Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Black Mirror - A Window To The Future or Satire, A Discussion on Nosedive

Alice Eve as Naomi and Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie in "Nosedive" (Black Mirror Season 3, Episode 1)
Certain episode of Black Mirror seem to fall into the "lighter" category - probably as much because of their stylistic elements and production style, as opposed to their content, "Nosedive" is a stand out in this lighter style. Where certainly episodes like "The Waldo Moment"  or "San Junipero" fall into these categories, "Nosedive" over delivers with a a bubbly Bryce Dallas Howard who is taking cutesy pictures of her lattes and childhood stuffed animals as a tool to compel people to rate her highly online.

Where many episodes begin and you wonder "what in the world is going on here?" this episode that opens series 3 is not nearly as mysterious -- the question is "where is this going?" and give you an hour to ponder the consequences of a society based on the star rating of others (imagine Yelp and Instagram coming together to make a disastrous act where star rating controlled every single part of life).

In this "Nosedive," directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) there may be a little bit of that "this could happen" feeling, but in more ways it comes across as pure satire. This is the only episode of the series my wife joined me in watching and after we watched we both had reflections the following day of odd elevator interactions and made jokes throughout the week of how we would rate others (and how they would rate us) after various interactions.

An episode like "Nosedive" isn't a stand alone for instant reflection, but is certainly one that connects in daily life. Certain people certainly care more about their "like count," "fried count," or "follower count" on various social media platforms. Sure, the thoughts are not to far off in this regard (we live in a world where there are professional instagrammers), but on the flip side your social network profile doesn't impact your ability to get a first class seat on an airplane or entrance into a resort.

That said, there are going to be certain circles where people care about your "counts" in these networks a way that didn't exist a decade ago. I have heard people talk about concerns or thoughts on their connection count on sites like LinkedIn, or if you are a motivational speaker or local business or anyone who tries to generate their own grass roots brand certainly hasn't to be tuned into this space.

I have to think that Office and Parks & Recreation alumni Michael Schur and Rashida Jones (and Harvard grads) in writing this episode wanted to present this as comic parody of how we live today more than a fearful presentation of a future possibility.

Episodes like "Nosedive" that create a slightly changed world certainly raise questions unanswered by the episode -- for me, questions from this universe included when does a child begin rating others and start being rated? What industry is maintaining this rating system and preventing hacks or corruption? Is this a global program or defined by certain jurisdictions?

Schur and Jones would probably tell me "stop thinking so hard, enjoy it for what it is." And with that, I will.

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