“Fifteen Million Merits” is an episode of the show Black Mirror. It showed a dystopia that revolved around television. The beginning of the episode had very little dialogue so the producers relied on other means to introduce their ideas. The colors that they chose to show were dark and bleak, a lot of blacks and gray tones. The only time there was a lot of bright color was when the television system was involved such the farm scene that Bing wakes up to every morning. Another element that the producers used to show a dystopia was music. The first song that we hear is ABBA’s “I have a dream.” This is very important because throughout the episode we learn that it is many people’s dream in this world to get out of their meager life of cycling. Another song that we hear is “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” by Irma Thomas. Abi sings this during her audition. It is ironic because she sings about love but is forced into porn because of it.
These elements, along with others such as the scene backgrounds, tone and motifs, coupled with the narrative provide a compelling “dystopia.” This is a society that cycles until they can earn enough merits to get themselves out of cycling day in and day out. It is supposed to be a utopia because everyone has a job and can make a living. But as the viewer can easily see, theres not much of a redeeming quality about winning their reality game show. The tone that this show produces does fit the society they are trying to describe. There is the motif of lemons in the episode as well. The lemon, a fat person who is unable to ride the bike all day long, is viewed as a horrible member of society. This is what they are lemons- they are sour and unpleasant. I think that this episode presents a dystopia that is similar to big brother. Off the bat it seems terribly and has no redeeming qualities (unless you think that fame can solely make a person happy) just like Oceania.
“Fifteen Million Merits” takes a satirical stance on how sick and obsessed people are with television these days. It turned this into a dystopian world where everyone is forced to watch television and work to support the television stations. Two of the television stations that we, as viewers, get to see is a porn channel and a reality entertainment show. These shows mimic what people truly watch these days. They all have shows that are similar to what is shown in America (and Britain): late night Cinemax and American Idol. This show is taking a shot at how we are so addicted to our televisions and streaming websites that we would give up our own truth for them just as Bing does in the end.While I don't personally think that this dystopia will ever happen to us, I think that some parts of it hit close to home. How many times have I watched American Idol or X-Factor where they have a sob story of someone who spent their last $200 to audition and make their dreams come true. And how many people will binge watch entire series over a weekend. I know I have done that at least a few times. I don’t think that we will necessarily ever have to power a world of television by cycling for the rest of our lives, but I do think that we are and will continue to be slaves to our TVs.