Charlie Brooker has always had a cynical eye on the future. His Black Mirror takes place 20 minutes from now, in a world ten degrees more cynical than our own. And this new season has room to explore this darkness—it’s direct to Netflix, with episodes at least an hour long. The season is preoccupied in particular with the parts of our identities we submerge and put in danger in the course of just getting by, and how hard it is to break free of our everyday tech; it’s Black Mirror: Terms and Conditions.But a second thematic thread emerges, particularly through Brooker’s darkest visions, and gets to the heart of what this future is, and who it’s for. Black Mirror is already certain technology is dangerous—that second question is: Are you? Every horror story is both a cautionary tale and an empathy experiment—but an empathy experiment works by forcing you to understand something you hadn’t previously considered. The most revealing part of Black Mirror might be what the show thinks its audience needs to hear, and what it assumes will be news to them.
‘Black Mirror’ Has a Bleak View of Technology, Humanity, and Its Audience