Did the Arkangel episode of Black Mirror just rip overprotective parents?

Black Mirror hones in on our culture’s obsession with technology and reveals that we are also deathly afraid of the rapid pace of technological advancement used to parent. Children everywhere are left to their own devices with, well devices. The writers of this series find that nerve and twist it.

The latest season of Black Mirror on Netflix, more specifically the Arkangel episode, exploits parents’ worst fear, the failure to protect. The primary premise explores juvenile autonomy.  It wants viewers to struggle with deciding how much is enough or too much. Arkangel also performs a surface level exploration of forced abortion, pre-marital sex, and privacy.  Yikes, when you say all that out loud it sounds horrible, but I promise its fun. Let’s not forget about”The Twilight Zone’s” popularity.

Spoiler alert

If you haven’t seen this episode stop reading. If you have, proceed.

Here are the down and dirty details. One morning  Claire (Rosemarie Dewitt) took her kid Sara (Aniya Hodge 3 y.o.) to the park, while they are there she starts running her mouth with another mom and Sara wanders off. She freaks out. Although they find Sara, Claire cannot cope with the thought of losing her kid again and voluntarily gets the kid chipped like a pet poodle. It is not ordinary microchip though, she can filter her sensory input and see everything Sara sees.

Cut to years later, Mom can’t find Sarah (Brenna Harding 15 y.o.) and what does she do? You guessed it, she freaks out all over again and grabs the tablet that allows her to monitor Sara, despite having agreed to never invade her teenage daughter’s privacy. As soon as she powers on the monitor, boom, Sara is getting it on in a van with her boyfriend.

Claire bullies Trick (Owen Teague), the boyfriend, and forces him not to communicate with Sara anymore. Claire also grinds up a morning-after pill and hides it in her daughter’s protein smoothie.  All of the helicopter mom shenanigans land Clair on the bedroom floor with Sara smashing her face in with the microchip monitoring tablet.

What did we learn

Black Mirror, despite its salaciousness and fear baiting, attempts to do quite a bit. Arkangel directed by Jody Foster does a great job with entertaining and informing the audience with a unique take on this subject. Some critics of the show say “the focus was too narrow”, or “this episode missed some prime opportunities to explore topics that are relevant to today’s viewers”. The sentiments are partially true, there is a monocular quality to this episode, but it has to be that way to further the point of the message.  In this instance, the episode asks the audience to consider the implications of parenting through technology and if our unwillingness to let our kids experience life unfiltered is healthy.

Is the key to good parenting really control? To some degree, all parents need to control their children’s environment, especially when interpreting what they consume from entertainment and social media. Technology will always be a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, we have to be familiar with the world that our children live in, and even to keep pace with the skills that we need in the workplace. Alternatively, all things need limits. How much technology does it take to replace real parenting and trust?  The answer will vary, but as things exist today, it’s apparent the idea needs thorough consideration.

Thank you all for stopping by, as always, leave your comments below.