Black Mirror 4.5. Metalhead


Values: thought experiment

Episode 4.5 shows dog-like programmed metal creatures. They look like a futuristic crash helmet – hence the name “Metalhead”. Obviously, their only job is to kill people. But they are well equipped, heavily armed, extremely mobile and equipped with a radar scanner. We see the fight for survival of Mrs. Bella. Ultimately she has no chance and does not survive. Even if she could do a dog, new ones keep coming up. By the way, what dogs just can not do is climb trees and that goes for the metalheads as well. There, Bella was able to go to safety for one night.

A thought experiment:

Suppose that it is inevitable that humanity will develop such machines (metalheads), they would not necessarily be vicious. Depending on which future vision we have, they would also be programmed differently. Let us look at different places (topos = greek) and see how such beings would act there.


Reterotopie: A future based on the good and the good of the past – “the good old days”. Everything should be as it once was. Sitting by the campfire, telling stories while caressing the dog. However, the dog would then be the “metalhead” and could be enormously useful as a tracker, protector, hunter or guard dog. Probably better than any biological dog – but without emotions. Or would they be installed?

Utopia: Is a very desirable world, but not yet reachable. Maybe sometime in the future. Much of it is not even imaginable today. Thomas More wrote in 1516 the novel “On the best state of the state and the new island Utopia”. At the same time, he coined the term utopia. According to him, it is a very beautiful world.
In our thought experiment, we now have to put the “metalheads” into a utopia – but how? Since in Thomas More’s utopia there are no crimes, no illnesses and nothing else bad, you do not need watchdogs either. But they would be well suited to keep the earth clean. Dispose of the waste right where it originates. In this utopia, the metal dog would eat all the waste, digest it into biological material and then withdraw it again. The metal dog would then be a garbage disposer.

Dystopia: is an unwanted world, but it can happen at any time. Aldus Huxley drew a dystopian society in his 1932 novel Brave New World.

In 2540 people are prepared for a life in the box. In addition they receive appropriate chemicals at birth.

The only purpose of life is consumption.

Whether sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. – any critical thinking has disappeared in the meantime. The highest caste is the Alpha Plus. People from this social class have the task to control all the lower (Epsylon Minus). In this task then the “metalheads” could be used. They would be police dogs.

Heterotopia: is a closed, real and effective place within a society. Michael Foucault introduced this term in 1967. He cites examples such as nursing homes, prisons, barracks, etc. A very consumption-oriented variant of a Heterotopie is the cruise ship. There, people show others their everyday behaviors, doing things they would never do outside. On a cruise ship, there is a very own, self-contained culture. The “metalhead” would be in a heterotopia a nursing assistant, service robots or prison wardens.

Apocalypse: Is a revelation or unveiling. In this sense, the term should actually be positively posed. But is not it because Christianity, under Revelation, has dealt with themes such as the end of the world, God’s judgment, or the end of time? Very well known was the Revelation of John. Therein, in chapter 8, the downfall of Babylon is predicted. Ancient Babylon was the sin itself from a Christian perspective. So God made sure that the “whore Babylon” was punished for her vices. “Babylon Berlin” is a TV series that started again three millennia later.
But there were also some real apocalypses on this earth. 65 million years ago, when a meteorite struck and eradicated the entire dinosaur population. 10,000 years ago, huge amounts of water were likely to have started moving and flooding parts of the continents (deluge).

The SciFi genre has also taken on this theme. Among other things, “Interstellar”, “Terminator”, “Independence Day”, etc. Today, it is rather post-apocalyptic topics that are processed cinematically. A few people have survived the Apocalypse and are now struggling to survive. Shown in “Tribute of Panem”, “Bladerunner2049”, or “Wall-E”. The world is almost destroyed and hardly viable. In just such a TOPOS plays the episode “Metalhead”.

Bubble: Is the place where every single person lives. His world of thought, his world view and his position in the world. As a result, there are 7.53 billion such bubbles. How it goes in such a bubble? You can not say that from the outside and you can not get into it unless it’s your own. But you can not get out there. A person’s thoughts may be traced back through behavior, language or facial expressions. But you can only guess. Black Mirror 4.5 presents itself in my bladder just as described above.

Readers may now pick up on this thought experiment themselves and reflect on how “metalhead” spans its bubble. Will probably be a little or radically different for everyone. A proof of why it is so difficult to understand yourself and others.

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