Black mirror nosedive episode critical analysis
A Critical Analysis of Black Mirror: Episode “Nosedive”
Many ways can be used to describe a scene from the “Nosedive” episode. In this paper, the analysis will focus on the question: ‘What does it mean that Lacie and Chester are momentarily free when they are locked up in jail and that Lacie can finally scream out words should not before?’ In summary, the society that Lacie Pound lives in is classism, where the socioeconomic status of people is determined by ratings they get from social media. Lacie’s social identity from the beginning is a positive one, and this allows her to afford a better house and an expensive life. She does not seem to lose her positive ratings, but she is aware of her freedom when she is in front of her brother, where she is away from social site demeanors. This episode shows that individuals’ social ratings determine the job they get, where they live, and friends, which boost their self-worth. Lacie has a positive social score, which gives her more upscale living at a better price, and when she gets a negative score, she is ostracized by society. This is what happens when Lacie and Chester feel being momentarily free when they are locked up in jail, and the reason Lacie can scream words she could not before. Therefore, this essay will show that this scene demonstrates that although society Lacie lives in ostracizes individuals that receive low social rankings, they finally feel free from it because they are normal lives.
The director uses a background setting with black and white tones to show how society is harsh in punishing those who do not act accordingly. Arguably, black and white tones are generally used to symbolize coldness that is encapsulated in a scene that helps to convey a negative side of a story (Wright 1:00). These hues were included in the scene to show the audience the coldness that is inside the glass box in which Lacie was jailed. Moreover, the cells are grey, which shows that not everything in the world is good. This color contrast helps extend the theme of the scene, which is how the social media platform alienates those who receive negative ratings from other members. In contrast, people living in a high-class society with five-star ratings have clothes and everything on buildings decorated with light pastel colors. The use of toned-down colors helps to show that everything in this society belongs to high social-status individuals. However, it seems the black and white colors used in the cell scene reflect the reality that the people in the society should embrace (Wright 00:01). This is evidenced by the monotonous colors of black and white that people wear when society is in a gloomy and dark mood. This implies that the pastel color helps to convey the false liveliness, which means that even individuals receiving five-star rankings are not truly happy with their life. To cover this unrealistic life, they put it with a façade, which is symbolized by the pastel colors that are seen at the beginning of the episode. Something noteworthy at the end of the scene where Lacie is locked in a cell is that she seems free (Wright 2:15). Although the dark setting is used to reflect her alienation from the social media society, it helps to bring back the reality about life. The grey coloring on the walls of the cell represents how real life should be for her. The director uses the black and white color setting of the cell to prove that this is the personal appearance of most people, which is the reality that everyone is busy judging on social media. The dark setting shows the freedom free from the distraction in social media where people live in a utopia life.
Another technique used to add a sense of loneliness experienced by Lacie is the echoing of solo violin and essential piano sounds in an empty room, which sets an aloof mood. This episode starts with an “On Reflection” music that seems to match with the pastel color theme of the cell in which Lacie is locked (Wright 1:25). It is as if the music is played to echo the loneliness that Lacie feels after being demoted by receiving low social scores from the social media platform. There is a solo violin that adds a sense of loneliness, reflecting how Lacie and Chester feel in this episode (Wright 1:55). The episode suggests that the two characters have lived in a dystopian world independently with no friends to support them. The effect of this choice of music makes the audience think that when Lacie struggles to make her way to the upscale lifestyle, people only care to down-vote her to ensure she never reaches the destination of her dreams. Notably, Lacie seems to come to contentment while the echoing music is playing to portray that the rating system has had a negative effect on life (Wright 2:00). The music helps to reveal that this is a system where everyone is compelled to behave in a wonderful, smiling, and happy life all the time. However, the audience can see from this scene that Lacie feels she has been living a tyranny of fake joy. Thus, the way to score that dimension is by communicating a sense of darkness that lies underneath the lives of social media members, which are reflected by the loneliness that looms inside Lacie’s cell. The song portrays that the real darkness is behind social media, where people pretend to be nice to each other based on positive ratings they assign through the social media platform. Real-life is about living independently of each other without needing praise from others. This argument is confirmed by the “On Reflection” music that takes on crescendos in the background. This increasing pitch helps to remind the audience of a peaceful beginning that Lacie should embrace away from the artificial society.
In addition to the use of music, symbolism enables the director to show the real-life that Lacie embraces at the end, which is the true liberation of herself in a jail cell. Symbolism is portrayed through the words she screams out towards the end of the episode: “F*** YOU” (Wright 2:15). This is a vulgar word she does not say in public because she knows people may give her negative ratings. However, she speaks these words loudly while in the cell because she can say whatever and act the way she wants. The screams symbolize a sense of freedom and relief that Lacie achieves by abandoning a rating system that forces people to be nice even when that niceness is faked. Moreover, the message of true liberation through the screams is further augmented by the music that highlights the irony with decrescendos (Wright 2:20). This decreasing pitch symbolizes a relief from the reputation-centric society. When Lacie hurls this insult to the man in the other cell, he reciprocates in kind. Although it seems antagonistic at first since the F-word is an expression of vulgarity, it helps express their freedom. The two inmates seem physically confined by their inner selves are built with intensity to show that they have never felt so relieved in their lives.
Using compositional elements such as music, color palette, and symbolism, the director was able to show in the “Nosedive” episode how modern society focuses on reputation-centric thinking. This episode conveys that people are pushed by social media to adhere to the unwritten rules about how they should behave. However, if people continue to follow social media just as revealed in the episode, they will end the same way as Lacie. The scene shows that Lacie lost all the popularity she had because her followers demoted her with low score rankings. People with low social rankings on social media are lonely and more likable than those with high status. However, Lacie learned while in the jail cell that her genuine life was when she was alone. The social ranking did not matter, and she never had the perfect life she experienced when she had many followers. Although the cell is revealed to have dark light and grey walls representing loneliness, this scene stands as the turning point for Lacie. The use of color palette, music, and symbolism helps to show that Lacie discovers she is free from the outside world that fakes happiness by awarding people fabricated reputation.
Wright, Joe. “Nosedive-Cell Scene (Black Mirror).” YouTube, uploaded by ho Yi, 11 Nov 2016.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI53s5fXRtE. Accessed 30 June 2020.