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It’s More Like an Eternal Waking Nightmare from Which There Is No Escape. Media and Technologies as (Digital) Prisons in Black Mirror

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Black Mirror stirs much debate around its representation of the dystopian futures of Western societies. These episodes present new forms of imprisonment, chosen or not, all linked with new media and technology. Using both semiology and visual analyses, this work aims at exploring the diverse mediated imprisonment forms proposed in Black Mirror. Drawing from Foucault’s reflections on penal systems and the bio-power apparatus created by Western societies (Foucault in Surveiller et punir, Gallimard, Paris, 1975; Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité 5:46–49, 1984), this chapter relies on the idea of a new panopticon, as crafted by Bentham, developed by Foucault and reused by us to analyze the representation of the notion of ‘prison.’ Indeed, in this new panopticon, mobile devices and social media serve as ‘disciplinary’ tools to normalize people’s behavior. Black Mirror thus questions new forms of imprisonments and, paradoxically, new ways to escape or be liberated from them. The dystopian societies depicted in Black Mirror clearly call upon our knowledge of technology: our ‘liberating’ devices often turn into new form of servitude or are prisons for both the body and the mind.

‘USS Calister,’ Black Mirror, Season 4 episode 1.

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Correspondence to Julie Escurignan .

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Escurignan, J., Allard-Huver, F. (2020). It’s More Like an Eternal Waking Nightmare from Which There Is No Escape. Media and Technologies as (Digital) Prisons in Black Mirror. In: Harmes, M., Harmes, M., Harmes, B. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Incarceration in Popular Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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