“Hang the DJ”


In the second Black Mirror played in class, “Hang the DJ” episode touches upon AI dating. It was written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by Tim Van Patten. The episode was inspired by the streaming service Spotify, which Brooker considered a system that gives people “playlists” of relationships. Frank and Amy are brought together and then torn apart by “The System”, which guides them through a series of encounters with potential best matches.

Compared to Spotify or any other playlist apps, it doesn’t provide users the option to “pause” or “skip”, instead an AI assistant arranges everything for the user based on their preferences. On blind dates, couples don’t even need to look at the menu, the assistant will order them food based on their tastes and likes. What’s brilliant about this episode and messed up about the system is that users could be stuck with someone they don’t even like. I think this is a great representation of the dating life in this generation, people would love to try everything, spending countless hours swiping on tinder, falling in and out of love with hopes to find “the one”.

The theme of this episode is our society’s dependence on social media. I believe it is not a question of if we would like to live in a society like this or not, because we are already in it. We can’t deny the fact that we enjoyed the convenience these technologies brought us, push notifications from google map saying it only takes 15 minutes to get to your regular destination because you have been driving home every day at 6 pm when getting off work, and it knows you are going to repeat that today. What’s more, personalized advertisements on Instagram; cookie data collection on every website; social media apps extensively track our actions both online and off.
The show is teaching us when the power goes out on these devices, people are faced with their reflections in a black mirror.Now, is it time for us to hang the DJ?

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Yitong Wang