British television series Black Mirror is a twilight zone for the Twitter generation. Each episode features a dystopian morality play that presents all-too-eerily familiar alternate realities; an elusive warning of what might be on the horizon for modern society.
In the second episode – Fifteen Million Merits – Bingham (Daniel Kaluuya) is living in a future dystopia where workers ride exercise bikes all day to generate a power source for society. The cyclists are paid in merit points, which they then spend on food and other digitized possessions. Their points are also spent to avoid digital advertising which they are subjected to throughout the day. Reality television shows like Hot Shots – a futuristic X-Factor – prevail as an unending source of “entertainment” for the workers.
For fifteen million merits, a worker can audition for Hot Shots, earning a chance at stardom. Bing discovers a coworker singing one morning, Abi (Jessica Brown Findlay). Smitten by Abi's talent, Bing insists that he pay for her to audition.
When Abi is featured on Hot Shots, the guest judges convince her that she is simply too talented, and they instead persuade her to become a celebrity porn star. Heartbroken by Abi's subjection to the manipulative media, Bingham is then forced to watch sexual advertisements featuring his newly enslaved love. Enraged, Bing goes on a nonstop quest to earn another fifteen million merits and land an audition on the show. There, in front of guest judges and the entire society, Bing expresses his outrage over the theft of the only real thing in his life – his love for Abi.
With reality television so prominent in our society, Bing's speech is hauntingly accurate. He says, “The faker the fodder is the more you love it because fake fodder's the only thing that works anymore, fake fodder is all that we can stomach.”
His words are a haunting dose of what is perhaps to come if our society completely surrenders to this “fake fodder.” The episode's conclusion is even more terrifying – no spoilers here – and certainly worth a watch. But the real gem is Daniel Kaluuya’s brilliant portrayal of a hauntingly familiar everyman in this terrifyingly dystopian society.
Some thoughts on art, life, and theatre. Stay positive.