The Digital Dystopias of Black Mirror and Electric Dreams

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About the Book

This critical examination of two dystopian television series—Black Mirror and Electric Dreams—focuses on pop culture depictions of technology and its impact on human existence. Representations of a wide range of modern and futuristic technologies are explored, from early portrayals of artificial intelligence (Rossum’s Universal Robots, 1921) to digital consciousness transference as envisioned in Black Mirror’s “San Junipero.”
These representations reflect societal anxieties about unfettered technological development and how a world infused with invasive artificial intelligence might redefine life and death, power and control. The impact of social media platforms is considered in the contexts of modern-day communication and political manipulation.

About the Author(s)

Steven Keslowitz is the author of four previous books and several law review articles exploring the intersection of law, media and popular culture. His writings have focused on topics such as The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, 24, methods of communication in the legal field, terrorism and the Holocaust. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he practices intellectual property and technology law. For more information, visit www.stevenkeslowitz.com.

Bibliographic Details

Steven Keslowitz
Foreword by Marshall Julius

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 303
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7868-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3759-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Marshall Julius 1
Introduction: Using Pop Culture as a Lens to Understand Our Technology-Obsessed World 5
1. Reflections Through a Black Mirror 11
2. Technology and Political Manipulation: An Examination of “The Waldo Moment” and “Safe and Sound” 41
3. Rate Me, Like Me, Follow Me, Control Me, Love Me, Kill Me: A Dystopian Guide to Social Media and Online Dating 73
4. Privacy and ­Security-Related Considerations in a Hyper-Techno World 97
5. Alternate Realities, Digital Clones and the Meaning and Value of Life 139
6. Dreading a ­Post-Apocalyptic Future: From “Metalhead” to “Autofac” and Beyond 190
Conclusion: Waking Up from an Electric Dream 216
Appendix A: Black Mirror and Electric Dreams Episode Lists 223
Appendix B: Television and Film Sources 225
Chapter Notes 235
Bibliography 275
Index 291

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Digital Dystopias is a statement of warning, as many of us abandon ourselves to the conveniences provided by digital technology. At the same time, readers will find pleasure in discovering parallels between dystopian fiction and social reality. A fun read, with Keslowitz’s tone being neither pessimist nor cynical. Pandora’s box has been opened, he suggests; now it is on us to define the terms under which we want to live with, not under, technology. Let’s face it! Let’s face the future!”—Moritz Fink, author of The Simpsons: A Cultural History
  • “You’ve been watching Black Mirror, You, The Simpsons, and The Office because they’re entertaining television shows. As Steven Keslowitz’s The Digital Dystopias of Black Mirror and Electric Dreams examines these shows and many other TV series and movies also provide important insights into how various technologies–from webcams and cell phones to dating apps and data security–are impacting our relationships, our jobs, our health, and our privacy, for better and, often, for frighteningly worse. So put down your iPhone and read this thoughtful book…unless, of course, that’s where you’re reading it.”—Kimberly Potts, author of The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch