A Rhetorical Analysis of Black Mirror: Entertaining Reflections of Digital Technology’s Darker Effects

Alex Boren

Abstract


The recent creation, expansion, and proliferation of digital technologies are changing Western culture. Black Mirror, a British TV show, attempts to make viewers aware of the possible negative effects of people’s obsession with digital technologies. This paper rhetorically analyzes four of the show’s six episodes: The Entire History of You and Be Right Back, which are concerned with how digital technology affects interpersonal relationships; 15 Million Merits and The Waldo Moment, which illustrate how digital technology can be tools for social influence and control. After reviewing pertinent research on digital technology’s negative effects, social media logic, and a critique of the culture industry, the researcher rhetorically analyzes these four episodes to determine how effectively they communicate the creator’s intended message. The first set of episodes demonstrates how using digital technology in certain ways can produce negative effects. Since viewers are more likely to change their usage patterns than stop using technology altogether, this is a more effective rhetorical strategy than critiquing technology in general. The second set of episodes depicts how the culture industry works, including its incorporation of any resistance. Depicting how the culture industry works is the most effective rhetorical strategy given the constraints of being cultural products within the culture industry.

Keywords


Black Mirror; rhetorical analysis; digital technology

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