Diving into the dark arts

By: Liam Cuddy

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Next semester’s classes have officially been put online and registration starts soon. Every year students scramble to find that perfect class. A class that peaks their interest, that challenges them to think outside the box, that is different and really stands out. This particular class varies from major-to-major, but it’s safe to assume that all Netflix lovers looking to take a dive into the darker side of things will be quite satisfied with Dr. Joseph Sirianni’s “Black Mirror” course.

“Black Mirror” is a British anthology series turned Netflix original that speaks to the horrors and controversy surrounding the rise of technology, and proves to be a promising topic for a course.

“It’s been awhile since a television show has generated so much discussion,” said Sirianni. “We really have to stop and think about how the themes within its episodes are relevant to our own behavior –in ‘Black Mirror’s case, it’s our technology use.”

Topics range from the dangers of social media on social lives, to artificial intelligence, to surveillance and so much more.

“Black Mirror is known for having clever, dark twists nearing the end of each episode that leaves the viewer in a temporary existential crisis,” said Sirianni.  “The class is bound to bring up plenty of interesting discussion and debate.”

“’Black Mirror’ forces us to look at ourselves, how we use technology, and more importantly why we use technology,” said Sirianni. “It provides a commentary on how we currently use technology and the potential pitfalls that come with using too much technology or making too many advances with technology. Some critics have pointed to ‘The Waldo Moment’ as a precursor for the 2016 presidential election. Shades of ‘Nosedive’ can be seen in Russia where people can stop at mall kiosks and buy fake social media likes.”

Yet the entire series isn’t completely about the downfall of all humanity. There are hidden gems within this masterpiece that do a great job at lighting up the dark. One of the gems is the episode “San Junipero.”

“San Junipero is my favorite ‘Black Mirror’ episode.” said Sirianni. “It’s this beautifully crafted story about our choices in life – who we choose to love, how we choose to grieve and how we choose to live.”

Those who have taken classes with Sirianni before know to expect things to get a little dark. They also know to expect a unique project nearing the end of the semester that forces people to think outside of the box.

“Students will propose their own ideas for ‘Black Mirror’ episodes,” said Sirianni. “I hope students will be able to think critically about present and future forms of technology and about what technological themes could make up a classic ‘Black Mirror’ episode.”

Course listings are currently live on MyNU and registration begins soon, so make sure to look out for courses that may interest you, and consider something new and exciting, perhaps even taking a dive into the dark side of things.


Feature image by mezclaconfusa.



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