The following article contains spoilers.
Charlie Brooker is a genius. But that may not be a good thing in a world that seems to take his disturbing science fiction predictions as viable suggestions. The creator of the BBC’s Black Mirror has previously tried to use the show to change UK law and held a painful mirror up the world of reality television. And with the third season in-bound, it may be time to assess how many of the show’s horrible predictions have already come true.
Here’s our look at the entire run of the show, and an evaluation of how close these horrific futures are to becoming nightmare day-to-days. Spoiler: things are very bleak.
The National Anthem
The UK’s Prime Minister is forced to fuck a pig on television as part of an art project gone terrorist. Impossible, right?
The Daily Mail reported last September that David Cameron fucked a pig in college as part of an elaborate secret hazing ritual. The specifics are NOT GREAT but there to be read if you want proof. You can just take our word, though. Of everything on Black Mirror we really thought this would be the last to come true. Oof.
Fifteen Million Merits
A bunch of human batteries wind up in a reality singing competition.
This one is actually in development now. Back in February, we reported on a stamp-sized device that will use your body’s movements and electricity to do things like charge your cell phone, once the efficiency issues of the device are cracked, that is.
The Entire History of You
Using implants, everyone can record and playback every moment of their lives, and a deeply jealous man uses the technology to expose an infidelity.
There are a lot of modern applications of this same technology, so we’ll pick a few that may be exploited in similar ways. First, Samsung has designs for a set of contact lens that would do exactly the same thing as shown in this episode.
Also, there’s Kapture, which is a wristband-based recording device that allows you to replay anything you’ve recently experienced, since it is always recording and has a speaker for immediate playback. Immediately upon seeing the device, I commented that I could see this being goddamned awful for fights between couples. Hilariously, a lot of the promotional photographs seem to show couples using the device to become closer… somehow.
Be Right Back
After dying in an automobile accident, a man’s wife uses his social media account to bring her husband back, as a copy of himself.
Again, this is already available. We’ve reported previously about ETER9 which is a social media network that invites you to do all of the legwork yourself to digitize your eternal presence. The idea of a child learning about his family’s history through conversations with his long-dead grandfather’s synthetic personality is deeply weird, but also understandable and even sweet. Ditto the thought of your digital self-consoling your wife at your funeral with stories you’d fed it 10 years ago.
A woman is punished for her crimes as part of a reality show that is also a theme park.
Weirdly, this is basically the only episode that has no direct real-world comparison, but it hits on dozens of thematic ones. As an episode, it has far more violence and insanity (kinda) so it is oddly forward-leaning and Clockwork Orange-hued at the same time. Crime spectator sport built ‘90s TV and we’ve had to back off recently, since the suicides around To Catch A Predator. But it’s all the same DNA. That said, if you want to experience an amusement park full of criminals, I recommend you visit Knott’s Berry Farm park during their Halloween period as “Knott’s Scary Farm”. It’s not an overt criminal park, but if you’ve never seen a guy who gets hired to do part-time minimum wage work chasing children with fake knives in Buena Park, CA… well… There’s a long history of gangs and amusements parks because who doesn’t love a good thrill?
That said, if you haven’t seen Peter Watkins’ 1971 docu-satire Punishment Park, you should really track down a copy. Many of these ideas had a genesis in that film.
The Waldo Moment
An animated racist cartoon gets elected instead of a real politician and it sends the entire world into a dystopia.
This is on the verge of coming true. Stay tuned.
Jon Hamm and a buddy discuss some MRA pick-up tactics and use a tortuous VR device to press charges against a possible criminal.
There are a few storylines in this feature-length episode, but needless to say they’re all in the deck. The personality egg-algorithm was basically covered in Be Right Back and the extensions of multi-platform social media blocking/erasure are getting better as tech expands into app based blocking and pre-emptive political blockades.
Perhaps the most troubling idea is that of legal prosecution based on virtual evidence. As any good Law & Order: SVU fan knows, computer animated re-enactments of crimes are inherently biased, especially when anything resembling a likeness of the defendant is used (as in the S11Ep4 SVU episode “Hammered’’; shut up I just know these things.) That said, courtrooms are already dabbling in Oculus tech and that means reformed laws might not be far behind.
Anyhow, we can’t wait for the new season of the show to hit Netflix sometime later this year. Hopefully Charlie Brooker doesn’t predict that I die a terrible death and use my first and last name, because he’s seven for seven so far. Great work, Charlie!