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  • jetkot8 January 2018
    Cycling continuously and earning points was so similar to us being in mundane jobs and accumulating points to pay off our bills. Even when we accumulate enough points and buy the golden ticket; we do not actually get what we were hoping for. We humans have made a viscous circle for ourselves that we can never escape from.
  • I only recently came to Black Mirror and find it fascinating viewing them through the prism of all that's happened in the five years since this first season was produced.

    The structure of this episode feels more like a piece of theatre. The scenarios in which the characters are placed are implausible and don't bear analysis (yes, of course using humans to generate electricity is not efficient) and the supporting characters are deliberately one- dimensional. But that's what makes it so effective.

    Look beyond the obvious and specific commentary it provides on reality TV and body image obsession, and you'll find that what it really exposes is the fundamental futility of our modern consumption-driven existence. Our visceral needs to obtain more drives us to greater debt. Our debt forces us to work, pedalling frantically at life just to keep our heads above water. Like the man relegated to wear yellow and serve as the butt of crass humour, failure to keep up just pushes us onto a downward spiral from which we cannot return. And ultimately the fear of failure, of the oblivion of death, allows us to swallow our moral objections to that life when a path to greater comfort is offered to us.

    And of course, at the end of the day, those in power know how to manipulate our weaknesses. They are caught up in the cycle, trapped themselves. The judges know they have to keep pushing the boundaries to keep people viewing. So their moral compass spins as wildly as our own as they struggle to stay ahead of the pack. In a world bereft of genuine feeling or emotion, what little genuineness exists is itself commoditized. Expressions of individuality, of innovation, become the intellectual property of others, are franchised and end up as dully ubiquitous as what came before.

    But what choice do we have? Can we escape the treadmill? We are not fulfilled, but can we see a viable path to a fulfilling life? Are we better off mindlessly keeping the wheels turning so that the material necessities of life are still provided? Or do we take the risk and break out? Is there even anything outside the treadmill? Can we live outside of the economy that imprisons us? Is death really our only escape?

    Or should we just resign ourselves to it? Become like the crass, mindless idiot who laughs along with the spoon-fed televisual mush? Can we suppress thoughts of betterment and make our lives tolerable by giving in to conformity? Can we let "I really had no choice" become a valid defence for our inhuman actions?
  • SPOILER: The real genius of this story wasn't so much the setting, or even most of the plot. The dystopian future this is taking place in with two modes of life - underground, in a sort of indentured servitude, or in the penthouses with a view - isn't all that original either. What i loved about this episode was the ending. It wasn't a dramatic ending. It wasn't a happy ending. It was a depressing ending. The protagonist starts out with morals and a stand to take and ends up consumed by the consumerism he makes money off of. Its disconcerting most of all because i think it rings true. And it's creepy how true the entire setting seems.
  • Let me be honest: This is my first episode of Black Mirror, which is a show I've always heard is good, but never got to confirm for myself until now. What made me want to watch this specific episode is not the main character's actor, who has since gone on to star in this year's mega-hit 'Get Out', but it's premise alone. A world where people help power their isolated world by exercising, while those not fit enough become janitors who are often mistreated and mocked or the butt of a joke. It's shocking in it's themes, but not in a way that makes me want to puke.

    To put it lightly, this episode displays why I now like this series: it's gut wrenching, horrifying, and shocking, but not in the conventional way of displaying horrific visuals meant to make you cringe. Instead, Black Mirror manages to get all 3 of these across the board with it's honest, tight, and brilliantly told messages about the many ways society could connect with technology... and let me tell you, none of them are really 'good'. This specific episode I've chosen to review is something that starts out subtle, and only goes downhill as the episode progresses. I'm not going to say anything about this episode other than how much it got to me, because it really is one you're better left seeing without too much knowledge about it. Many of the characters I found interesting, even some minor ones. They're relatable in ways that everyone can agree with, and the dialog plus the overall story is sharply written to a point that made the 1 hour I spent watching it feel like nothing.

    If you're looking into Black Mirror as a potential series to binge, know that it's not for everyone. It's shocking and emotional in many unconventional ways, and almost always has a statement to make, so if that sounds good, then shoot for it. Just thinking of this episode makes me want to watch the other episodes.
  • planetShhhh12 December 2011
    Firstly if you want to ingest something that validates your life, that confirms everything you already believe in or something that makes you feel comforted, loved or thrilled then you probably need to go away and look in the (black?) mirror.

    It manages to be upsetting, tedious and poignant and necessarily so. Also add intriguing.

    Unfortunately judging by outbursts on Tw*tter (its a love/hate relationship) it seems many people are reacting in a similar way to one of the more remedial characters in this work of genius.

    Watch this then turn of your TV for a while and read. Society depends on it.
  • TheInbetweener11 December 2011
    Whatever it was, it nearly made me suffocate with holding my breath.

    You know that feeling you get, that almost nausea, that exhilarating terror when you take the plunge over a roller-coaster loop, that feeling of stretching out a finger to barely touch something transcendental, that white blank feeling you get when you've hit ground zero and the truth is there, almost there...

    No?

    I've had that feeling before. I almost can't quite remember when, just that the enormity of feeling something like that couldn't possibly be contained in a memory.

    This makes no sense, does it?

    I don't know - but tell me you didn't feel something rare when you watched Bing nearly commit cultural, political and physical suicide on that stage. I've never seen anything that's managed to depress and stimulate me at once. I've never seen anything that raw and human. Not for a long time.

    Watch it?

    And transcribe the end speech. I would have that tattOOED.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A Mirror Darkly 15 Million Merits is almost an adaption of 1984, the world which is depicts is one of stark and total sensual deprivation, where people literally live though their social networks, there isn't money, there isn't reality, there are the confines of you room, and where you work. But even in this hollow reality there are the Telescreens constantly crying for your attention, to the point of being the wholeness of your personal life.

    This episode is not only a rebellion against the puerility, of reality television and the way it distracts from what is important in life, like the week of hate in 1984; it rallies the mob to a cause that is ultimately insignificant but encourages an almost self-fulfilling prophecy or purpose, it doesn't matter what is shown, or who it is, if it is real or not, but the mind has moved to a point of total deprivation of thought. The mind of these characters has become dead, uniqueness is something expressed though the hair of an avatar, it does as it is instructed, it thinks what it is told to think. In the world of 15 Million Metris, Sex and Horror are the new gods there is no morality it has all been digitized away by screaming avatars mimicking life with glassy eyed insincerity of a black mirror.

    This episode if a brilliant indictment of not only the people that watch reality television and those that don't but the life it creates around it, the constant buzz between horror and sex. Ala Cheryl Cole being a role model for young women, while she prostitutes herself at HMV on posters where she kneels on all fours looking up at you, no different to the constant stream of pornography shown in this episode. This instalment is about indifference breading contempt for morality and life and that innocence is something to be cherish not sold, where it becomes cold and twisted, a broken Hallelujah.

    "To predict the behaviour of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence." Friedrich Nietzsche

    • Just watch it
  • This episode tore my heart out and stomped on it for good measure. Whereas Black Mirror's first episode was more darkly comic in tone (disturbing nonetheless), this was an utterly bleak excursion into the realms of reality television and our consumerist culture. Oh and a beautiful love story to boot. But if you think this love story is bound for a happy ending, you haven't watched Black Mirror before.

    Although a touch heavy handed in its message, its themes still ring painfully true. It looks with disdain upon our symbiotic relationship with reality television, and how anything of purity, authenticity, and honest beauty will inevitably become corrupted and filtered down to a 'lowest common denominator' level of entertainment to feed the willing masses.

    Its simply a powerful yet utterly bleak hour of brilliant thought provoking television.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watch many movies from many different genres,so when I saw this I was intrigued. So I began this episode and watched as a future which does not seem that far fetched loomed onto the screen. We see a future where if you do not watch the screen then you are inundated with this screeching siren of a noise. Then your eyes open and it stops while you are in a tiny prison riding a bicycle for power while sitting next to people that you would never ordinarily socialize with. Yet this is what you see and a screen so your avatar can buy accoutrements to make it look more unique. Yet you physically remain on a bicycle watching television until seemingly your eyes would bleed.

    Then you watch as this relationship develops and in it's simplicity and fragile nature it is beautiful actually. In a world where there seemed to be little lingering spirituality or soul there came a voice and he heard it and fell in love. Possibly for the first time. He saw another being and loved and suddenly. So to inspire others and to get her out of prison he was willing to allow himself to remain in his prison to give her wings to fly.

    Then well you can watch what they do to her a little later however he gains a determination and a care for nothing anymore and goes on that stage raw and spectacularly displays the rage for the whole population of the slaves on bicycles.

    Within those few minutes i witnessed more talent coming from Daniel Kaluuya than I have in a very long time from Hollywood. His heart was right there screaming those lines as if it were the last thing ever performed. I was absolutely stunned watching him act.

    This show is worth every second. Go watch it now and ask yourself what are you doing to possibly contribute to a world such as this? What could you change to help avoid or at least not contribute to this and do it.
  • As the first season of Black Mirror progresses (only being 3 episodes long), I personally find it to explore deeper subject matter. "Fifteen Million Merits" simply affects me as a person a lot more than the previous episode "The National Anthem," which contained more shock value than anything as far as I saw it.

    "Fifteen Million Merits" takes place in a futuristic "digital utopia" (saw that description elsewhere, and I liked it... though I would personally view it as a "waking nightmare.") This world that doesn't resemble ours upon sight, but seems to represent it in every metaphorical way possible. The protagonist contains pure values that no one else around him seems to have, until he meets a woman singing a beautiful song. There is love there, and a yearning for something greater than than the slave-like existences they are currently living, riding on hamster wheels, for what seems to be no purpose.

    In typical Black Mirror style, the dark, apathetic, and indifferent aspects of human nature are there to see in all their glory. There is a speech given by the protagonist toward the end that cuts to my core as much as anything could, highlighting pretty much all of the things that I myself have come to despise about our society. I have known people who have watched this and thought it was boring, so I am forced to believe this isn't for everyone. But, for those of you who question authority, spend any time thinking outside of your little bubble, and strive to be more than a "rat in a cage," well then my friend, this episode is for you.

    Aside from all of the wonderful messages, it also layers on top all of the visual details that make this digital world so unique, much of which is reminiscent, but still very different from our world today. The innovation of the details is so terrific, that I was truly blown away. The only reason this one falls 1 star short of perfection is there is a slight lull throughout. Once it kicks off, it's all systems go... but perhaps 5 mins or so could have been shaved off? A lot of time that many would find unnecessary is spent setting up the world to get you used to it, and become immersed in it.

    All-in-all, this is a wonderful episodes that absolutely hits the nail on the head of channeling the reality TV watching, short attention span nature of today's modern culture... and gives us a rather dark glimpse at what could be if we continue down this moral-craved path.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This week's Black Mirror is, again, brilliant. Epicurus would have approved of the mirror it holds to modern corruption.

    Perfectly portrayed parody, portraying the pustulating, pestilential, purgatory of perpetual, pervasive, plebvision puerility - pandering, pathetically, to perverse passions - producing pure pornography *.

    A dystopian present all too real to some already. The only real objection that I have to my iPad is that it makes it more difficult to turn off the advertisements - no doubt, as 15 Million Merits so marvelously makes clear, the intention is to make them compulsory.

    If the writers of Black Mirror aren't on my exact wavelength, they're certainly absolutely in phase with my prejudices.

    ['pornography' is, originally, defined by the authors, not the subject matter]
  • This story is called "Fifteen Million Merits", it's an alternative world in which people ride cycles to gather credits, to buy items for their avatars, to buy sustenance, and basic needs. It's a world where each individual is forced to watch commercials or pay fees to mute or get rid of them. What might seem like a digital utopia to some, turns into a hell for others.

    Bing is an innocent soul who falls in love, and wishes for his love to succeed. He spends 15 million credits to help his love to get a chance of a lifetime. Unbeknownst to him (and the rest of the world), contestants are drugged to do whatever the leaders tell them to do on a grimy sleazy talent show.

    What happens next might shock, it might surprise, but it definitely will amaze you to see that this alternative universe isn't that far off from our world today... or what it could be tomorrow.
  • First of all good job to Daniel Kaluuya who plays as Bing. Decent acting and what a anger this guy had. It's about a 20 something boy trapped in the media world along with others, cycling their way out (or something like that)

    I think this is a heavy, negative episode and somehow makes you think about today's technology and to be honest, there is some truth in it. Excellent but somehow disturbing satire and wanted that it would end differently. I wish that Bing actually killed those judges but he sold his 'soul' for more space in this media world.

    I think you should give it a chance and watch it
  • Warning: Spoilers
    TL;DR: The bicycles are a sham and are just there to keep the Greys under control.

    When I watched it, my thoughts immediately jumped to why the Greys were living like this. So this is all speculative, it's bullshit that isn't in the actual episode, it's just a hypothesis about where the story was coming from.

    I noticed that the Greys never saw anyone far above their social class. They see entertainers, which are there to appease the Greys and provide an inspirational goal, but the only people we see who are actually up and outside the terrible Grey situation are the three Hot Shot judges, and maybe the host of the food show. These are the only four exploiters we see. Everyone else is exploited, controlled, crushed, wrung-out, dehumanized.

    What do you do with people when AI leads to consolidation of wealth into a small number of hands, and everyone else is unemployed? The humane thing to do would be to encourage self-expression, creativity, leisure. Institute a basic income. The inhumane thing to do would be to let capitalism take its course and give the mass of people terrible pointless jobs so the few in power feel better about doling out welfare support. How to accomplish this?

    Give them jobs that physically exhaust them, in an environment that completely controls them mentally and physically. Destroys their will to create, to help each other, to form relationships (which also reduces population growth in the underclass). Give them an untouchable social class to deride and fear. Give them exactly one way to rise above their current absolutely terrible circumstances into a carefully crafted slightly less terrible circumstance (and becoming an entertainer just reinforces the whole system). Provide the minimum variety of necessities and entertainments. What level of public education is necessary for the Greys and the Yellows?

    The focal point of the whole Grey existence is their bicycles. But the screens take energy, the user sensors, the lighting, etc. Stationary bicycles are not very good electricity generators, and it seems like one of them would hardly be able to generate enough to cover the bicyclist's share of electricity usage. The electricity produced is secondary to the other subjugation benefits of the bicycle facility. They might not even be hooked up.

    We didn't even see security guards in the bicycle facility. What would happen if one of the Greys convinced their bicycle block to participate in a stretching class, or hoard apple wrappers for origami, or refill drink containers instead of buying new water? I think the answer is that nobody would ever do those things. The dehumanization destroys almost everyone, and the few who aren't destroyed will probably become entertainers and leave the bicycle prisons that way. In any case, nobody remains who will rock the boat.
  • mi_hau941 January 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is probably the best episode of anything ever. Keep in mind that this review contains spoilers and is heavily biased - I'm simply giving my own interpretation of what is happening. In my opinion, this episode is the largest "f*ck you" to the elites in this world.

    Commercialism:

    As seen in the episode, people are trapped within this huge building where they are forced to watch mind numbing media approved (and actually commended) by the authorities - whoever they are. If they don't, they are punished by listening to an increasingly intense beeping sound which frankly becomes unbearable. So you have to resume viewing, and in order to skip adds you have to pay credits. In some ways this is were our society is heading although of course in a minor scale, because the sound in adds are always amplified and some are almost impossible to skip even with add blockers. Take Spotify adds as an example, you cannot even turn down the volume during an add because then it pauses and you actually have to pay in order for the adds to go away! We are constantly bombarded with "shit we don't need", as Bing so powerfully states towards the end.

    Objectification:

    Women and their bodies are always put in commercials because it will sell products because of the nature of men. Trust me, I do not claim that there is anything wrong with appreciating a female body - it is probably the most beautiful thing I know of. But this is not portrayed at all in this world, all we see is how much we want to f*ck them but we are steered from seeing the person as a whole. And it's not even our fault, this is simply how the market is. But it's sad, because as we saw with Abi she had real talent - she could sing decently. However, that wouldn't sell, so she had to put in something extra - namely her body. This also brings up another problem which is that many women are sort of or fully forced into selling their bodies in order for them to get famous or to get a decent amount of money to survive. To me it's obvious, just look at how many models there are. Again, I think this is a reminder to us that we need to see women for more than just their bodies as portrayed in the media, and we need to stop people who enforce them to "sell" their bodies.

    Controlled opposition:

    Probably the most devastating point in this whole episode. When Bing finally gets on the stage after saving up credits for a few months, he explodes and states the obvious. His speech is one of the best I've heard, and it's so real and true. I think this was a solid "f*ck you" to the elite from the creators of this episode. We are enslaved to work "doing what, powering what?" The bikes are what we do every day, we work to hold up this disgusting society, but where does it lead us? Why are we doing it? So the elites can end up with more money and power? What if the elites knew exactly what was going on - as the judging panel obviously did - and they tried to control the opposition against them. One example comes to mind: Alex Jones. This is of course a lot of speculation, but many people believe he is controlled by the Zionists. After all, he blames every problem on these "globalists", but he will NEVER talk about them. He will never specifically state the names of these globalists, and definitely does not admit that Zionists are the problem. There is even an interview where the guest talks about this, and it is completely removed from his channel - he won't re-upload it. This is Bing. Whether you believe Alex Jones is right or wrong, Bing is a representation of such controlled opposition. Bing gets to stream and speak out against the elites, but only according to their scheme. In return, he gets a top floor with view over the forest which is where the episode beautifully ends. This is a call that all we need is to connect with nature again, this is what truly matters. How we can do it, I don't know. But I believe that there is a cognitive revolution going on right now.
  • fskea9 February 2019
    Watching all black mirror again . Not sure why this one is so highly rated . There is obviously a message to it but it's slow to start and I got bored 3 times watching it .acting is superb though
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of the most powerful hours of entertainment you'll ever watch. The symbolism to our society is almost scary if you're willing to look past the surface. Whether its making the citizens pedal the bikes to keep the building running for the benefits of the upper class. Then are paid with just enough to buy cheap food and things that don't matter but keep them busy til the next time they pedal. Also turning a truly talented singer into a sex symbol like we've seen so many times to our stars. and there's much deeper meanings then those. Every Black Mirror episode is genius in its own right, but in my opinion, this one takes the cake.

    Its a MUST WATCH
  • laqtousofborg1 February 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Simply one of the best hours of science fiction I've ever seen. Despite some missteps in the characters of the obnoxious man on the bike and the Simon Cowell-esque judge, who both come off as caricatures, the romance between the two protagonists manages to humanize them both despite them being given fairly little dialogue. It manages to be deep, sarcastic, and unmistakably human all at once. It manages to make me think about the nature of reality TV, the influence of the media and pornography, and consumer culture while at the same time creating interesting and human characters. Like any good piece of fiction, it is difficult to dissect exactly what makes it work so well. The acting adds significantly to the atmosphere. The likability of Abi and Bing make Abi's ultimate fate all the more painful to watch. Bing's rage and passion really drive the point home, and his speech rings all too true to us in the 21st century. His capitulation to the judges' demands serves as a clever, if bleak criticism of our society. I've found myself unable to stop thinking about it, making it one of those rare hours of television you can't help but watch over and over again.
  • This episode hit me as surreal and too real at the same time.. Sad, depressing, scary and yet leaving you with a cold emptiness at the end.. Somehow, the system finds a way to even use hope or rebellion as consumerist material and thus the threat of a society without a real soul becomes even greater than the substitution of our real world with a virtual one.. Great episode!
  • First of all, I will freely concede that the visuals of this episode look great. Overall I am still not impressed. I was told that this was supposed to be one of the best episodes. My main two objections are as follows. It moves way too slowly. There is lots of dull drawn out mundane and unnecessary parts. You could cut at least 15 - 20 mins and lose nothing significant. My larger objection is that the concepts and metaphors are not nearly as grand and intelligent as the critics seem to think. We are becoming slaves to technology... really? is that your high minded and profound social and political message? In some sense I do agree, but, this is not the cutting edge and brilliant art I was told to expect. I'm giving this show one more episode. If that does not impress me I am done. So far I think Black Mirror is completely overrated.
  • Bing is trapped in a system with a majority of the population who ride a stationary bike for Merits. The Merits they receive from cycling are spent on everything they do. Life is controlled by interactive screens and the media.

    A new girl, Abi Khan, catches Bing's eye and he hears her sing. They become friends and he spends 15 million Merits to buy her a ticket to a singing competition called Hot Shot. She sings beautifully in front of the judges, but they sexually harass her and give her the option of going on Wraith Babes or riding the bikes.

    Daniel Kaluuya's performance is incredible to say the least. He's a very relatable and likable from the start. His character has a deeper understanding of what's going on compared to the people around him, who blindly go along with it. He stays quiet in the beginning, but his monologue will shake you to the core.

    The cycling represents the 9-5 jobs of the middle class, doing what you have to do in order to get by. Hot Shot allows those middle class people to have their 15 minutes of fame. Similar American Idol or The X-Factor, the judges can turn them into stars or ridicule them for the public's entertainment. Beautiful people are sexualized, overweight people are humiliated and everyone else gets to watch for their own enjoyment.

    This episode is what Black Mirror is known for. Futuristic societies and technology so advanced that people become absorbed in a fabricated world. One person's happiness is another person's misery. It's very disturbing yet the payoff is satisfying. It's easily the best episode of Season 1 and one of the best episodes of Black Mirror.

    10/10
  • This episode is very dark, and emotionally effective, but it's incredibly well done and engaging throughout.

    The acting is good, the script is amazing, the effects are decent, and the whole thing comes together very well.

    It's depressing, and affects you strongly, but it's still worth seeing.
  • Do you ever feel confused, static in a moment, knowing that something is not right? What do you do then? A difficult question, and one which if answered is perhaps a false answer we tell ourselves, and fool ourselves with to escape that deep nagging feeling of emptiness, of something being not quite right. You will get a lot or that watching Black Mirror.

    This episode rings true on so many of our deep fears, gut-wrenching suspicions. Is what you feel real? Does the world care about it? How are you part of that world? This episode depicts a reality born and evolved from the consumerist, capitalist and materialistic society we are increasingly moving towards where what sells is important, and those who can sell are important and run the show. All the rest of average people are just meat running the factory to keep this consumerist world going. This is not a fair world. This is not a world where everyone is born equal and has equal opportunity. This is a world running on the principles of demand and supply. If your skill, no matter how beneficial, how valuable, is in less demand by the stupid people that populate the world, you will lag behind chasing tails of others less deserving than you. You would be forced to give up on your dreams and chase the dreams and goals of other people assimilating in the system you hate and becoming part of it.

    You will not feel happy after seeing this show, but maybe you will ask yourself some questions which will define the course your life takes, and due to it the world takes.
  • Same idea we've seen on other shows miilion times before. They didn't even do it well and the episode was way too long.
  • A perfectly self sufficient story that captures humans in their most stuck and vulnerable trying to escape. The performances are spot on and it's relevant a decade ago as it is now.
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