‘Black Mirror’ season 3 confronts us with life’s important questions

Are you ready to question your own ethics?

1:00 pm EST, February 17, 2017

It’s been almost two years since the last Black Mirror episode, but thanks to Netflix, we’ve been gifted six more television think-pieces.

Black Mirror season 3 twisted our perceptions of truth, right and wrong, and forces us to look inward and consider our own actions. In each episode we’re presented with contentious topics that leave us with questions we can’t easily answer.

This article contains spoilers for season 3 of Black Mirror.

‘Nosedive’

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Synopsis: It’s Instalife! In the “Nosedive” world, the population has an online profile, similar to an Instagram profile, in which everyone has a score out of five. Ratings are given by other people, based on interactions as minimal as a chat in an elevator first thing in the morning. In the same way a credit score can affect whether you get a mortgage on a house, your online rating affects where you can live, work, what kind of car you can rent, and even if you get a seat on a plane.

Lacie, the lead character in “Nosedive,” is going to an old friend’s wedding in the hopes of increasing her rating, but as the title suggests, all does not go as planned.

‘How fake are you?’

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“Nosedive” presents us with a reality not unlike the one we’re in now. People present themselves in a particular positive way, and are falsely kind to each other in the hopes of being rewarded. Maybe none of that is inherently bad, but an issue is clearly presented when Lacie’s coworker has dropped in ratings, and is being shunned for it. Additionally, Lacie gets frustrated about being 0.1 point away from a seat on a plane, and her visible frustration is punished by those around her.

The irony you expect from Black Mirror is presented at the end, when Lacie is incarcerated, and gets into a yelling, swearing, insulting match with the man imprisoned across from her. The catch? It’s the most free she’s ever been.

We do this all the time in reality. We present the most positive parts of our lives on Facebook or Instagram, and we pretend to like people with the goal of getting something out of it. You could argue that your friends, family, and followers don’t want to see negativity, and you’d have a valid point. However, the fact that you post anything at all says more about you than them.

On the plus side, we actually were presented with this people-rating app last year, and the app was lambasted on the internet. Evidently we are not okay with literally rating each other (or being rated ourselves), but there is something to be said for being more honest with ourselves and other people. You might feel a little freer in life if you just be you, instead of displaying yourself online.

‘Playtest’

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Synopsis: Cooper is a 20-something man who’s unable to connect with his mother after his father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In an attempt to forget his current home issues, Cooper decides to travel the world, but a financial incident in London forces him to take on odd jobs so he can buy a ticket back home.

One of these jobs is at a video game company, in which the task is to try out a new alternate reality game. At the company’s building, Cooper is instructed to turn off his phone before the testing can begin. Something is then injected into his head, allowing him to virtually see the games. The first game he plays is Whac-a-Mole. For the second, Cooper is taken to a mansion in which he’ll virtually confront his greatest fears via a headset. Some of his fears include spiders, a childhood bully, and forgetting who he is.

At the end, we find out that Cooper hadn’t turned off his phone in the beginning. His mother called, which interfered with the device in his head, causing it to malfunction, and he died. He’d only ‘played the game’ for 0.04 seconds.

Did you call your mother today?

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You know how sometimes your mom or dad calls and you say, “Now’s not a good time”? Well, unfortunately for Cooper, his mother called at a really bad time. There will be consequences if you ignore your mother! She just wants to know you’re okay! Okay?

In all seriousness, “Playtest” stresses the importance of facing your fears and telling people how you feel because you never know when it’ll be too late. Cooper ran away from his problems. He didn’t want to confront his mother about the disconnect between them so off he went to see the world. But he also wouldn’t talk to her on the phone, so she kept calling, as mothers do, and it resulted in his death. Of course, you probably won’t die if you don’t confront your fears, but it’s Black Mirror, so of course the worst will happen.

‘Shut Up and Dance’

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Synopsis: After Kenny, a seemingly sweet and lonely teenager, installs malware remover on his computer, a hacker gains access to his laptop’s camera and records him masturbating to some ‘adult’ content. The unknown hacker emails Kenny instructions he must follow, else the video will be sent to all of his phone’s contacts.

Kenny reluctantly complies, and completes the tasks the hacker sets him. Along the way he meets up with Hector, blackmailed for cheating on his wife, and the two rob a bank together and drive to another location. There, Hector is told to destroy their car, and Kenny is to go into the woods to deliver the stolen money.

In the woods he meets with another of the hacker’s victims. The two are to fight to the death, and the winner takes the money. It’s also revealed that Kenny and this other man are pedophiles.

By the end, the hacker releases the info on all the ‘victims,’ despite them having completed the tasks. Kenny, who has won the fight, is last seen being cornered by police, about to be arrested.

Do you believe in vigilante justice, or a legal justice system?

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The whole episode is spent feeling bad for Kenny and hating the hacker. How could someone do something so cruel to this kid? How quickly your mind changes though with the twist at the end. Your new reaction was probably, “Oh, well, whatever, he deserved it,” but who’s decision is it to give Kenny justice?

Each of the hacker’s victims had tasks proportional to their misdeed, which in theory seems great. But like every superhero show or movie, can you trust vigilante justice? Take the guy whose task was to deliver Kenny a cake: He’s being punished for being gay. True, his task was minimal, but he was outed to his family, thus punished just the same as everyone else. Would you say that someone who’s not out to their family deserves to be punished?

It’s easy to side with the hacker when he/she is blackmailing an obvious criminal or dirty deed, but there are lots of grey areas when it comes to what a proper punishment is for a particular misdeed. We all have our own opinions on what degree of punishment befits a certain crime, which is why there’s a legal justice system. Sure, sometimes that system is flawed, but would you still put your trust in a random citizen to make those decisions?

‘San Junipero’

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Synopsis: In this world, people have the ability to visit a virtual place called San Junipero. They appear as 20-something versions of themselves in San Junipero, despite their age in the real world. After you die, your consciousness is permanently uploaded to a virtual reality system where you can live in San Junipero forever. Living people can visit for five hours a week.

In the episode, we follow the love story of Kelly and Yorkie. Yorkie has been comatose for over 40 years, after a car accident in her 20s. She wanted to be euthanized, but her parents refuse to sign the papers due to religious beliefs. After meeting Kelly, herself an elderly woman in the real world, and falling in love, Kelly decides to marry Yorkie, thus gaining authorization to override Yorkie’s parents, and granting Yorkie her wish.

By the end, Kelly becomes ill, requests to be euthanized, and joins Yorkie in San Junipero where they live happily ever after.

Are you living in a virtual world, or the real world?

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Despite its uplifting and unusually happy ending, San Junipero is quite tragic. It’s said that San Junipero is meant for therapy, to help those with Alzheimer’s. However, there’s a quick mention in the episode that people are requesting to be euthanized just because they prefer living in San Junipero over the real world. Is this so different from our current world?

People spend so much of their time online, whether they’re browsing the internet or playing a game, it’s essentially their own San Junipero. Physical interactions and going out are just as important as alone time inside. Moreover, it’s necessary to get away from a digital screen.

“San Junipero” seems like a change of tone from other Black Mirror episodes because of its love story premise with a ‘happy’ ending, but ultimately it’s just as darkly twisted as the rest. Virtual living should be an escape, not a way of life.

‘Men Against Fire’

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Synopsis: In this military story, soldiers are implanted with MASS, technology meant to help soldiers carry out their missions and reward them for good behavior. The soldiers are fighting against roaches, humans mutated by some biological accident.

The story follows new recruit Stripe. Stripe’s first mission is to track down and kill roaches who have pillaged a nearby village. In an ensuing altercation, a roach flashes a green light in Stripe’s eyes. Subsequently, Stripe begins to see roaches not as pale, deformed monsters, but as they really are: humans.

As it turns out, this war against roaches is reminiscent of the Holocaust: hunting down people who are deemed genetically inferior, and MASS is intended to dehumanize these ‘roaches,’ making it easier for soldiers to kill them.

Now that Stripe knows the truth about the implants and the war, he’s given the choice of imprisonment, while being forced to watch back footage of him killing people on loop, or he can have his memory wiped. Stripe chooses the latter, and returns home to what appears to be a beautiful house, but in reality is a dump.

Can we be held responsible for ignorant actions?

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“Men Against Fire” presents a couple of questions, neither of which are easy to answer. It’s true the soldiers don’t know they’re killing innocent people and not rabid monsters, but does their ignorance excuse their actions? Maybe these soldiers are victims too, and the only one to blame are those implanting them with MASS. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to think the soldiers aren’t to blame, but if you were one of the ‘roaches’ being hunted, it may not be so black and white.

Then there’s the ignorance-is-bliss predicament. Stripe wasn’t given a great alternative to a memory wipe, so it’s no surprise that’s what he chose. In our reality, those choices aren’t usually so drastic, and usually it’s our choice. Certainly when information is so readily available at our fingertips, we can’t use the excuse of having been deceived like Stripe. We’ve chosen ignorance, if by inaction.

Choosing to look away could be considered a selfish way of living, but maybe you’d argue that there’s so much tragedy in the world, why let something affect you that isn’t directly related to you? Which side do you fall on?

‘Hated in the Nation’

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Synopsis: A detective and her new partner investigate a series of murders caused by bee drones embedded in the victims’ brains. In their efforts to discover who’s behind hacking the bee drones, Parke and Blue discover that the daily victims are chosen based on a hashtag. Whoever has the most #DeathTo tweets mentioned with their name is the next victim, including a controversial journalist, a rap star, and an idiotic teen with poor taste in selfies.

When the public deduces their tweeting actually works, the use of the hashtag grows exponentially, and people begin targeting specific public figures. The next potential victim is the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Parke learns the identity of the hacker, and a motive: he wants people to face the consequences of their actions, instead of hiding behind online anonymity. It’s then discovered that this hacker has been collecting information on all those who have used the #DeathTo hashtag, and they’ve been the real targets the whole time. Parke and Blue are unable to figure out a way to stop the bee drones, resulting in over 300,000 people being killed.

Do you recognize that your online harassment can cause real life consequences?

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You’ve heard it time and again: It’s easy to criticize someone through a keyboard, and if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. Yet people bully others online until the victims have had enough, and sometimes they even kill themselves.

In “Hated in the Nation,” you’re forced to reflect on your own online habits. It’s not about how bad someone is; it’s about recognizing how bad you can be. The question turns from ‘who deserves it?’ to ‘would you have done it?’ or even, ‘have you done it?’ Most of us wouldn’t directly kill someone who wrote a nasty article or posted a disrespectful selfie, but many more of us would tweet it. Is there really a difference there? Is the girl who stupidly takes an impudent picture much worse than someone who wishes death on another?

Naturally, Black Mirror presents this in an extreme, unrealistic manner (you’re online hate speech probably won’t ever get you killed by robotic bees), but the point stands. You don’t speak without thinking what outcome your words may have, so don’t type thoughtlessly. Words are words, whether verbal or written.

‘Black Mirror’ season 3 is streaming on Netflix now

Here are the 2017 Oscars winners and losers

8:25 pm EST, February 26, 2017

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Read full article

The 2017 Oscars took place Sunday night in Hollywood and found La La Land cleaning up with six wins. Here are the Academy Award winners!

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, which took place at the Dolby Theater. The event featured live performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs.

2017 Oscar winners list

Related: We asked our parents to describe the 2017 Oscar nominees

Below is a complete list of Oscar winner and losers.

2017 Oscar winner list

Note: The final winner of the night was originally announced to be La La Land, but the announcement was actually an error — Moonlight won Best Picture. Awkward.

Best Picture:
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land

Lion
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight

Best Actress:
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Fences – August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Lion – Luke Davies
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay:
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Manchester By the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Original Song:
“Audition” – La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“City of Stars” – La La Land
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Score:
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best Cinematography:
Bradford Young – Arrival
Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Grieg Fraser – Lion
James Laxton – Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto – Silence

Best Live Action Short Film
Timecode
Sing
Silent Nights
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
4.1 Miles
Extremis
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Editing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Best Visual Effects:
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Production Design:
Arrival
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Animated Short:
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

Best Foreign Language Film:
Land of Mine, Denmark
The Salesman, Iran
A Man Called Ove, Sweden
Tanna, Australia
Toni Erdmann, Germany

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By the Sea

Best Sound Mixing:
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours

Best Sound Editing:
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best Documentary Feature:
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

Best Costume Design:
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
A Man Called Ove

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Tags: 2017 Oscars

Lightning McQueen’s biggest enemy is himself in the new Cars 3 trailer.

The second major preview premiered during the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon, where voice actor Owen Wilson served as grand marshal.

The new Cars 3 trailer finds Lightning pushing himself to compete with high tech cars that are engineered to win. The character suffers a serious accident during a race and finds himself back at square one, having to work himself back up to what he once was.

Read full article

Lightning McQueen’s biggest enemy is himself in the new Cars 3 trailer.

The second major preview premiered during the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon, where voice actor Owen Wilson served as grand marshal.

The new Cars 3 trailer finds Lightning pushing himself to compete with high tech cars that are engineered to win. The character suffers a serious accident during a race and finds himself back at square one, having to work himself back up to what he once was.

While Cars 3’s main setting is unclear, we do see Lightning at least briefly returning to Radiator Springs (Gotta keep Cars Land at Disneyland relevant)!. This appears to be the I-need-to-rediscover-myself-by-remembering-my-origins scene.

Cars 3 looks dramatic, emotional, and possibly targeting kids and adults? We’ll race into theaters for this installment when Pixar’s latest opens this summer.

A synopsis from Pixar reads: “Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!”

Tags: cars 3

We asked our parents to describe the 2017 Oscar nominees

It's because we love them that we use them for our amusement.

10:30 am EST, February 26, 2017

When your friends and family don’t know about the films of the 2017 Oscars, you just have to take advantage of their ignorance and laugh.

The title of a movie (usually) makes obvious sense when you know what that movie is about. But titles can be so vague, and when you have no prior knowledge of the movie, the plot isn’t typically easy to decipher. How fun would it be then, to ask our friends and family to guess the plots of the nominees for the 2017 Oscars?

The task was simple for us. We gave our friends and family a movie title from the 2017 Oscars, and asked them to guess what the movie is about. It’s not, however, such a simple task for them. They weren’t allowed to look it up. No cheating allowed! As you can imagine, we got some interesting responses.

Read full article

When your friends and family don’t know about the films of the 2017 Oscars, you just have to take advantage of their ignorance and laugh.

The title of a movie (usually) makes obvious sense when you know what that movie is about. But titles can be so vague, and when you have no prior knowledge of the movie, the plot isn’t typically easy to decipher. How fun would it be then, to ask our friends and family to guess the plots of the nominees for the 2017 Oscars?

The task was simple for us. We gave our friends and family a movie title from the 2017 Oscars, and asked them to guess what the movie is about. It’s not, however, such a simple task for them. They weren’t allowed to look it up. No cheating allowed! As you can imagine, we got some interesting responses.

Be sure to check out the ridiculous responses we got for the 2016 Oscars too!

Time to let her rip tater chip.

‘Lion’

Our participants start out on a high note. Well, they at least know who’s in the movie.

‘Arrival’

Success continues with Arrival, as they have the vague idea it’s about space aliens (although it’s possible one of them is confused with Passengers).

‘Fences’

There was a common general premise our friends and family had of Fences.

‘Moonlight’

They did well with Moonlight…until they didn’t.

‘La La Land’

Maybe La La Land will be better! Everyone knows La La Land! Right…?

‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Oh no, we’re starting to lose them!

‘Hidden Figures’

No lie though, I’d watch that.

‘Captain Fantastic’

We’ve officially lost them.

‘Hell or High Water’

Could these plots be any more varied?

‘Nocturnal Animals’

It might have been a good idea for Nocturnal Animals to change its name.

‘Silence’

They’re really losing it now. They’ve had enough!

‘Manchester by the Sea’

Someone needs to turn these ideas into full screenplays, they are gold.

‘The Lobster’

What did they expect people would think when they named it The Lobster?

Thanks to Ariella, Brandi, Donya, Karen, Kendra, Kyle, Matthew, Pamela, Selina, and the friends and family they may or may not have annoyed all week.

Which 2017 Oscars movie do you think has the most misleading title?