Black Mirror : 15 million merits * Spolets

15 million merits * Spolets

Ok so I finished watching the episode and I really want to like it but there is something I'm definitly not getting or understanding. Where did this take place? It showed small square rooms that they were all housed in. Second what was up with the avatars something I didn't really quite understand either. I think maybe if I understand where this was taking place everything might make more sense but im super confused on what I watched

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

It says on the second episode description for the episode it is in a future society. As for the rooms and such they seem to be in some sort of high tech factory.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

Yeah they seem to have to live in little rooms and they eat in a cafeteria, and ride the bikes. Thats about all we know about these people, who it seems are the "poor" people of the world... or at least of this city/country.

But i was wondering why they stay here and ride bikes? Whats stopping them from running away? I never saw a single guard watching over them, making them ride the bikes and such. No real threat was present.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

I feel like there is a deeper meaning to things in the episode but they aren't explanined. Like why they have to pay a currency to do simple tasks or why they are stuck there.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

I always thought of the bikes as creating energy for the world.

And the reason they don't leave is the same reason lots of people stay in awful sweatshops and things like that. Because they can't ever make enough to get ahead and get out. Sure, they can run. But where would they go?

It's like those people who live in shacks outside Silicon Valley.

I am shocked

I'm a bit shocked to be honest, that you guys don't see what is right in front of you...

> I never saw a single guard watching over them

That was exactly the point of this episode, that they all live like this freely and willingly.

As you know, Black Mirror takes what we have right now and imagines the worst version of it. The interesting thing with this episode is, that it is very close to the reality of a lot of people today.

If you look around, there are a lot of people right now, right here living a live like that:
They live in unpleasant environments.
They go every day to some soulless place, do a tedious, pointless job (the bike exercise).
They spend what little they get, on overpriced, pointless and even unhealthy things.
They look on screens all day, to play pointless games or to "communicate" with people, they almost never see in real life.
They watch shows, where others make fun of people like them. Still, it is the biggest thing for them, to get on a show like this.

They live completely pointless lives and yet they still look down on others (the janitors).

Re: I am shocked

experts you nailed it. I can't believe that people don't see the Parallels with today's society. I loved this episode because it was very dark and very true. People nowadays are enslaved by horrible jobs and debt. The episode displayed a simpler, futuristic portrayal of what's already happening now. Especially the talent show thing, it's very worrying actually.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

The bikes they pedal are creating the energy and they all have to live in those little rooms, void of any outside communication - just the huge TV screens where they have to use their merits purchase shows, when they skip certain "commercials" they are charged penalty points. They use their merits to pay for everything, even a little squeeze of toothpaste.

If they have enough merits, they can "upgrade" their living quarters, however that still doesn't give them a view of the outdoors or more opportunities to interact with others. This is why they have such poor personal interaction skills - their lives are the bikes, the TV screens and the few minutes they get for breaks and even then they rarely interact. The avatars are basically facsimiles of them the "viewing" audience.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

Creating energy for whom? Those TV screens in every room must suck up more than what's created?

Separately: someone mentioned free will vs prison vs whatever, but for all the points they earn, the only tangible thing they buy is food and their apparently banned from keeping any other personal possessions...

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

When Abi was on the game show, the judge mentioned that the spotlight she was standing in was powered by millions of people, so I think the bikes generated power.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

This isn't a prison or a factory, this is life in this future society. It's also a stripped down version of life today. Wake up, work to pay for things, go home, use what you earned to distract yourself, get up and do it all over again.

Come on, Donny, they were threatening castration. Are we gonna split hairs here?

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

Life is pathetically meaningless, and why humans even endure is beyond me.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

This episode, as most of them do, makes me feel incredibly awkward and 'trapped' (which I believe is the best word to describe this entire episode!). This is one of many of the directorial and stylistic choices made by the director and cameraman. Showing as little landscape as possible adds to the claustrophobic nature of the society and the position the characters find themselves in, the mindset of the participants etc. There are MANY style choices made throughout the wntire series and in each episode. The camerawork, POV camera angles and on-screen GUI showing what the characters would see with thieir futuristic contact lenses (although, as Charlie Brooker has done it again - this is something that is actually been invented. The pig-sex scandal sort of happened in the UK with the Prime Minister as well.. lol)

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

The entire episode is about 45 minutes, right? There is barely enough time to show as much as they do. They just could not explain all the details of the society and government and each person's life history.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

There is barely enough time to show as much as they do.

That's the goal of any short-story writing: trim all fat - if it doesn't lend directly to the story (or a character trait) then it doesn't belong.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

My guess is it is something required of all lower class families to send their kids to work here for a certain amount of time, once they hit age 21, as Bing says he inherited his merits from his brother, and to Abi I have never seen you here before, she says she just turned 21. Also everyone seems to be around the same age, guessing no older then 30, minus the judges. Also in White Crhistmas you see a commercial on the TV for Selma, so that shows the whole world isn't like this.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

automation has taken over all menial jobs and their society can't come around to universal income so everyone who is not able to get a job that can't be automated is sent here just so they appear like they are contributing to society.

they don't actually do anything, they don't produce energy, that's a lie they might be told just so they are actually working.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

I recently heard about a theory that everything in the episode 15 million merits takes place in a cookie.It also makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

As in a baked good cookie?? I think you need to elaborate because I don't see how that makes any sense.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

Second what was up with the avatars something I didn't really quite understand either.

Avatars were just a random meaningless thing that they could spent their money on.

Where did this take place?

The episode never tells us. All we know is that it is a futuristic place with cells that people live in. The ending showed us a forest landscape, but theres no guarantee that this was a real view and not another computer image. They could be on the moon or deep underground in some sort of bunker or on a deep space ship.

I think its safe to assume that this location did not actually need them to generate power for it to function. A futuristic place like that with lots of energy wasting technology wouldnt make much sense if it was dependent on keeping everyone cycling. The cycles were either there to distract everyone from some other truth, or they are there to give everyone purpose in an environment where there might not naturally be any.

Re: 15 million merits * Spolets

It feels like much of the apartment housing in Seoul or Tokyo minus any windows!