Black Mirror : The moral/satirical point behind "Shut up and Dance"

The moral/satirical point behind "Shut up and Dance"

While overall, I enjoyed the episode and at first I thought it fell short of the mark as I was left a bit confused about what moralistic and satirical message it was attempting to make. After pondering on it, it finally came to me. It's a cautionary tale about not exploiting the internet for your own immoral and selfish means. Let's face it, there's plenty of it going about. Ultimately it's a tool like any other and with any it can be abused. Excellent episode although not entirely original although none the less relevant. Also, the way it pulled the wool over our eyes in terms of where I sympathies should lie and who we were supposed to root for reminded me of White Bear.

It's also reminiscent of The National Anthem as I see a couple of similar parallels. It has a more contemporary setting that exists within reality and there's the whole angle of someone being coerced in to doing something against their will.

Re: The moral/satirical point behind 'Shut up and Dance'

I think most Black Mirror episodes have multiple moral tales to ponder. For this episode, your thought is certainly one thing to ponder. I also felt that it really spoke to the dangers of anonymous mob justice (or Anonymous/LULZSEC justice).

Yes, the characters were morally corrupt and reprehensible. But do they deserve to be tortured to the point that they were? Felony records, murder, and a permanent smearing of their name? Is it justifiable for a small group of people, who aren't accountable to anyone, to make decisions that destroy the lives of others?

Re: The moral/satirical point behind 'Shut up and Dance'


I think most Black Mirror episodes have multiple moral tales to ponder. For this episode, your thought is certainly one thing to ponder. I also felt that it really spoke to the dangers of anonymous mob justice (or Anonymous/LULZSEC justice).

Yes, the characters were morally corrupt and reprehensible. But do they deserve to be tortured to the point that they were? Felony records, murder, and a permanent smearing of their name? Is it justifiable for a small group of people, who aren't accountable to anyone, to make decisions that destroy the lives of others?


It's interesting that you should raise that point and it's a valid one. The reason is that upon watching it, the episode brought to mind the movie Hard Candy which thematically covers the same issue. You've perhaps at least heard of it, and if not then I'd recommend. While not a great movie, it's still above average and while indeed provocative and controversial, like this the movie is about as tastefully done. It's not a particularly bloody or graphic unlike similar movies which have been likened to torture porn. Other similar movies include Phone Booth and to a thematic lesser extent, Falling Down.

The one thing however that Hard Candy does touch upon which this episode and Phone Booth didn't was the potentiality of innocence. Something the TV series Dexter did as well. While people like those depicted in Shut up and Dance are reprehensible there's something dehumanising about someone delighting or taking pleasure in the suffering of others. In certain instances they may have their heart in the right place, however there's the potential chance of someone gaining a taste for sadism to the extent that the pursuit of it takes precedent over their initial goal. They lose sight over why they set out to do what they did in the first place. Ultimately I just see it as an excuse for some people to indulge in the basest form of nihilism and sadistic hedonism. I think it ends up potentially saying more about those who inflict it than the supposedly guilty individual.

Paedophiles/sex offenders disgust me as much as the next person but vigilante justice in this respect can't be condoned. Actually, another two movies that cover social justice are The Purge movies although this occurs on a more widespread and legalised form.

Re: The moral/satirical point behind 'Shut up and Dance'

I'm shocked at the sympathy towards a paedophile. He was eyeing up a child right at the beginning in the restaurant. He deserved everything.

Re: The moral/satirical point behind 'Shut up and Dance'

Nah

Re: The moral/satirical point behind 'Shut up and Dance'


I'm shocked at the sympathy towards a paedophile. He was eyeing up a child right at the beginning in the restaurant. He deserved everything.


I didn't necessarily feel sympathy towards the paedophile, so much as I think vigilante justice can be just an excuse for people to indulge in some form of hedonistic sadism. When I used the word dehumanising, I meant it in regards to the one inflicting the "justice" being dehumanised. When you start taking pleasure in torturing someone you become practically no better than they are. There's in the movie Manhunter which touches upon this slightly when Hannibal Lecter is discussing Will Graham having shot and killed a serial he had been pursuing:

Did you really feel depressed after you shot Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbes to death? l think you probably did. But it wasn't the act that got to you. Didn't you feel so bad, because killing him felt so good?

This is one the flip side of course but here we have a man who has a conscience and feels guilty because he took a human life, even though he had to pretty much for the reasons that are stated. Don't get me wrong, in a split instant like that I can understand why anyone as a decent human being would feel pleasure in killing someone is evil. However, I would find it worrisome if someone didn't feel a touch of guilt for taking pleasure in it. I feel more concern for the vigilante who wouldn't than I would any sympathy for the paedophile which is practically zero. I think vigilante justice can potentially be a slippery slope and shouldn't be condoned for a number of reasons and this episode touched upon it wonderfully.

For me, I would happily see these mongrels thrown in solitary confinement where they were given the cheapest, simplest food and plain water through a hatch and let them rot. That's not taking pleasure in it however, that's just seeing justice done although where the line between the two can quite easily be blurred.
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