Be Right Back, the first episode of in the second season of British televisions series Black Mirror stands out as quite a thrilling watch. It features the private life of a just widowed woman and the clone of the deceased husband. It starts with both alive, but the husband dies still at the beginning. In the pursuit of reunion with the memories of her late husband, the woman goes ahead to purchase a clone which upon following all the instructions is quite a physical success. It also performs substantially in terms of trying to portray some of the non-physical attributes of the late husband. It, however, does not turn out as efficient as the woman envisioned it at the beginning. The above episode highlights a lot about advanced technologies.
In light of the above, it leaves the audience with a touch of the future. More so, there is a substantial focus on the adverse influence of social media on people as observed by the husband before gets the accident. Digital media privacy features as a strong theme in the above episode as well. However, the above three major themes surface intertwined – together throughout the episode.
Science fiction stands out as one key element featured in the above episode of Black Mirror. Primarily, science fiction materially refers to a branch of Literature whose major concern is the change on people mostly in terms of technology. Notably, it features matters whose concern goes beyond the desires of an individual or a given community. In most instances, the results jeopardize the race or the civilization of humanity in general (Gunn & Candelaria, 2005). The recreation of Ash’s replica by Martha is quite a strong indicator for the above. More so, she does not consult with hi-tech experts but rather does it in her abode by listening to instructions from her Smartphone (or rather, Ash). However, the element of science fiction does not only surface from the action of physical cloning of Ash. Ideally, the first supporting concept is the ability to store and individual’s memories in the form of computer software. There are some scientific advancement in the field of robotics, but the aspect of saving the mind of a human being in electrical form is yet to be achieved (American
Medical Association, 2015). Therefore, the action of such a possibility is pure science fiction.
Social media, especially with its extreme short-term and long-term effects upon the human beings also surfaces as a strong element in the above episode of Black Mirror. Right from the start of the episode, it is evident that the relationship between Ash and Martha is quite affected by Ash’s addition to his Smartphone. He spent all the time he had on his own in social media related activities. It helps in bringing to light the adverse negative effects of social media on relationships (Porter, 2012). More so, even when he was with Martha, he still carried on with their conversation with his eyes stuck on his Smartphone. The above aspect of spending a lot of time on with his eyes glued on the Smartphone while doing social media related activities brings forth the concept of interactivity. Ideally, the above episode brings to light the effects of human’s over dependency on social media with relation to the contemporary indicators of social life. For instance, the primary person in Ash’s life is Martha since she is his wife or girlfriend. However, as it seems from the occurrences that happened before his fateful accident, it is obvious that he prioritized social media interactions more than the interactions he had with her. A good example is when he defines a picture he posted online as funny. Martha argues that it was not, something he agrees to, but agrees that he posted it for the online friend’s opinion. The reality of this situation portrays the nature of their interactions.
Additionally, the set-up of the above episode depicts the element of future very strongly. There are several concepts applied throughout the episode upon which the above conclusion finds the basis. To start with, the aspect of science fiction, as discussed above, is one strong indicator of the future setting of the episode. The rationale behind the above argument finds its basis in the fact that the technological advancement that allows domestic cloning on one’s own can only be possible in the distant future (American Medical Association, 2015). At the present, such advanced technology is not even available for scientific institutions operating under national and international mandates. More so, the aspect of surveillance applied in the above episode is so advanced to be of the current generation. In the current world, there is significantly sophisticated surveillance available. However, the level of the surveillance is not as depicted in the “Be Right Back.” For instance, Martha’s friend, the one who introduces her to the computer program form of Ash, says that the program schemes through the entire internet for traces of Ash’s online history in the pursuit of arriving at the best replica of Ash.
Other than surveillance, the aspect of digital media privacy also comes out as an indicator of the future setting of the episode. The rationale for above finds its basis in the fact that the current provisions for digital media cannot allow such levels of surveillance and social media scrutiny on personal profiles (Swartz, 2013). The way it easily happens, especially as applied domestically, only depicts a future setting for the above episode.
The applicability of digital media and surveillance of social media history has both negative and positive effects to human beings. It all depends on time and different perspectives from person to person. However, it is always expected that the positive effects should outweigh the negative effects; thus, portraying different aspects of digital media in the 21st century as beneficial and important.
American Medical Association. (2015). Human Cloning. Ama-assn.org. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-science/genetics-molecular-medicine/related-policy-topics/stem-cell-research/human-cloning.page?
Gunn, J., & Candelaria, M. (2005). Speculations on speculation. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.
Porter, K. (2012). Effects of Social Media Use on Relationship Satisfaction. Journals.chapman.edu. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://journals.chapman.edu/ojs/index.php/mc/article/viewFile/340/735
Swartz, J. (2013). Tech giants team up in anti-snooping effort. USA TODAY. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/09/google-microsoft-facebook-others-form-reform-government-surveillance-coalition/3914697/