Men (and minds) against fire in “Black Mirror”

Cassandra Martinez, Staff Writer

The “Black Mirror” Netflix series has earned a reputation for provoking viewers with episodes that disturb and provoke discussion. “Men Against Fire” did just that for students and faculty last week.

Linfield’s PLACE committee held a viewing of the “Black Mirror” episode with a special discussion afterwards led by professors Jamie Friedman and Dawn Nowacki Wednesday evening in Nicholson Library.

The episode features soldiers in the militarily in the far future who are sent to protect villagers and destroy mutant creatures. Viewers follow a soldier named Stripe Koinange as he is assigned to hunt the mutants, or “roaches” as his friends call them. All the soldiers have neural implants called MASS, which help them improve their survival in combat.

Stripe eventually realizes that the mutants are actual humans when his MASS implant has a malfunction. He has to decide whether spread the truth about the military’s operation or simply get his chip fixed and become what he was before: a soldier.

After the episode, Nowacki began the conversation about the gender in the military. She emphasized the representation of women in the military and how the show portrays the behavior of the female recruit.

“There’s hyper-masculinity that is presented through the female recruit…she acts more male and makes crude remarks and gestures,” Nowacki said, referring to a scene in which the female recruit gestures her crotch area as she mentions feeling good after killing.

Friedman and Nowacki also highlighted how the military deeming human survivors “roaches” dehumanized them. They said leaders across the globe use this concept to persuade their people to think this way about  people who are different.

“You don’t need an implant to think this way,” Friedman said.

A modern example is Trump’s campaign about Mexican immigrants when he promoted building a wall. Friedman’s historical example was of Hitler convincing Germans that Jewish people were inferior and spurring years of injustice against them.