Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror’s “White Christmas” Written Response (25 points)
(Written by Charlie Booker and Directed by Carl Tibbets)
CORE QUESTION: How is technology used to punish people? What kind of world does this film present? How does this world resemble ours? Take notes on the details as you watch to help you with your written response. You will have one class period to complete your response after we watch and discuss the film. Treat the film as a written text, quote and analyze. Select one of the prompts below to answer in a one page (minimum) single spaced (organized into essay form) response. You may incorporate another work we read if it helps you think about the film more critically. Create a strong arguable position and support it with evidence from the film and your analysis. Please submit your response to turnitin.
Mathew (Jon Hamm; smooth negotiator, works with tech)
Joe Potter (Rafe Spall; stuck in winter cabin with Mathew)
Harry (Rasmus Hardiker; uses Mathew’s “dating” services)
Jennifer (Natalia Tena; the quiet brunette at the party)
Greta (Oona Chaplin; the real and the cookie)
Beth (Janet Montgomery; uses blocking technology)
Beth’s father Gordon (Ken Drury; never liked Joe)
Tim & Gita (friends of Joe and Beth)
1. How is technology used to punish people?
2. What kind of world does this film present? How does this world resemble ours?
3. In the opening scene, Mathew (Jon Hamm) and Joe Potter (Rafe Spall) are depicted living in a barren and isolated place. Discuss the place and its importance (or lack of importance!) to the film.
4. What technologies are presented in this film? How/why are they not impossible to believe? Connect to real world technology and consider the problems and benefits they pose.
5. What is problematic about Mathew’s “behind-the-eyes pick-up artist wingman” business? What does this reveal about him? His viewers?
6. Analyze the character of Jennifer (the woman Harry “picks up” with Mathew’s help)? Why did the creator of the show put her in the storyline? Consider how little we know about her and why.
7. What are Joe Potter’s crimes? Is he to blame? Why or why not? Explain. Does he deserve his punishment? What is Beth’s responsibility in all this?
8. Why does Joe Potter begin his story with “Her father never like me…He never liked me”? How does not being liked play a part in his behavior and punishment.
9. What are your thoughts on the “virtual duplicates of the self” (AKA “cookies”) Mathew makes/trains? Is real Greta wrong? Is it acceptable to use virtual Greta? Mathew says that she is not real, therefore, it is not barbaric.
10. Is the “blocking technology” the film presents an appropriate use of the technology? Explain. Is it fair that one person can block another? Should there be limits? Intervention?
11. How do all the segments (the snow camp, cookie training, Mathew’s date training/Harry’s death, Joe’s relationship and blocking, Joe’s confession, and Mathew’s total block) connect? What is the purpose of this film? How might you think about technology now?
12. Which of the technologies presented is the most horrifying and why?
13. Does Mathew deserve his punishment? Why or why not? Discuss his characterization to build your case.
14. Ethics? Where should the line be drawn?
15. Select a topic/idea not outlined in the questions above to discuss. Create a strong position statement and underline it in your intro.