Black Mirror was undoubtedly one of the greatest phenomena of the modern era of TV series, and it’s not hard to understand why the audience was that fascinated: a series conceived as it was a journey made of short movies, each on them building a cathartic descent in our fears towards the future. A visionary way, often terrifying but still possible, to imagine where we are going, and what can happen if we don’t pay enough attention to the hidden dangers behind the possible evolutions of our world.
A way to open our eyes, but it’s not just that. Black Mirror is also a direct interaction with our fears. Something very similar to the purpose that nightmares have on our psyche: allowing us to live our fear, making us aware of what we would feel, and then wake us up and reassure us that it’s not (yet) happened. Black Mirror is warning and catharsis at the same time, two extremely useful roles when dealing with progress and future.
A question that comes up normally is: why “Black Mirror”? What is the reason, and the meaning, of this title?
The Black Mirror is not just a threatening image that shows the dark side of ourselves, the fear of what we see in front of us. “Black Mirror” has a much more real and practical meaning, explained by the creator Charlie Brooker: it’s the screen of the devices that we use every day, TV, computers, tablets and smartphones, when they are turned off. The symbols of our technological society, once deactivated, become a black surface reflecting our figure (or rather our shadow) and this image has exerted a dark fascination on the creator of the series, eventually becoming the title.
Metaphorically, the Black Mirror is what’s in front of us after technology stops working. It’s the emptiness where we see our person, deformed in black, excluding the light of our rationality. It’s the dark side of progress, in a very successful metaphor. But it’s still a mirror: because, at the very bottom, technology is us. We are the only responsibles for its misuse, for the way we use the tools and the places of our 2.0 living. It’s therefore an invitation to not feel distant from the dangers shown in each episode. It’s a useful warning: we are full participants of what we see, and we need to consider it something more than a simple episode of dystopian science fiction.
The threats connected to our future are in our hands, we are the ones that should do something to prevent them to happen. Black Mirror, by its title, simply intends to reiterate its warning message, reminding us on each episode that it’s better not to consider what we see as simple tv entertainment.