In week 3 we were tasked with watching “Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits” and to analyze the show as well as connect it to the “Contrapoints” Youtube series we watched.
In this episode of Black Mirror, we saw Bing living a very bland life, where he wore the same gray outfit as others and ride an exercise bike along with them to obtain digital currency referred to as “merits”. The setting of this show reminded me of the Nintendo Wii and its avatars, but this was all these people had to live their life for. They would pedal this bike, as their “job”, to earn merits that would be used to upgrade their personal avatar, buy life’s necessities, such as food and toothpaste, and help them skip advertisements that they couldn’t avoid in any other way. While they rode the bike, they were able to watch different television shows and play games. One show called “Hot Shot” would allow these ordinary people to pay fifteen million merits to go on and show any special skills they had, such as singing or dancing. This would allow them to “make it big” and no longer have to pedal that bike again, but now live a life of luxury as long as one of the three judges offered them a job based on their skill.
Bing inherited his deceased brothers merits and held on and conserved them since his death, he had over fifteen million, enough to enter Hot Shot. One day while using the restroom, he hears Abi Khan singing and loves her voice so much that he eventually gifts her the merits required to enter Hot Shot. He goes with her to the show and after she sings, one of the judges gets her to accept a role in his adult film company rather than a singer. This breaks Bing, as the woman he seems to fall for takes that offer and he is forced to see her advertisements back in the pedaling station. Bing then works hard to save up another fifteen million merits to enter Hot Shot for himself. Only this time, he threatens his life to give a speech regarding the poor quality of life everyone is living by pedaling a bike to upgrade their digital lives. The judges think this is some sort of act instead of his real truth and offer him a job to host a talk show.
Contrapoints makes a direct correlation to Black Mirror in showing how the “Lizard’s” in capitalism are much better off than those who work much harder in their daily life. It shows how those who work hard can be seen spending their hard earned money, or merits, on useless things that we are told to buy through advertisements. Bings decision at the end of the episode comes as a shock, but harsh truth. It shows that many people would rather succumb to the “Lizard’s” and higher ups to have a better life than to stick up for what they believe in and fight back, because when they are offered an opportunity to escape, they will take it.