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This chapter will provide a sociocultural and close textual analysis of the Black Mirror episodes: “White Bear” (2/18/2013), “White Christmas” (12/16/2014), and “Black Museum” (12/29/2017) to examine their representations of speculative punishment, incarceration, and social and mental control. This study argues that these near future representations are expressive of contemporary neoliberal governance and criminology, public shaming and humiliation, penal tourism, and criminal justice and punishment as entertainment. The episodes’ futuristic punishments exemplify the type of retributive justice that has come to characterize the neoliberal penal turn in criminal justice in the United States and in the UK over the past three decades. Mike Nellis (2006) affirms that dystopian penal imagery in American science fiction films approximately corresponds with markedly more punitive penal practices for the past 30 years. In addition, some of these films focus on the use of panoptic surveillance and digital technologies for disciplinary control and, as agents of confinement, express cultural anxieties about the increased capacity of these technologies for social and mental control. The aforementioned Black Mirror episodes intersect with these and other relevant discourses as they serve to imagine a technological future characterized by new forms of governance and social management, spectatorship, punishment, and confinement.
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- Speculative Punishment, Incarceration, and Control in Black Mirror