Dr.Tim Connolly Discusses the Philosophy Behind the British Series “Black Mirror”

Image via ESU Flickr

By Richard MacTough  

Staff Writer


Dr. Tim Connolly believes television will be remembered as the greatest achievement of the 21th century. Connolly argues television has reached its highest peak. The professor explained there were over 400 scripted television series in 2016.

In the golden age of TV, “Black Mirror” is a series about the collective unease in contemporary society surrounded by advanced technology.

Connolly lectured on behalf of the Provost Colloquium Series at ESU. A crowd of students, faculty and East Stroudsburg community members gathered in Beers Lecture Hall on April 5.

“Several shows focus on the dark side of technology,” said Connolly.

People of the world may have collections of worries with technology. Examples include government and corporate surveillance, a decrease in empathy and cyber-terrorism.

“My advice is don’t look into it [cyber-terrorism], because what you may find may be very troubling,” said Connolly.

He explained it can attack transportation systems and be used to steal private data.

Government and corporate surveillance has been a recent theme of concern.

“Your internet service provider can take your browsing data and sell it to the highest bidder,” said Connolly.

“Data selling” was a legislative document recently signed by President Donald Trump.

Connolly clarified “Black Mirror” is like the “Twilight Zone” in which it does not have a linear plot.

The professor briefly talked about popular episodes such as “The Entire History of You.” The characters in the episode of have an implant that allows them to record every moment in their life from birth. They can play the recorded footage of anytime. The episode has a theme about the manipulation of the very nature of memory.

“Nosedive” is another popular episode that conveys daily interactions with peers and strangers as a rating system constructing human social reality.

Connolly engaged the audience in a conversation about what he would describe the most disturbing episode, “White Bear.”

The episode begins with a women being chased and surrounded by people filming her. They don’t tell her what is going and offer no help. Her memory has been wiped clean and she has no idea why she is in her current situation.

Connolly compares the episode to the Panoptican, a prison like structure used to disturb the convicted. It is a power to have control over someone being watched constantly.

Connolly had his first year experience class watch the episode and give reactions. One student said, “All I could think about when the episode was over, was whether or not she really deserved what was happening to her.”

Punishment in such an exercise with technology can be used to give users power. “Black Mirror” is a series showing technology can be an outlet for the darker aspects of human nature.


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