that it was just about vigilante ism. But that is certainly an aspect.

I can see how it might appear that way, but it really isn't an aspect as far as I can see.

The blackmailers show no interest in the people their victims have wronged, or in revenge, or justice. The racist email woman is asked to do a relatively trivial task. She loses her job because her offence was serious - but what she's told by the blackmailers to do is minor compared to what Hector is told to do, despite her offence being worse than his (or at least equal to it). That suggests the relative weight of offences wasn't the deciding factor for the blackmailers. I also think it's significant that we're not told what the cake delivery guy did. If this was a story about vigilantism, that would be an important detail. I take that as a heavy hint that his offence isn't important, because none of their offences are really important to the blackmailers, except as levers.

And as I already said, the very fact that the blackmailers make the victims do this shit and then turn them in anyway, makes it clear they were never vigilantes. Vigilantes would have used the setup to exact their punishment because they didn't trust other means: these guys went through the whole thing and then used the other means anyway. They also had no concern for the victims of the bank robbery: that doesn't fit with them being vigilantes either. And vigilantes might have used some other symbol as their last message, but it wouldn't have been that trollface. That's someone taunting you, not someone declaring that justice has been done. Finally, the episode title doesn't really work if the blackmailers are vigilantes - but it does if their motivation was simple sadism.

2 hours ago, Kalbear said:

 It was one of the reasons the twist works - because Kevin seemed to be getting caught doing something kind of normal but embarrassing, and it turns out that you've been rooting for a pedophile this whole time.

That's clearly part of the story, yeah. Your sympathy gets engaged because the blackmailers are horrible to him (though there are clear hints all along that something's up with Kenny: I actually figured it out before the reveal). But the twist is not, actually Kenny's a bad person and they're vigilantes. The twist is, Kenny's a bad person and so are they. That's significantly more interesting, to me.

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No, i'm with Kal the severity of the punishment was clearly proportional to the crime. The cake delievery guy was watching some sort of weird porn clearly - we see a shot of his family arguing and his mum calling him a pervert. The other two did what ? Spend money she already had on a car, and the other a get away driver in a robbery ? The paedophiles fought to the death! You really can't say it wasn't proportional.

I also don't think the hackers were particularly bad; they only targeted the guilty and they certainly didn't push some of the others as far they could have done; i'm sure they see themselves as vigilantes. If they had just made them do shit and then kept quiet THAT would have been pure sadism but the fact they exposed them afterwards and gave up their power over them meant that it was all about the punishment for them.

Edited by Sheep the Evicted

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11 hours ago, Sheep the Evicted said:

they only targeted the guilty

It's notoriously difficult to blackmail the innocent. ;)

Again, I think it's 100% clear that these guys were not, and were not intended to be, vigilantes. Vigilantes inflict their own justice, and they don't report people to the authorities afterwards. They were done with their game and they decided to finish with a final twist of the knife for laughs. That's what the trollface is all about. You don't send someone a trollface to tell them 'justice has been done'. You send it to them to say 'ha, sucker!'

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Nosedive >shut up and dance >san junipero>playtest 

Didn't care at all for the other 2. Too predictable and boring.  Junipero was incredibly boring the first 15 minutes but then got incredibly good... Its the only one depicting a future that I'd actually like to live in. 

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On 10/30/2016 at 2:41 AM, mormont said:

It's notoriously difficult to blackmail the innocent. ;)

Again, I think it's 100% clear that these guys were not, and were not intended to be, vigilantes. Vigilantes inflict their own justice, and they don't report people to the authorities afterwards. They were done with their game and they decided to finish with a final twist of the knife for laughs. That's what the trollface is all about. You don't send someone a trollface to tell them 'justice has been done'. You send it to them to say 'ha, sucker!'

It can be both. I think that's what you're missing. Clearly they wanted to fuck with their victims, but also clearly the punishment fit the crime significantly. The people that got fucked with the most also were the ones with the worst things done. You can spin that and say that they were willing to go to the most lengths, and I guess that's fair, but that doesn't explain at all why Kenny gets arrested not for the pictures but for killing the other guy. Why bother filming him kill someone if it's just for the lols?

And vigilantism isn't just causing others pain and doing their own justice; how many times has Spider-Man caught some bad guys and hung them outside of a police station to be arrested? How many times has Batman done that? Kenny wouldn't have been tried with a murder charge if not for these guys, and the other pedophile wouldn't have been dead if it wasn't for these guys. Yeah, they didn't take matters into their literal own hands but it's clear that they meted out justice beyond what the pedophiles would have gotten in jail. 

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Maybe you're supposed to think about vigilantism but I think Mormont is right, ultimately. The hackers wanted to watch two guys fight to the death so they arranged it so that would happen. Then they signed off with a big fuck you to everyone involved. Yes, they got Kenny arrested but that seemed more like just eking out a last bit of amusement from the situation rather than serving justice.

The paedophiles get punished more severely only because they'll go further because they have more to lose. Hector and Kenny even have a conversation about it when Hector wonders why Kenny cares so much about a masturbation video. In fact Hector seems willing to go unusually, even unbelievably, far just to avoid a leak about (as far as i could tell) an infidelity that never happened since the hackers faked the escort?

Anyway, I had a couple of issues with the plotting of this episode.

Firstly, I wasn't sure how much sympathy i was supposed to feel for Kenny at any point. The paedophile thing was fairly obviously signposted but it wasn't clear exactly what he did or if it was even a crime (although definitely hard to explain to your social circle). I find it hard to believe that he was accessing the dark web and getting hardcore images when he googles for malware fixes and lets his sister take his laptop with little protest beyond what any brother would make.

Secondly, the technology doesn't work. So they have a video of him masturbating to something and they can say it's images of children. Can't see how they can possibly prove it to anyone though. In fact, telling the police would have been a more credible threat. Except somehow it is enough to get his mum phoning him in hysterics because "they're saying" it's something to do with children. Nah, not buying that.

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10 hours ago, Kalbear said:

It can be both. I think that's what you're missing.

Not at all: I understand that it can be both. It just isn't, in this case.

Look at Hector. What's he doing there? I mean, why have the writers put him in, other than for someone for Kenny to talk to? Why are these 'vigilantes' bothered about a man's attempted infidelity? Hector's case is pure blackmail. So why isn't Kenny's? I'd suggest that the only reason anyone goes away thinking that is because Kenny's punishment does seem deserved to us. But that's not proof that it was intended as such.

10 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Clearly they wanted to fuck with their victims, but also clearly the punishment fit the crime significantly. The people that got fucked with the most also were the ones with the worst things done.

No, they weren't: see previous remarks about Hector being forced to rob a bank vs the CEO just having to supply a car. The fight to the death is the only example of what you're saying, and that's easily explained by the fact that you need more leverage for that.

10 hours ago, Kalbear said:

You can spin that and say that they were willing to go to the most lengths, and I guess that's fair, but that doesn't explain at all why Kenny gets arrested not for the pictures but for killing the other guy. Why bother filming him kill someone if it's just for the lols?

The drone's there so they can watch. We don't know if they recorded it, let alone turned that over the the police: there's no need, really. Kenny's right there with a backpack full of stolen cash, covered in blood, and there's a body in the woods presumably covered in forensic evidence.

10 hours ago, Kalbear said:

And vigilantism isn't just causing others pain and doing their own justice; how many times has Spider-Man caught some bad guys and hung them outside of a police station to be arrested? How many times has Batman done that? Kenny wouldn't have been tried with a murder charge if not for these guys, and the other pedophile wouldn't have been dead if it wasn't for these guys. Yeah, they didn't take matters into their literal own hands but it's clear that they meted out justice beyond what the pedophiles would have gotten in jail. 

It's not at all clear that they cared about justice, though. We find out very little about the blackmailers, so it's easy to project onto them. But the little we do know doesn't fit with justice being among their motivations.

8 hours ago, john said:

Secondly, the technology doesn't work. So they have a video of him masturbating to something and they can say it's images of children. Can't see how they can possibly prove it to anyone though. In fact, telling the police would have been a more credible threat. Except somehow it is enough to get his mum phoning him in hysterics because "they're saying" it's something to do with children. Nah, not buying that.

I guess if you have access to the laptop, you can record from the webcam and also capture what he's looking at on the screen, at the same time. Timestamps and metadata would prove the link.

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Finally saw the last one, it was OK but nothing special. A shame for an extra long season closer. Something they've always managed in the past is to offer a natural feeling environment regardless of what they're portraying, and make you believe that these people live with this technology as part of their everyday lives. Hated in the Nation felt very stiff and stilted at times, as if the actors didn't quite believe in all this stuff. I can imagine the writers sat round with a script that portrays a devastating outcome to a social media storm, with one final thing to figure out - "is there really no other way he could kill people without being there? Or are we gonna have to stick with this stupid bee thing?", which sadly needed far more exposition than the episode needed. It's not like it had time or inclination to actually say anything about the declining bee population or its impact.

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This show is absolutely fascinating.  I've now seen all of season 3 and season 1 plus the John Hamm episode and the Haley Atwel / Domnal Gleeson ep of season 2. 

I agree with a common sentiment on San Junipero that it was quite affecting and mostly uplifting unlike a lot of Black Mirror episodes.  And the black actress from that episode is just incredible.  Is she about to blow up as a big star?  Not sure I know her from anything else.

Russel was such a perfect trying-to-be-chill center-left American bro in Playlist though that episode wasn't all that compelling to me.

I'm sort of torn on Hated in the Nation, but if nothing else, that Prime Minister was fucking hilarious.  Some of the funniest lines eve.

Shut up and Dance was indeed disturbing.  If you aren't already freaked out enough about how the internet of things is watching you, console yourself with the news that computers are getting freakishly good a lip reading on top of everything else. 

 

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San Junipero was initially dull but incredibly powerful in the end. I might be in the minority that I didn't really see it as a happy ending. I guess it was a happy ending for Yorkie but given Kelly's gut wrenching speech after the wedding it felt like a sad ending for her. She knew it was false and she was also giving up on her own family. The upbeat song and the juxtaposition between Yorkie and kelly being happy and the robot server rooms just left me very ill at ease. Excellent episode in that it raises a lot of questions about reality and love.

I also think the comment about the long-timers growing bored and getting into s&m etc in order to feel was a dark side of the story. Definitely an episode that could warrant a sequel maybe 50+ years down the line for the vitual undead.

Shut up and dance was terrifying in the sense that type of stuff is happening now. Most episodes have a 5 mins from now vibe but this one was immediate. I love the debate between Kalbear and Mormont. I think i lean more to the hackers being sadistic fucks who maybe justify their actions under the guise of vigilantism. Pretty sure the drone was just for their own viewing pleasure as I'm not sure them submitting that to the police would help convict the kid. If there was evidence leaning someone had coerced him he'd be getting a reduced sentence. The actor playing the kid was phenomenal - that was some really challenging material and he did so in a way that (to me) wasn't obvious at first but quite clear with hindsight (the scene where he gave the kid a toy was a prime example).

I thought Nosedive was fun but not fully believable/workable and ultimately the same problem that wealth creates. Playtest was straightforward but had a hilarious and dark punchline. Men against fire wasn't executed that well but I did find the use of the tech interesting as it does seem like a natural progression from the dehumanizing tactics seen in the media (and quite a lot in british media of late). I sometimes forget that propaganda of this sort was probably used to drive army recruitment in times of war and to encourage them to kill the enemy. This seems like a natural progression once they sign up. It seemed a bit shitty that the retirement package was a lie too - although maybe perception is what really matters? Not sure how the fake wife would work though. Guess it has parallels with San Junepero and playtest in that sense.

Still need to watch the final episode

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