Black Mirror and McLuhan

As disturbing as it was, Black Mirror did have really good social implications on how this generation is reliant on technology and media. In every shot some sort of technology was utilized, whether it was a phone, television, camera, or computer for some examples. Everybody was constantly on their phones and did not put them down for anything. Even when the reporter was running for her life from the police, she kept her phone in her hand instead of dropping the thing and running as fast as she can. The reporter, for example, was so concerned with getting the footage and making sure her phone was safe that she disregarded her own safety for the story. The Prime Minister’s wife was constantly on the computer to view the social media comments about the situation at hand, including comments directed at her and her own family. The technology use was not beneficial in any way and just left her feeling even more unsettled and upset. The constant use of technology really put a hinderance on the characters and their livelihood, as seen through the reporter and the Prime Minister’s wife.

I think something really profound that came from the show is when the act was being committed. Every single person was watching the television and what was happening, not a single person with their television off or not watching. The fact that people can be so disgusted but so curious that they would be able to watch something so crude is interesting. The same theory is applied to the movie Untraceable, as the more people watch deathly acts against a person they don’t even know, the faster that person dies. There is something in the human nature that is so curious about acts they do not see everyday, that they are willing to subject themselves, and others, to watching such a thing. In the instance of both Black Mirror and Untraceable, people used their technology to curb their curiosity. Through television and the internet, people from around the world subjected themselves to horrendous acts and didn’t look away, even though they may have wanted to.

So how does Black Mirror relate to Marshall McLuhan’s interview with Playboy magazine? McLuhan states in his interview that “effective study of the media deals with not only the content of the media but with the media themselves and the total cultural environment within which the media function”. Basically, McLuhan is stating that media is not just about the content. Television is not just what is on at the moment, magazines are more than the articles they produce and phones are more than the social media apps people use them for. Media, and especially the study of it, is focused on each individual part and how it makes a whole and how the environment in which media exists thrives and spreads. Black Mirror takes place in modern day where everyone is attached to their electronic devices and how one corporation or industry can have a large presence in everyday lives in several different ways. The news station used not only regular television to get it’s programs through, but also social media to give live updates and the internet to post videos that were captured by cell phones. The news station needed to be able to reach as many people in the fastest ways possible, as the environment called for it. The people were curious, and in an age where information is fast and instantaneous, they were doing what their environment told them to. The environment in which the media existed wanted the updates and wanted to know what was going on, as human nature is curious and is always wondering.

In the end, while I may not watch Black Mirror again, I do appreciate some of the social implications they made. The idea that people are so reliant on technology that it is in every scene and the idea that people are so curious they would subject themselves to things they do not want to see or experience and that technology makes this so easy is fascinating. McLuhan states it perfectly, that the media is more than just the technology it is on. It is about the people that make the environment what it is that greatly influences the media and what companies and industries will do to keep their environment happy and thriving that make it up.


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