Black Mirror: Hang the D.J. (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Amy and George live inside The System, a walled-off community of singles who are paired off by an artificial intelligence known as Coach. The pairings are used to gather data on a person’s preferences in a partner so that they can one day be given their perfect match. The length of the pairings is seemingly random, with some lasting a couple days to others going on for an entire year. Amy and George are each other’s first date in the System, and they are only together for 12 hours. However, even after being paired up with other people, they feel a pull towards each other.
Hang the D.J. is compared in reviews to last season’s San Junipero and rightly so. This episode is centered around the themes of love and sex, all done in a very positive tone. Technology appears to be the nemesis at one point but we quickly learn our perspective of the situation is skewed, and in the end, this is a story where technology helps bring people together. Every Black Mirror episode needs a relatable hook to make it resonate with the audience, and this one settles on the phenomenon of online dating.
No matter what site you go to, online dating claims that through the use of their sophisticated proprietary algorithm to match you with the perfect person. This algorithm usually starts with the user inputting their information, detailing the traits of their desired mate, and then answering questions that range from politics to religion to art. Then inside the seemingly high tech dating computer a series of potential matches are spat out and ranked on the percentage of possible success. As the user continues to use the platform and refine their information the algorithm gets closer and closer to determining the best possible match for the people in the system. Without giving much of this episode away, its entire plot hinges on this idea and the final scene’s reveal is a bit of fantastic beauty.
There is a misconception that Black Mirror is a series about the evils of technology. If you go back and reflect on the episodes you realize the technology is a neutral party, the end user is the one who is dealing with internal darkness. Often Black Mirror is about the abuse of future technology, how humans devise endless ways of harming each other in increasingly efficient manners. In Hang the DJ we have the aesthetics of Season 3’s Nosedive without the dark turn. For a brief moment, the episode plays up a sense of conspiracy theory but resolves that quickly without stringing the audience on for too long. This entry into the season, like San Junipero, comes as a refresher from the bleak previous episodes and helps us prepare for the bleak ones to come.