Panel 14 History, Politics, Myth, and Memory

Event Title

Black Mirror, Serial, and The Affair: Popular Culture’s Obsession with Memory

Start Date

15-2-2015 3:30 PM

End Date

15-2-2015 4:50 PM

Panel

History, Politics, Myth, and Memory

Paper/Panel Track (if known)

Mediascapes

Abstract

Recently, many pieces of popular culture have examined both personal and communal/cultural memory. This paper examines our contemporary cultural fascination with memory in an attempt to grasp why this is such a salient topic in the American cultural consciousness. This project considers three separate, contemporary meditations on memory in the digital age: Charlie Brooker’s anthology TV series Black Mirror, the viral podcast sensation Serial, and Showtime’s The Affair. “The Entire History of You,” an episode of Black Mirror, is set in a distant future wherein most of society has had a small device (a grain) implanted within them that records and stores every moment making them accessible for playback at any time. This paper will explore the intersections of memory and the digital in Brooker’s absurd distant-future. Additionally it examines potential causes for viewer obsession with the show. NPR’s Serial, a revisiting of a 1999 Baltimore murder investigation and subsequent trial, reached viral levels of popularity. On multiple occasions the podcast’s host, Sarah Koenig, expressed her frustration with many of the key figures inability to recollect the events surrounding the murder, as well the limitations on her own ability to ever be sure of what happened. Showtime’s The Affair is an hour-long drama with each episode split in two parts, each part from the perspective of either Noah or Allison, recollecting the same series of events, often with different details, regarding the development of their affair/relationship from the previous summer. Flashbacks, memories, and recollections have always been used as framing devices in texts, yet, these three texts demonstrate memory used as not just as a narrative device but also as an idea to grapple with. Memory is the tie that binds these texts together, and this paper explores how these texts illustrate a growing cultural fascination with memory.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Feb 15th, 3:30 PM Feb 15th, 4:50 PM

Black Mirror, Serial, and The Affair: Popular Culture’s Obsession with Memory

Recently, many pieces of popular culture have examined both personal and communal/cultural memory. This paper examines our contemporary cultural fascination with memory in an attempt to grasp why this is such a salient topic in the American cultural consciousness. This project considers three separate, contemporary meditations on memory in the digital age: Charlie Brooker’s anthology TV series Black Mirror, the viral podcast sensation Serial, and Showtime’s The Affair. “The Entire History of You,” an episode of Black Mirror, is set in a distant future wherein most of society has had a small device (a grain) implanted within them that records and stores every moment making them accessible for playback at any time. This paper will explore the intersections of memory and the digital in Brooker’s absurd distant-future. Additionally it examines potential causes for viewer obsession with the show. NPR’s Serial, a revisiting of a 1999 Baltimore murder investigation and subsequent trial, reached viral levels of popularity. On multiple occasions the podcast’s host, Sarah Koenig, expressed her frustration with many of the key figures inability to recollect the events surrounding the murder, as well the limitations on her own ability to ever be sure of what happened. Showtime’s The Affair is an hour-long drama with each episode split in two parts, each part from the perspective of either Noah or Allison, recollecting the same series of events, often with different details, regarding the development of their affair/relationship from the previous summer. Flashbacks, memories, and recollections have always been used as framing devices in texts, yet, these three texts demonstrate memory used as not just as a narrative device but also as an idea to grapple with. Memory is the tie that binds these texts together, and this paper explores how these texts illustrate a growing cultural fascination with memory.