Got Black Mirror’s ‘Hang The DJ’ Episode On The Brain? Us Too

How long until we let technology completely control our love lives?

Black Mirror Hang The DJ

by Jazmin Kopotsha |
Updated on

‘Hey’ was once an innocent, fleeting greeting. It was nice, you know? Friendly, but not too friendly. As much a conversation starter as a breezy throwaway mouthed across the street. Three letters, one syllable, zero pressure. But then Bumble came along and fucked it for everyone. It turned ‘hey’ into an awkward, lazy yet loaded one-liner that doesn’t stand up against the lofty expectations of digital dating.

Oh, to live in a world where we don’t have to tirelessly type (and re-type) an opening line worthy of a response from someone we don’t even know we’re compatible with. A world where swiping your thumb the right or wrong way didn’t mean potentially mean missing out on someone who would’ve been a dream IRL. A world where laborious and emotionally draining relationship admin was taken out of our tired, RSI ridden hands. A world like Black Mirror’s world…

Just when it felt like technology was already unbearably intertwined with the fate of our love lives, a new season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror landed in our lap(tops) to shake up perceptions, propel us into the future and remind us that we ain’t seen nothing yet.

WATCH: Black Mirror Hang The DJ Trailer

Hang The DJ, Explained

This year’s alternate reality check comes in the form of_Hang The DJ,a lighter, almost comedic episode among this season’s more sinister offerings of_USS Callister,Metalhead_and_ArkAngel. We meet Amy and Frank who, through a digital assistant type dating app thing called 'The System', are matched.

They seem to get on very well. Banter is rife and awkward first date vibes are as endearing as anyone could hope for. Date location is pre-arranged, all dates seem to happen at the same dimly lit, surface level romantic restaurant. Dinner orders are already taken care of by Coach, the Siri to* Black Mirror's The System, *who has a backlog of information about it's human's likes, dislikes and so on.

But the catch (this is Black Mirror, there’s always a catch) is that The System has decided that they’re only allowed to spend 12 hours together. Yep, ever relationship has an expiry date. Once the allotted time passes, regardless of how well you think you've hit it off, you're split from your temporary match to spend some recreational time alone (Amy likes to skip rocks across the water) while you while you wait to be told to return to the restaurant to meet your next suitor.

Black Mirror Hang The DJ

This continues until The System has gathered enough data from your various relationships until it matches you with whoever it decides is ''The One'. No ifs, no buts, no swapsies. You have to follow the rules. If you don't there are men dressed in black carrying devices that look like tasers on hand to keep you in line.

Beyond the restriction and obvious trouble with submitting the fate of your interpersonal relationships to a digital pod thing, Hang The DJ is probably one of Black Mirror's most uplifting. And while it's not without it's twists and existential turn, Charlie Brooker explained that the change in tone was intentional. Speaking at a screening in December, he said: 'This season, the writing of it started in July 2016, so there were episodes being written all through the American election... and everything was looking horrible'.

'I genuinely thought, I don't know what state the world's going to be in by the time these [episodes] appear, and I don't know how much appetite there will be for nothing but bleak nihilism. If you're living in a dystopia, you don't necessarily want to look at another one. So I sort of thought, let's maybe not make them all [depressing].'

*Hang The DJ *isn't as traditionally bleak as you might expect, but the levels of relatability and eery references to what the world dating looks like right now hits hard. Systematic, functional and desperate to fit a prescribed mould of what the internet says love looks like. If you've watched the episode and are still trying to work it all out, don't worry, so are we.

Truth be told, we'll probably be scratching our heads praying for answers to what it all means for a long time yet, but to give you a kick start, here are some plausible answers (and spoilers) to the burning questions you're bound to have by the time you get through it.

What does ‘Hang The DJ’ mean?

We think that the title is a reference to the song *Panic *by The Smiths. The lyric 'hang the DJ' is repeated a fair few times and it's also the song played in the last scene and closing credits of the episode. The lyrics continue on to say: 'because the music that they constantly play / it says nothing to me about my life', so if you want to get super analytical, perhaps The System is the DJ in question and perhaps it a comment on the fact that there's only so much that technology can know and reflect about our true selves. Deep, isn't it?

Hang The DJ Cast: Recognise Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole?

Georgina Campbell plays Amy in Hang The DJ, but you might also recognise her from *Electric Dreams *which was on Channel 4 earlier this year, and *Broadchurch *in which she plays D.C. Katie Harford. If you cast your mind all the way back to 2014, you might also remember her role in Murdered By My Boyfriend too.

Hapless Frank is played by Joe Cole of *Peaky Blinders *fame. Fun fact: Joe was also in *Skins *back in the day. He was in the third installment (after Jack O'Connell and Kaya Scodelario).

Black Mirror Hang The DJ

What is The System? Are Frank and Amy real?

The System seems to be an online dating platform, naturally quite unlike anything we've ever seen before. If the episode's uncharacteristically positive ending is anything to go by, being in The System is like playing a game where an AI version of yourself dates a series of people who are pre-chosen by The System for you. Then, as relationships fail or blossom, it uses that data to work out who your final match should be aka 'The One'.

But the curve ball is thrown when Frank and Amy decide to defy the system and escape up and over a giant wall and we realise that there are infinite versions of the couple who seemingly have all been in The System at various points and come out the other end with varying compatibility scores.

Then we're transported to the other side of the platform into what we can only assume is 'real' life where Frank and Amy appear to be meeting at a pub for what I'm going to say isn't the first time. So, is The System just a relationship test to work out if you're compatible with the person your with as opposed to a dating platform? Is it a way to work out if the grass is really greener in another relationship? We're unsure. But we can definitely get on board with the underlying stream of soppy thought that champions breaking the rules to follow your heart. You know, if that's really what happened there.

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Where Was 'Hang The DJ' Filmed?

In a revelation that makes the whole episode seem a lot less sinister than it seems while Frank and Amy are in The System, *Hang The DJ *was actually filmed in Surrey, of all places.

All of that time the characters spend in the park - seemingly the only recreational location within the weird Tinder style simulation - is in a little country park called Painshill, at some green and idyllic 18th Century stately grounds. Who'd have thunk?

**Follow Jazmin on Instagram **@JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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