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#sowhoknew: ‘Black Mirror’ is back with more cautionary tales about your smartphone

The Netflix smash ‘Black Mirror’ is about to return for a fourth season with all new scary stories about your smartphone. Online dating, reconstructing a life based solely on your social presence and the powerful effect that ‘likes’ can have on society are given the full dystopian Charlie Brooker treatment.

Earlier this year I wrote an article about the perils of social media outlined in the first 3 series of Black Mirror. I talked about how the series highlighted the nightmarish potential that our smartphones have when taken to the extreme. Hashtags that can literally kill people, how rating human beings (just like a hotel on TripAdvisor) can have catastrophic effects on an individual and the chilling prospect of bringing back a loved one from the dead using algorithms based on their social media habits.

The new anthology picks up where the previous series left off with more techno-based horror themed episodes including;

Crocodile – set against the bleak backdrop of Iceland, this episode explores a future that clearly hasn’t heard of GDPR and privacy no longer exists – including your memories which can be data mined by others. The story revolves around the main character trying to understand the circumstances surrounding a car crash with the help of a memory-extracting machine. It has been trailered with the intriguing line: “Memories can be subjective”

Arkangel – directed by none other than Hollywood royalty Jodie Foster, this episode delves into the sensitive topic of how parents allow their children to use technology and the negative outcomes of helicopter parenting. An over protective mother decides to have surveillance software implanted into the brain of her young daughter with disastrous consequences…

Hang The DJ – in a time poor future World, online dating apps put a 12 hour limit on finding love. Now that’s what I call an expiration date (see what I did there?!). Brooker playfully explains the concept: “It’s Spotify for relationships. If you can imagine a service that gives you a playlist of all the relationships you’re going to have in your life. It takes the guesswork out of the romance.”

USS Callister – from the stills, this looks exactly like a Star Trek parody. It’s seemingly a real departure from any other previous Black Mirror episode although some references have been made to San Junipero from S3. Brooker has described Callister as “very dark in places and it’s got moments of comedy that you maybe wouldn’t have expected a few years ago from Black Mirror.” There are already whispers that this could be the season highlight and may well be a potential award winner.

Metalhead – sketchy details on the subject matter for this one. The only things we really know about this episode is that it is filmed in monochrome, it has a robot dog in it and it’s the shortest episode in the entire series. Brooker says it is “quick and primal”.

Black Museum – a 90 minute season closer which is apparently three stories in one and has been described by the producers as “pure popcorn”. Only scant details have been released but given the clues in the trailer (like the balaclava from Season 2 episode ‘White Bear’) it looks like it’s a ‘House of Horrors’ style crime museum but with a nasty twist related to cloning.

The new series drops on the 29th December and, as if that weren’t enough, the first ‘Black Mirror’ book is scheduled for release in early 2018 and from what I can gather it’s all new stories. I can’t wait for that either.

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.