Martin Carr reviews Black Mirror’s Hang the DJ…
Human compatibility and the search for your ideal partner is big money. Politics, national disasters and celebrity centric survival shows might distract us, but without companionship everything else becomes less important somehow. Industries have been built on this compulsion and our need for validation, success beyond the professional sphere and status driven social pressure dictates we comply or at least compete. There are unsavoury elements which spring up from this desire for company, but for once Black Mirror keeps you engaged without delving too deeply into that darkness.
Imagine having no control over who you couple with. Every decision is made, every action decided and all that effort and pressure is lifted. Imagine being policed, monitored, observed and threatened with banishment from your safe little enclave if you challenge the plan. Consider being immersed in a world of open air functions, regimented exercise and statistically pre-determined blind dates for finite periods of time. Anyone who has ever spent time on dating websites should knowingly identify with some, if not all of Black Mirror’s answer to a rom-com.
On a base level ‘Hang the DJ’ is dissecting our compulsive social media driven society and taking it to a logical conclusion. As it stands there is so much information out there drifting through cyberspace about us that it’s likely such a thing might happen. People meet over social media, chat on forums and trade personal pictures with strangers based on on-line information already. Although Brooker could have gone down the Catfish route he chose to focus on social engineering and personal desires rather get creepy.
Georgina Campbell’s Amy and Joe Cole’s Frank represent out way into this high-tech commune of compatibility. Passing like ships in the night as their search plays out against a backdrop of meaningless encounters, enforced cohabitation and awkward silences. There is humour to be found here but on a very personal level I suspect as bad relationship choices take on darker more comic overtones only in retrospect. Those things we found so attractive to begin with turn into an annoyance over time before becoming deal breakers. This is where ‘Hang the DJ’ shines as Brooker subverts expectations, illuminates human frailties and points out that science has no place in dictating who we find attractive.