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Sociological Analysis of Nosedive: “Black Mirror” by Brooker

Introduction

In the past few decades, media was the source of shaping people’s opinions and the broadcaster of fundamental thoughts, ideas, and messages. The advent of television programs, radio, or social media has changed the perception of such messages, whether they are open or hidden, that sometimes cannot be easily analyzed. People are not prone to reflecting upon these meanings, or hear them unconsciously, or even becoming part of mass production.

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Such an audience is considered to be passive, i.e., they absorb the material presented by the media. The primary purpose of the mass media is to notify the public about the problems in social contexts and encourage them to perceive and analyze the issues to be socially aware. Therefore, any film, book, or TV series episode can be viewed from the sociological perspective to point out acute problems society faces. The purpose of this paper is to dissect the episode of a famous British TV series Black Mirror and extract the problems it communicates.

TV Series Background

The author and humorist Charlie Brooker elaborated British TV series Black Mirror (2011-present). Most of the episodes focus on human life dominated by futuristic technologies and try to warn the spectators about the abuse of such inventions that may be just around the corner. Thus, sometimes satirical and even dark themes are broadcasted to address the consequence of relations between society and media use.

One of the crucial episodes dedicated to the overuse of technology is named Nosedive, released in 2016. Nosedive depicts a speculatively dystopian world where human actions are rated by others through the application that shapes individual societal and economic status. The images of a peaceful and quiet neighborhood open the episode, which narrates the story of a young career-orientated woman, Lacie Pound. Despite living in a decent house, she aspires to acquire a luxurious apartment. However, her rating is not high enough to afford such an apartment, so she uploads sentimental pictures on her profile and gets rated by her childhood friend Naomi who has a higher rank on the platform. Later, Naomi invites Lacie to the wedding as a maid of honor, so Lacie expects the guests to enhance her rating.

Unfavorably, some mishaps occurred on her way, lowering her rating, and forcing her to hitchhike with a middle-aged woman Susan, who admitted to feeling better not being obsessed with grades. Naomi told Lacie not to come as her presence would reduce others’ ranks. Despite having been warned, she sneaked to the reception and gave an appalling speech shocking everyone around and causing her rating to drop to the lowest. As fate would have it, she ends up in prison, realizing that from then on, she was free from ratings and opinions.

Sociological Analysis

This analysis aims to examine fundamental sociological concepts (status, socialization, elites, socioeconomic identity, etc.) that can apply to the review of a movie, book, or TV series. This evaluation is supposed to identify the latent content of the episode and unveil sociological issues raised in Nosedive.

First and foremost, there is a need to mention how Nosedive translates a curious outlook on social and socioeconomic identities. The main character’s social status is represented as positive due to the central character Lacie’s favorable demeanor towards everyone around. She only gives herself a slack in front of her brother who does not care about social status. The social rating determines everything: the job, the place where one lives, friends, surroundings – the higher the score, the more powerful one becomes. Generally, if one is adored and respected by many, it gives them a boost in life, better opportunities of rising a career, or a more upscale dwelling. Lacie’s brother is on the opposite side of this unimpeachably perfect society – he lives irrespectively of social media assessment, and such people automatically become outcasts.

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The episode precisely depicts the world run by social media and the superficiality of people’s perceptions of one another. Even though society encourages such virtues as courtesy and benevolence, it promotes spurious expectations. According to Yazdizadeh (2019), Nosedive communicates the concept of hyperreality that reflects how a set of ideal images creates a perceptible world and deprecates self-identity. However, not each member of this pastel world devoid of life substance owns an immaculate social media profile; therefore, they do not succeed. The people are still prone to thinking that the system is a fantastic solution to establishing stability within society. It is only a matter of how well they play their roles to fit in the surroundings.

Undoubtedly, the concept of self-identity and self-presentation is also structurally viewed through the influence of social media. The center of the episode is the quantified self, which logically implies that only numbers define a person but not their qualities and talents (McSweeney & Joy, 2019). Therefore, people may lose self-identity and follow the crowd or do what others like. For instance, when Lacie was sipping her coffee in a high-class cafeteria populated with citizens, she considered it necessary to post a picture of it on her profile. Even though the coffee tasted bland, she knew that posting something cute would elevate her rating. However, Lacie only tried to create such an image or the so-called simulacrum to blend into the high-class society, thus abandoning her real self.

There is another notable point Nosedive makes the spectator reflect upon – the role of the elite layer within the community. There is a distinct differentiation between the ones whose rating is close to 5 and the ones with the average score. McSweeney and Joy noted that the elite class of the society ultimately affects the rest as they predetermine their social and economic status by grading those (2019). A vivid example of such influence may be observed when Lacie was trying to seize the opportunity of enhancing her rating by attending her influential friend’s wedding. There she expected to get graded by elites of the society to afford a better life, which describes how those authoritative people dominate.

Conclusion

To conclude, it is necessary to mention that all the abovementioned problems raised in the episode of Black Mirror help to understand that social media can be a frustrating tool. Thus, social media is not an identifier of who we are, and it should neither affect people’s social nor economic status. In Lacie’s case, social media was equal to imprisonment, and her only way to freedom was through the sentence.

References

McSweeney, T., & Joy, S. (Eds.). (2019). Through the Black Mirror. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Yazdizadeh, A. (2019). In and out of the Black Mirror; an ideological investigation into ‘Nosedive’. A Journal of Historical & Cultural Studies, 25(1), 16-28.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 22). Sociological Analysis of Nosedive: “Black Mirror” by Brooker. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/sociological-analysis-of-nosedive-black-mirror-by-brooker/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 22). Sociological Analysis of Nosedive: “Black Mirror” by Brooker. https://studycorgi.com/sociological-analysis-of-nosedive-black-mirror-by-brooker/

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StudyCorgi. "Sociological Analysis of Nosedive: “Black Mirror” by Brooker." May 22, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/sociological-analysis-of-nosedive-black-mirror-by-brooker/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Sociological Analysis of Nosedive: “Black Mirror” by Brooker." May 22, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/sociological-analysis-of-nosedive-black-mirror-by-brooker/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Sociological Analysis of Nosedive: “Black Mirror” by Brooker'. 22 May.

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