Through a screen darkly: Black Mirror, thought experiments, and televisual philosophy

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Abstract

The award-winning television show Black Mirror (Brooker, 2011–19) has attracted widespread praise and critical acclaim. Recalling the episodic anthology format of The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror presents compelling depictions of near-future scenarios exploring the dark side of contemporary digital technology and audiovisual culture. Although most belong to the genre of dystopian science fiction, the episodes of Black Mirror could also be described as works of speculative cinematic fiction, deploying a variety of genres such as psychological horror, science fantasy, and the sociopolitical thriller. The stand-alone episodes of the five series of Black Mirror explore the uncanny, the fantastic, and the marvelous, but always with specific reference to our technologically mediated sense of social reality. With its focus on the ethical implications of current and future technological possibilities, Black Mirror offers a compelling case for the idea of “televisual philosophy.” In what follows I shall develop this thesis by exploring three related ways of approaching it: Black Mirror (1) as thought experiment, (2) as reflecting a critique of modern technology, and (3) as engaged in critical self-reflection on audiovisual media and on its own status as episodic television.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical reflections on Black Mirror
EditorsDaniel Shaw, Kingsley Marshall, James Rocha
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Chapter1
Pages11-30
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781350162143
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • film-philosophy
  • television
  • aesthetics
  • ethics
  • technology

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