In the ‘Television Delivers People’ video we watched in class it says ‘Commercial television defines the world so as to not upset the status quo’. Being a sociology major this to me is a very neo-marxist idea and is reminiscent of theories championed by the Frankfurt school and later by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. They talk of mass culture being standardised, banal, homogenous and predictable. It is an ideological tool used to promote passivity and stop critical thinking amongst those lower in society. This can be seen in the numerous similar TV shows, especially reality ones, which infiltrate into all aspects of society. The ‘stars’ of these shows are always on the news, on adverts and are often not far from conversation (‘did you see ‘x’ tv show last night?’). This can be dangerous as as a society the people stop thinking for themselves and fill their lives with mindless entertainment instead.

However,  I then began to think about programmes that subvert this idea and one in particular came to mind. There is a UK series called ‘Black Mirror’ by a comedian Charlie Brooker. Each episode he satirises parts of modern culture to an uncomfortable reality. For example there is an episode  called ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ set in a world where each person must cycle every day to gain merits. Advertising is constantly pushed on people, there is a penalty for skipping, and the only way to escape this slave-like world is by entering the talent game show ‘Hot Shots’. My explanation cannot do it justice. This is one of my favourite TV shows and it has just been added to netflix in time for the new season to come out. I urge everyone to watch it.

black-mirror-mike-schur-rashida-jones

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One response »

  1. ddmaoz says:

    I am so happy you mentioned ‘Black Mirror.’
    I agree, I believe this show challenges the status quo and does such a great job of critiquing issues that media technologies can create in society. The show makes its viewers incredibly uncomfortable exactly because the dystopian realities they portray are not far from what is possible. The opening episode of their first season is so disturbing exactly because one gets the feeling that the terrifying plot can unfold in our society today.
    Each episode elicits such a visceral reaction that prompts a profound reflection on the role media has in our lives today. It is quite impressive to have such a strong critique of mass media and media technology be aired by BBC and have a following by millions all around the world (I, for one, was exposed to it in back home in Israel-Palestine, as it was offered for free on V.O.D offerings of a major cable company)…
    I second that – highly recommended!

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