Hang the DJ (Black Mirror)

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"Hang the DJ"
Black Mirror episode
Black Mirror S04E04 - Hang the DJ.png
Promotional poster
Episode no.Series 4
Episode 4
Directed byTim Van Patten
Written byCharlie Brooker
Featured musicOriginal Score by
Alex Somers
Sigur Rós
Original air date29 December 2017 (2017-12-29)
Running time51 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Black Mirror episodes

"Hang the DJ" is the fourth episode of the fourth series of the British anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by Charlie Brooker and directed by Tim Van Patten. The episode first aired on Netflix, along with the rest of series four, on 29 December 2017.

Amy (Georgina Campbell) and Frank (Joe Cole) live in a walled-off society where people are required to be matched into romantic relationships; all the relationships come with expiration dates that can be revealed if both partners choose. A digital "coach" (voiced by Gina Bramhill) collects the data from the failed relationship and helps them find their "ultimate compatible other". Amy and Frank meet for just 12 hours before being paired off with others. After a few brief encounters, they realise they are in love, and try to rebel against Coach and the System.

The episode received critical acclaim for its simple, satisfying storyline and Campbell and Cole's performances.[1] Critics praised the Tinder and Siri-like technologies explored throughout the episode and its ending. Some compared the episode to the uplifting tone of "San Junipero".[2][3]

Plot[edit]

Frank (Joe Cole) is instructed by "Coach", an artificial intelligence system installed on a small, circular tablet, to go to "the Hub", a large, mall-like building. There he enters a restaurant where he is joined by Amy (Georgina Campbell), who is also following Coach's instructions. The two discover that it is the first time each of them has met someone through "the System", which dictates which romantic relationships its users will have and for how long. Amy and Frank check their tablets and find that their encounter will last only 12 hours.

Amy and Frank are taken to a numbered house, passing an encircling wall on the way. They talk, then sleep next to each other, parting the next morning after their relationship counter counts down to zero. In their separate conversations with Coach, it is revealed that the System enters users into numerous relationships and collects data on them in order to match the user with their "ultimate compatible other" on the user's "pairing day", which it claims has a 99.8% success rate.

Amy is assigned a nine-month-long relationship with Lenny (George Blagden), an attractive "old hand" at the system. Frank is assigned a one-year relationship with the humourless and dour Nicola (Gwyneth Keyworth).

Amy and Frank reconnect at a pairing day celebration, which they attend with their respective partners. After this encounter, Amy begins to distance herself from Lenny. When her relationship with Lenny expires, Amy is assigned to a string of short relationships that become increasingly meaningless. When Frank's relationship with Nicola expires, Amy and Frank are once again matched and agree not to check their relationship length.

As Amy and Frank's relationship continues, Frank becomes distracted by the fact that their relationship has a set end date. He breaks his promise to Amy and checks his tablet to see how long they have left. It initially says five years, but then "recalibrates" to ever-shorter lengths. Coach informs Frank that his "one-sided observation" of the expiration date has shortened his and Amy's relationship which eventually settles on 20 hours. The next day, Amy confronts Frank about his distracted behavior. Frank admits that he checked their expiry date and tells Amy they only have an hour left. The two argue, with Frank suggesting that they climb the encircling wall and escape the System. Amy leaves Frank, angry at him for breaking their promise and "breaking" their relationship.

After another string of indistinguishable short relationships, Coach informs Amy that her ultimate match has been found, and that her pairing day will be the following day. Coach tells Amy that her ultimate match is someone Amy has never met before, and gives Amy the chance to say farewell to one person of her choosing. Amy immediately chooses Frank, then tosses her tablet into a pool.

Amy and Frank meet at the restaurant in the Hub and discover their farewell period is just 90 seconds. Amy realizes that neither she nor Frank remember what their lives were like before they entered the System. She tells Frank that they must be undergoing a test and that rebelling against the System is part of passing it; they agree to rebel by climbing the encircling wall. As they start to leave the restaurant, a guard tries to stop them with a stun gun. Amy defies the guard by putting her hand on the stun gun, which freezes him and everyone else.

The two make it to the wall. As they climb it, the lights below them go out and pixelated blackness engulfs everything, revealing that they were part of a simulation. They reappear on a virtual plaza with the number 998 above their heads, surrounded by hundreds of other similarly numbered duplicates of themselves. They look up and fade out of existence, as a digital counter announces that 998 rebellions have occurred out of 1000 simulations.

The camera then flips into the real world and it is revealed that the System and its simulations are all part of an online dating app's matchmaking algorithm which reveals that the 998 rebellious simulations to actually be a 99.8% match for Amy and Frank. Amy and Frank lock eyes with each other and smile as the lyrics "Hang the DJ" from the song "Panic" by The Smiths plays in the background, and Amy begins to approach Frank.

Production[edit]

Some exterior filming took place at Painshill, including the Pairing Day ceremony at a folly in the form of a ruined abbey.

Whilst series one and two of Black Mirror were shown on Channel 4 in the UK, in September 2015 Netflix commissioned the series for 12 episodes,[4] and in March 2016 it outbid Channel 4 for the rights to distribute the third series, with a bid of $40 million.[5] The 12-episode order was divided into two series of six episodes each.

According to Annabel Jones, the series' co-creator, "Hang the DJ" was intended to reflect on the state of dating in the present day and the "general sense of loneliness".[6] Charlie Brooker came up with the idea of the dating app by analogy with Spotify: it determines one's perfect mate by running through a "playlist" of prospective partners and evaluating one's responses to each partner until the algorithm finds the best match.[7]

One challenge with the episode was to keep the twist—that most of the events took place within a computer simulation—unclear until the very end while still providing enough detail to make the viewer aware that something was off with the setting.[6] Brooker had conceived of the idea that the System would test Amy and Frank's compatibility from writing the "White Christmas" episode, having considered if a suspect's testimony stated by their simulation would be valid if that simulation was repeated multiple times. However, he had not written much of how this would be shown to the viewer, outside of showing many Amy and Frank couples escaping the System into a black void before being digitised into bits. Test audiences of their initial filming and special effects were still confused about what they had just seen. Production tried different special effects but eventually fell onto visuals similar to Tron, showing the couple being taken out of the system, along with placing signs calling these "Simulations" and giving them their numerical count. To further help, the final scene in the System's restaurant was reshot to give Amy additional lines that better hinted towards the idea they were in a simulation.[8]

Another aspect Brooker and his writers discussed was how long to have the semi-permanent relationship between Amy and Frank last. They ultimately settled on five years. Brooker said that when Frank discovers this time period "it's not devastating news, but it's not forever", and he thinks, "'Okay that's a reasonable amount of time for a serious relationship, a serious bond.'"[9]

The setting of the System was inspired by both the Soho Farmhouse, an establishment of the Soho House in Oxfordshire, and Center Parcs, hotel spaces that consisted of several central facilities and surrounding cabins for guests. Joel Collins likened the idea of these hotels to the design of a mobile phone circuit board, with the main central processing unit serving as a central hub, leading to some of the set design to be geometric.[8] Some exterior filming took place at Painshill, an eighteenth-century landscape park in Surrey. One of the original remaining structures, a folly in the form of a ruined abbey, served as the backdrop for the Pairing Day ceremony scene.[10] The instrumental soundtrack for "Hang the DJ" was created by Alex Somers, with two pieces contributed by Sigur Rós.[11]

Marketing[edit]

In May 2017, a Reddit post unofficially announced the names and directors of the six episodes in series 4 of Black Mirror.[12] The first trailer for the series was released by Netflix on 25 August 2017, and contained the six episode titles.[13][14]

Beginning on 24 November 2017, Netflix published a series of posters and trailers for the fourth series of the show, referred to as the "13 Days of Black Mirror".[15] On 6 December, Netflix published a trailer featuring an amalgamation of scenes from the fourth series, which announced that the series would be released on 29 December.[16]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipients Result Ref.
2018 BAFTA Awards Best Single Drama "Hang the DJ" Nominated [17]
Best Actor Joe Cole (Episode: "Hang the DJ") Nominated
BAFTA Craft Awards Writer: Drama Charlie Brooker (Episode: "Hang the DJ") Nominated [18]
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series Georgina Campbell (Episode: "Hang the DJ") Nominated [19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gilbert, Sophie. "'Black Mirror': 'Hang the DJ' Explores Dystopian Dating". The Atlantic. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Review: Black Mirror season 4 episode 'Hang The DJ' takes Tinder to the extreme in unexpected ways". The Independent. 28 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  3. ^ "In Black Mirror's bittersweet "Hang the DJ," it's technology versus loneliness". Vox. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  4. ^ Birnbaum, Debra. "'Black Mirror' Lands at Netflix". Variety.
  5. ^ Plunkett, John (29 March 2016). "Netflix deals Channel 4 knockout blow over Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror". The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b Turchiano, Danielle (29 December 2017). "'Black Mirror' Co-Creator Breaks Down Season 4: 'We Want to Be Surprising and Unpredictable'". Variety. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  7. ^ Strause, Jackie (15 January 2018). "'Black Mirror': Charlie Brooker Reveals Inspiration for "Hang the DJ"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b Brooker, Charlie; Jones, Annabel; Arnopp, Jason (November 2018). "Hang the DJ". Inside Black Mirror. New York City: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9781984823489.
  9. ^ Hibbard, James (2 January 2018). "Black Mirror season 4, your burning questions answered". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  10. ^ Gamp, Joe (30 December 2017). "Where was Black Mirror Hang the DJ filmed? Charlie Brooker's dystopian dating episode is based just outside London". Metro. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  11. ^ Reed, Ryan (10 January 2018). "Hear Sigur Ros' Two New Ambient Songs From 'Black Mirror'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  12. ^ Stolworthy, Jacob (27 May 2017). "Black Mirror season 4 episode titles and directors revealed". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  13. ^ Donnelly, Matt (25 August 2017). "'Black Mirror' Season 4: Teaser Trailer, Episode Titles, Directors and Stars Revealed (Video)". TheWrap. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  14. ^ Hooton, Christopher (25 August 2017). "Black Mirror season 4 Netflix trailer teases all six episodes and their titles". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  15. ^ Strause, Jackie (27 November 2017). "'Black Mirror': All the Season 4 Details". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  16. ^ White, Peter (6 December 2017). "Netflix Reveals 'Black Mirror' Season 4 Release Date in New Trailer". Decider. New York Post. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  17. ^ "Bafta TV Awards 2018". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  18. ^ Allen, Ben (23 April 2018). "Three Girls and Game of Thrones lead Bafta TV Craft Awards 2018". Radio Times. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  19. ^ For the award nominations, see "Voters Are "Sweet" On Queen Sugar". Foundation for the Augmentation of African-Americans in Film. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
    For the award winners, see "Black Reel Awards | Past Winners". Foundation for the Augmentation of African-Americans in Film. Retrieved 8 August 2018.

External links[edit]