A good friend has insisted that “Black Mirror” is must-see TV. So the other night, after rather a lot of beer, veggie kebabs and amid tequila and pistachios, he took one for the team and signed up to Four on Demand so we could watch an episode.
It’s all very well-done. A young lawyer is being appraised, with the possibility that he won’t be invited to stay with the company. As he sits in the taxi on the way to the airport he… is able to play back his memories, noting small things in what the panel said. He gets to the airport check-in and they ask him to play back the last 24 hours of his memories on fastforward. He complies, of course…
This is territory somewhere between Brave New World, 1984 , Minority Report and Kathryn “torture works” Bigelow’s “Strange Days.”
He gets home to find a party in progress. His wife is standing a little bit too close to another man. Everyone has the same facility of being able to “redo” their memories, onto the nearest television screen. A young woman at the party has a scar where her “grain” (a small black device behind the ear that allows this recording and replaying was, until it was hacked out of her. She declares herself happier without the ability to store her memories indefinitely and play them back in full at will.
The lawyer starts to watch what is happening around the dinner table, and re-watches. And probes…
This is well-conceived and well-executed television. This “it’s important to forget” thing has been covered before of course – Borges’ short story on Funes, no?
It’s a very “be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” You can know the truth, but it won’t necessarily set you free (or happy).
You can’t forgive unless you forget the emotion attached to the “facts” of the matter. And if you don’t forgive, you will suffer. Memory must fade, or you will live your life raw and short.
Fun Fact: The guy who wrote this is half of the duo behind – with Chris Morris – the brilliant “Four Lions“.
Keywords: Sousveillance, Surveillance, participatory surveillance, panspectron