In this post, I'll be looking at some underlying messages of the Black mirror episode, Men Against Fire.
...And without further ado, let's get into it.
The 5th episode of the 3rd season, Men against fire takes a dystopian look at the military of the future. In the episode, we follow the movements of Stripe played by Malachi Kirby.
Stripe and the other soldiers are outfitted with MASS Technology and are able to view the territory with enhanced viewing capabilities, thanks to the implants.
The team is part of a special unit (of what organization we don't know), on a mission to rid the population of disease carrying creatures called "Roaches".
During this mission, Stripe's implant is disrupted and eventually, he's able to see the creatures for what they actually are, humans.
Disturbed by what he's seeing, Stripe has a conversation with Arquette. During the conversation, Arquette explains to Stripe that he volunteered for the program, but his memory of the agreement was erased. He explains why the humans are seen as roaches and assures him that this is the best way to take care of genetic abnormalities for generations of the future.
By the end of the episode, Stripe is dropped off at home, still equipped with the reality altering technology - destined to live a life that's only real in his mind.
The overall message, shows us how, in the wrong hands technology can be used to seek out and destroy innocent people. But under that, are several messages about the social construct including ideas from eugenics to classism. A tale that's disturbing on several layers.
THE PERFECT SOLDIER - Military Technology
Military Tests and Studies
It's no secret that millions of tax payer dollars are spent on the military construct. It's probably also no secret that one of the goals of the military is to create the perfect soldier - one with a willingness to kill without the side effects of remorse. It's a reoccurring theme in military action films and it's documented via military tests and projects. The idea of a perfect killing machine in the future is terrifying enough, even scarier are the technologies that are already available and in the works. (show some military images of technology)
--Military Project Names
The Edgewood Arsenal Drug Experiments
ACTUV (ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel)
WARRIOR WEB Initiative
The XS-1 SPACEPLANE
DRAGON DREAM (Large capacity cargo transport)
PROJECT FALCON (Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2))
The BRAIN Initiative
ROBOTIC LANDING GEAR
ENGINEERING LIVING MATERIALS (Homes repair themselves)
Eugenics involves the idea that inferior people should be abolished.
Supporters aimed to reduce human suffering by “breeding out” disease, inherited mental illness, disabilities, tendencies to commit criminal acts, poverty or any other so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population.
...Modern eugenics, better known as human genetic engineering, changes or removes genes to prevent or cure disease...
Without going into it too deep, the ironies of this episode are shown within the characteristics of the protagonist. Stripe, a black male, represents a member of society that was and is heavily targeted based on skin color. The sentiment is echoed with Raiman played by Madeline Brewer - as a white female, she represents a group of people that rallied together to gain the same privileges and opportunities as their male counterparts...
it's also a picture of classism, as people of darker complexions in various societies have to face a level of ridicule or face being seen as less valuable due to their darker tone.
It could be a stretch, but I think this also touches on the growing hypocrisy that seems to be prevalent in our current world. With some people being quick ridicule others, for the same offenses they've committed themselves.
(look for hypocrites)
A FALSE REALITY
One of the main messages that stood out to me while watching this was the idea of a false reality. Not a false reality in terms of a dystopian future, but the false reality we see everyday and have been seeing since the advent of the television.
Whether we want to admit it or not, movie stars and celebrities have been created for the public as an example to live by.
Even when examples are provided at home - our fashions, mindsets, ideas of morality, dialect and sense of social standing is still influenced by these characters.
It's a literal fight to not pour energy into the factors of life that don't really matter when you look at the full picture. It can be difficult and depressing at times, mirroring the emotion we get from Stripe as he realizes that his valiant efforts, turned out to be a source of destruction.
At first glance, this episode comes off as one of the less impactful episodes of the Black mirror series, but it actually touches on some poignant messages that could initially be missed.
Season 3, included a good number of episodes that touch on the constructs of society by looking at the dangers of public opinion when the boundaries of fair and legal are crossed.....this episode quietly falls in line by exploring the shortcomings of humankind - and putting a focus on the point that what we see as our current world is a product of deliberate and planned construction.
Because my video is on YouTube, I can only go so deep into some of the things I see...Here are some other points I noticed in the Episode.
Stripe as a Veteran
In America, our veterans are upheld in the community and given the greatest amount of respect for risking their lives to defend our country. Unfortunately, the way some veterans are treated by the government after returning home are sub-par or downright disrespectful.
Those of higher ranks fare a little better in terms of retirement benefits, but for the soldiers that held lower ranked positions, this is not necessarily the case.
We see an example of this when Stripe is dropped off at home. He was literally left at a home that was run-down and inhabitable - mirroring some of the conditions of our retired and enlisted soldiers.
Between a Rock & a Hard Place
When Stripe was threatened with prison time if he didn't agree to implant, I honestly thought about soldiers in previous wars and studies that went along with the program because an authority told them to do so.
To me, it kinda touched on how the soldiers were forms of slaves. No longer able to have thoughts of their own, they were forced to adhere or be punished for it.
On that note, have an awesome day - be good to yourself and good to others, Peace.
Image and Article Credits:
Laurie Sparham for Netflix
Torches of Freedom ad - thecircular.org
Bernays Image - https://kickasshistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/torches-of-freedom-bernays.jpg
Classism, Colorism, Racism - https://www.thoughtco.com/the-effects-of-colorism-2834962