Finding My Reflection in Darkness: An Exploration of Memory in Black Mirror Open Access

Beaird, Abigail (Spring 2022)

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In this thesis, I address how memory plays a role in not only life, but also in the grieving process following death. Through an in-depth analysis of two episodes of the hit Netflix anthology Black Mirror, I explore how technology can interrupt, and ultimately manipulate, the process of grief to the point madness. In “The Entire History of You,” I explore how the grain technology leads the main character, Liam Foxwell, to obsess over his memory, ultimately resulting in the loss of his wife and daughter. In “Be Right Back,” I consider how the role of a humanoid robot stunts the forward progress of the main character, Martha, following the death of her husband. I utilize the two disciplines of film and philosophy to analyze these episodes in sufficient depth. I anecdotally integrate my personal experience with grief, following my father’s death, to strengthen the reader’s understanding of the episodes. Black Mirror often attempts to “solve” the grieving process using sophisticated technology, I argue that this process is one that should not, and need not, be solved. The anthology attempts to warn us of the potential risks, and pitfalls, of the overuse of technology. Black Mirror urges us to appreciate the imperfections that contribute to memory and humanity while we remain conscious as we will eventually fade into darkness, reduced to nothing more than a figment of the past.

Table of Contents

Introduction … 1

Chapter One: “The Entire History of You”: Memory & Obsession … 7

           Replay … 8

           Rewind … 10

           Pause … 14

           Reflections … 17

           Blurry Vision … 19

           Father’s Daughter … 22

Chapter Two: “Be Right Back”: Memory & Grief … 25

           Final Wishes … 28

           In the Details … 32

           Not Enough … 34

           On Edge … 38

           After … 42

Conclusion … 45

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