When it first found its way to the US, Black Mirror had the enviable coolness factor that comes from being a little-known UK import. People had to sing its praises and pressure their friends to jump aboard the Outer Limits-style sci-fi anthology series that was blessed with a dark edge and a deeply-held antipathy toward, not modern technology, but the ways we have responded to and been changed by it. When the show finally broke out on Netflix, the praise and recommendations became ubiquitous as the growing army of fans clamored for more from creator Charlie Brooker. Finally, with the release of season three, those wishes were granted, but the reception was somewhere between positive and mixed.
If you watched those six new episodes, though, you may be dealing with more than just your overall view of what you witnessed. In that the show glides so closely to our techno-present in its view of the techno-future, you may be feeling concern for what was forecast. And because we want to really tweak those fears and unsettle you further (sorry), we decided to go through the third season of the show and rank the episodes based on feasibility with a quick look at the state of the tech featured therein.
Shut Up And Dance
The Story: An awkward teenager (Alex Lawther) gets a mysterious text message from a hacker who used his webcam to tape him whilst he was pleasuring himself. They threaten to release the tape to his mother and the world at large if he doesn’t follow a set of orders which eventually push him to extremes. Others are lured into the same trap, but any shred of sympathy that the viewer has for the victims of this cruel extortionary game are removed when the true extent of their despicable behavior is revealed.
The Reality: Cyber blackmail has been a problem for more than a decade. While the episode focuses mostly on men, in many cases, it’s women who are targeted with this crime. As for using someone’s webcam to take unwanted video of them, well, people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and FBI head James Comey put tape over their webcams according to The Guardian. There are also companies that sell stickers and other devices to cover webcams in a more fashionable way, indicating that the threat is quite real and that it has a lot of people’s attention.
Feasibility: 5 of 5