The whole premise of the British series, Black Mirror, is based on our dysfunctional society due to the increase in technology. In the episode 15,000,000 Merits, we are introduced to a Utopian society where the rich and famous get to create a system (government) in which they profit from, making all the choices for the people to be hooked on in an absent-minded carousel loop. The story goes as people are trapped in a world where they only live indoors, their job is to ride bikes all day (resembling our societal job ethic of working an eight-hour shift) as they earn money- merits- for however long they ride. Never getting a chance to see the outside, LCD screens preoccupy individuals wherever they go- how ironic that when we were all young our parents would tell us that spending many hours on our phones or looking at any screen for a long time was bad for us, now look at us; the only physical items these people get touch are the petri dish grown food, a toothbrush, and their bicycle which they must “pay” for.
It reminded me of the automated bathrooms we have now that the intended purpose was for energy conservation like with the motion sensor lights, sink, hand dryer, and toilet flush. All we need now is the auto wipe! Those in the episode that could escape the oppressive lifestyle are the rich and famous. But the episode doesn’t stop there, the theme of performance rating can be interpreted as judging how someone is doing online, much like now many people obsess over how many likes their picture receives on Facebook and Instagram or how many retweets it received on Twitter. Our main character, Bing, must earn his merits in order to get where he wants to be- like all other characters tried to do to get into the audition- which looked to be a spinoff of American Idol. It causes a competition within the society, instigating frustration and carelessness with each other because only those that look good get picked. Another concurrent theme is extreme surveillance on individuals. When Bing did not want to continue watching a program it cost him some merit, when he hid his eyes behind his hands a red flash would appear alongside a voice that would not silence itself unless his eyes were back on the screen.
He never had a choice due to the system molding every individual to comply the same way. As well as when Abi and Bing were in front of the judges, everyone back in their rooms were watching. This theme also ties with technological enslavement, everyone is a prisoner trapped within the electronic screen walls, the only way out is through passing the judges, which Bing was able to do in a twisted way of him becoming part of the system when giving his speech when threatening to kill himself. Bing was attempting to make a point by going against the system heavily based on consumerism.
Bing would have lost if he took his life because the people would simply move on (much like how our media deals when there is a suicide or large attack on our population), taking the opportunity that the judges offered him ensured wealth and fame in the system. One person can not make a difference by them self. Bing was able to express his honest opinions yet was governed by all those against him.
He stated how all their money was used to create useless merchandise they can not even physically grasp, much like how in our society we work to spend it in items we don’t even mean because we saw it online. All of what we feel, talk, and do is because of the systems manipulation of agenda setting.