What Black Mirror’s Hang the DJ Says About Love

What Black Mirror’s Hang the DJ Says About Love


“So much simpler when it’s all mapped out.” “Hmm.” Hang the DJ is Black Mirror’s take on Modern
Love — and it’s surprisingly more hopeful than
we might expect, at least in the context of Black Mirror. “Sorry. Fork.” “Amy.” “No, no, my name’s not fork.” “I guessed. It was just –” “It’s Frank.” The Season 4 episode works through our shared
anxieties and mixed feelings about the age of dating
apps. It paints the picture of an increasingly mathematical approach to love — and expresses our society’s fears that we
could be bringing about the death of romance. “OK, seriously, what are we meant to do?” “Query too broad. Please narrow.” “Well, I mean, are we just meant to, I don’t
know, like, just go at it?” “Define ‘go at it.'” [Scoffs] But in the end, Hang the DJ arrives at a sweetly heartwarming place. It’s Season 4’s San Junipero for its successful
romance featuring a couple who, in some form, end
up together. It reassures us that — even if some aspects may change drastically, and get a bit creepier
— the heart’s will to find love can overcome
the obstacles we throw at it. Because nothing helps love more than having a good strong obstacle to fight against. “Ever since we’ve met, this world has been
toying with us. It’s trying to keep us apart.” Before we go on, be sure to hit subscribe and click the bell to get notifications on
all of our new videos. Hang the DJ follows Amy and Frank inside a
mysterious “system” that promises to pair them with their perfect
match, through studying how they respond to arranged
relationships of predetermined lengths. “Shall we check our expiry date?” One thing that makes Hang the DJ a very successful
episode is the chemistry between the two leads, played by Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole. “One of us should get undressed first.” “Why only one of us?” “It will be funny.” Even though they have so little time to get
us invested in the romance, they quickly make the viewer want to see them
together. So the episode has the urgency of a good romance
— and it has a strong antagonist to the romance
in “the system” which is supposedly finding the perfect person that Amy and Frank are each “meant” to
be with. The couple ultimately decide to rebel against
the system — to choose each other over their mathematically calculated soulmate. “I don’t want whoever the system reckons
the one is, okay? I want you.” “I want you.” But the irony inherent in the test is while
the couple think they’re bucking the system, refusing to let it tell them their perfect
match, really they’re digital copies in a contrived
simulation to mathematically tell people their perfect
match. “What if that’s us and we’re stuck in a simulation?” “Well, how would we know?” It’s a clever contradiction within the matchmaking
app that for the copies to “win” the simulation and come out as a match, they have to disobey the system and escape
together. “It’s a test, I swear it is, and the two of
us rebelling together is something to do with passing it.” The copies have to do a very human-feeling,
reckless, boldly romantic thing. “Over the wall…” “Right over it, no matter what’s out there…” As Amy and Frank climb up the ladder to escape their controlled reality, briefly it looks like we’re in the final
scene of The Truman Show — who knows what great unscripted life awaits
them beyond. But instead it’s revealed that this bold
romantic gesture was also part of the simulation, part of the
math — paradoxically, it’s what they’re supposed
to do. It’s worth noting that building the obstacle
into the matchmaking isn’t as new as it might seem. We can actually see this idea in Shakespeare. In The Tempest, Prospero realizes that his daughter Miranda is falling in love with the new guy who’s arrived on their island,
Ferdinand. But Prospero knows that love struggles to
succeed without obstacles. So he purposely pretends to oppose the match in order to give the young couple a chance. “They are both in either’s powers; but this
swift business I must uneasy make, lest too light winning Make the prize light.” The app in Hang the DJ is essentially doing
the same thing Prospero does for his daughter — making it hard for the couple, so they can
decide if they care enough to fight for their love. Thus the idea of encouraging the couple to see the system as their antagonist is entirely logical. And if we look at romantic stories from Romeo and Juliet to Casablanca, from The Odyssey to Brokeback Mountain — in pretty much all of these the characters’
love is strengthened because they have to fight against huge obstacles that make them realize how much they really
do love. The title “Hang the DJ” comes from the
Smiths song “Panic” that plays at the end of the episode. We hear the lyrics. “Burn down the disco / Hang the blessed DJ.” So these words refer to the couple’s decision to not let the system, or the DJ, choose which
music they should dance to, which person they should love. Incidentally, Charlie Brooker’s idea for
the episode apparently came from imagining a dating app that works a lot like Spotify’s algorithm. But the irony of course is that this couple
is not only listening to a song that some kind of DJ digital or human has chosen, but they’re also relying on this app to
tell them if they belong together — so maybe their copies did, but the real humans are not at all hanging the DJ. The point is that true love feels like it’s
rebelling against the big world that won’t let it be together
— even if that’s not really the case. And if it was okay for Prospero to help Miranda
and Ferdinand, what’s wrong with a really good algorithm playing benevolent god to young lovers. Amy and Frank hear the words “hang the DJ” repeated over and over at the end, “Hang the DJ / hang the DJ / hang the DJ…” so they still feel like they’re choosing, like they’re rebelling — because love feels like a revolution every
time. Hang the DJ is raising questions about fate
and free will that have always been a part of romance — especially when it comes to the concept of
soulmates. Are two people “meant to be” together? And if so, who means them to be? Is there a fate, some kind of god or creator, who’s making people to be perfect matches? Amy and Frank think they’re choosing each
over fate itself, but it turns out “fate” is encouraging
them to do that — it’s just that this fate isn’t god or
destiny — it’s the algorithm of some dating app. Meanwhile, in addition to these thoughts about
fate, it’s so important that free will is part
of the equation in any love. “Wait, um, can we not check the expiry date?” “Er, why?” “I’m just sick of it. Like, the System’s just bounced me from bloke to bloke.” If we’re told for sure that someone’s
our soulmate, then by being with them we’re just following
instructions, basically acting like machines, like a robot obeying an algorithm. So always there’s this tension between on
the one hand finding or holding out for “The One” — that person who’s a perfect match — “Do have faith in the System, because it does
deliver.” and on the other hand, following our own wills
and hearts, taking a risk by choosing somebody and not
knowing if this is ordained by anything, knowing simply that it’s what I want. “Frank. I choose Frank.” So free will is why it’s key that the simulation
couple needs to defy the system in order to pass
the test, because real love moves us to take fate into
our own hands. The 99.8% match Amy and Frank get means their
copies escape together almost every time they take
the test. That “almost” is key — because 99.8%
is not 100. Just as the couples decide to be together
instead of holding out for whoever the system tells them
is perfect, the original humans who have just got this
result on their dating app will have to decide if they choose the 99.8%, or hold out for
some theoretical 100. This element of choice, the bold decision
to be with someone and not wait for the math to tell you it’s
an inevitability, is still part of the picture, and has to be
a part of love. Given that the app clearly understands the paradoxical complexities of romance, it may not even have a 100% match option for these reasons. And perhaps the Amy and Frank who are using
the app may actually struggle more as a couple than the copies in the simulation did — because they don’t have any bigger obstacle
than the 0.2% missing from their score. What’s interesting here is the way Hang
the DJ rehashes these age-old questions of romantic fate and
free will through applications of technology. So we get a version of the idea of soulmates, of being together in multiple lives or planes
of consciousness, of always finding each other again and again
— but this is manifested through tech. “It felt right. It felt like something locked into place, like we’d met before.” “Like it’s happened before, like it’ll
happen again 1000 times over and over again.” Even before they meet in person, it’s like
Amy and Frank have lived this whole story many many times and maybe on some remote spiritual level they
sort of know it. Maybe somehow they almost remember what they’ve
been through in those 998 other versions of themselves. And that’s part of what they’re communicating in this glance at the end of the episode. Despite all these romantic ideas and the presumably
happy ending, there’s also a much darker reading to the
story. Some viewers might focus on the fact that the actual couple we follow turn out
to be digital copies who are presumably deleted, or you might say, killed if they truly are
sentient copies of Amy and Frank’s consciousness. Some viewers might feel let down that the
stakes of this big sacrifice the couple went through weren’t what we
thought. We felt like this was happening over years, but in our world it was just two people checking each other out on their phones in
an instant. It’s all smaller and less momentous than
we’d hope. We have to quickly transfer our hopes from the specific digital copies of Amy and
Frank we’ve gotten to know onto their human originals, So the viewer might feel confused because
the way we process the romance narrative is very much about investing ourselves into a specific pair of people, and them coming
together. Yet even though it’s dark that the digital
copies of Amy and Frank just get erased, their reality does end with the joy of coming
together. And even though digital copies sound less
substantial to us than a so-called real person, numerous episodes of Black Mirror have proven
to us by now that if the copies are sentient, then we shouldn’t see them as any less real. What copy Amy and Frank lived through happened. So Hang the DJ isn’t glossing over the creepiness of some developments in modern or future love. “Everything happens for a reason.” “What reason?” “The system will be assessing your reaction
to the painful premature termination of a treasured
relationship and will adjust and improve its profile of your eventual chosen one accordingly.” “You’re a great comfort.” But it is giving us some hope that – like we saw in San Junipero — tech actually does have the ability to help
us connect better with each other, even if we more often use it to make things
worse. Hey, if an algorithm could really help you
find our soulmate, is it really such a bad thing that an “app” isn’t what you used to think of as romantic? Charlie Brooker said of the ending — “I hope the takeaway is that it’s playful
and hopeful.” It’s easy to predict the death of true romance in the age of swiping right, or to go the other way and say now dating should be easy, simple and perfect. “Must have been mental before the system. People had to do the whole relationship thing
themselves.” But this episode of Black Mirror preserves
that tension between our anxieties and hopefulness about the tech-driven future of love. Sometimes we may feel like throwing out the
DJ and going back to just finding music on our
own. But we can take comfort that there always
have been matchmakers in one form or another, and lovers will always feel like they’re
breaking through and rebelling against the matchmaker. Hang the DJ gives us new spins on the age-old questions of romance — do we really want to be with the person that we’re perfectly compatible with if that takes away our feeling that we’ve
dared to choose? And even if we think we’re making the brave
choice to follow our hearts, are we really free — or just following the mathematical certainties
of fate, anyway. As romance evolves with our technology, some good things may be lost, some bad things could improve, and underneath
it all the age-old questions of what the heart
wants and what’s meant to be will continue to
manifest in one form or another. “Yeah, let’s not check the expiry then.” “Yeah. It’s a deal.” “Deal.” “OK.” “Bring on les fishcake.” I’m Debra. I’m Susannah. We’re the creators of ScreenPrism. If you like our videos, please subscribe. Down there!

60 Comments

  • The Take

    February 10, 2018

    Support ScreenPrism on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=7792695
    Subscribe to keep up with our latest videos, and let us know what you want to see next!

    Reply
  • Cottonsocks434

    June 7, 2018

    This episode made me cry for some reason lol

    Reply
  • That DK Guy

    June 15, 2018

    That was my fav black mirror episode ever! And this is my Fav screenPrism episode ever seems fitting

    Reply
  • Jack Middleton

    June 21, 2018

    The way I thought about the app that got them the 99.8% match was that it searched for basically the majority of single people on the planet and that was the best match possible. I don't think it was the shows intentional message but that made me think they were saying love is a compromise and sacrifice with even a little luck thrown in. Like they were pointing out that even the best possible match for you on the planet still has a chance of not working out so you shouldn't go through life being unforgiving and searching for perfection.

    Reply
  • Alastair

    June 22, 2018

    You left out how some viewers feel that humans may be part of a simulation, like the protagonist in the episode. 😮

    Reply
  • Darren Horgan

    June 24, 2018

    Does anyone know the song at the beginning. Just a few cords on the piano

    Reply
  • m Luby

    June 25, 2018

    Surprised no mention of The Lobster.

    Reply
  • Raphael Sergiou

    June 26, 2018

    man got cucked tho

    Reply
  • Amen

    June 27, 2018

    Mini westworld

    Reply
  • Saswat Mishra

    June 29, 2018

    "99.8 percent is not a hundred" Has flashbacks where my Asian parents scold me on my grades by saying that line

    Reply
  • Dodo Foto

    June 30, 2018

    I like to think this is kinda what happens in real life. I don't see the episode depressing in any way. Those simulations are just proof that you have a real connection with that one stranger you meet in real life and who you realise later that he/she is The One. When you both feel like you met before…and yes, this feeling does exist. This "soulmate" feeling. Maybe it's the memories of the 1000 simulations you've been through before 😁 I can relate so much. I have my 99.8% match in real life.
    Thank you Black Mirror for not giving me nightmares this time!

    Reply
  • Callum Anon

    July 1, 2018

    I don't really like this episode, was hoping this video would help me find enjoyment in this episode but all it has done is confirm why I don't like the episode. It feels like an interesting concept for a love story, until the foreshadowing of the simulation like situation they were in and then the reveal that they are actually simulations. It felt like a cop-out, felt unsatisfying like their desire to be together against the system's apparent wants were pointless because they don't exist. It's the video game episode all over again, no proper ending, just a cop out that it was all dream/simulation. No conclusion just that nothing we saw actually happened. At least with the video game episode he experienced everything he saw over that brief time to kill him. It was at least experienced which is kinda dark which I love but this one felt very cop-out.

    Would be nice if season 5(assuming there is one) goes back to the roots of being dark existential technology thrillers like most of the other episodes are. S4 felt too nice and predictable. Except that serial killer badass girl, she was pretty dark, still predictable though.

    Reply
  • Tanja Buchholz

    July 6, 2018

    You two are great at this! So glad I found you!

    Reply
  • Moonbeam729

    July 8, 2018

    This was a really good episode. The end was so good. And now your explanation is kind of making me think about my own relationship

    Reply
  • Ross Wheeler

    July 11, 2018

    What about the ethics of creating, testing, and essentially killing thousands of digital consciousnesses​?

    Reply
  • Really?

    July 18, 2018

    great vod, but you earned yourself a solid downvote by cramming your subscribe propaganda into the middle of the fucking intro. Have some class, with the quality of your videos there is no excuse to employ tactics that autistic 12 year olds aren't even using anymore.

    Reply
  • Baffour Owusu-Ansah

    July 24, 2018

    Modern Love: Be atleast taller than hour Female counterpart. If not usually instant rejection.

    Reply
  • valar

    July 26, 2018

    Anyone disillusioned by dating apps and websites should remind themselves that we are in the beta testing stage of this stuff. Nobody really got serious about it until about 15 years ago. Dating apps are at the same stage that computer games were in the 80s, and we all see how that changed.

    Also, you should talk to people who lived a lot of their adult lives before the digital world. Once you got out of college, unless you were lucky enough to be in a job where you met a lot of people of the opposite sex, it got a lot harder to meet anyone. (And if you were gay – even harder.) Especially as you got older. My mom's friend graduated college in 1977, really wanted a relationship but just couldn't meet enough guys in her grade school teacher environment, was alone for 20 years, got sick with cancer at 42, finally met someone, but died in 2000 at 47. Do dating apps really sound so bad compared to that?

    Reply
  • Steven Beoethy

    July 27, 2018

    When they climbed the wall, I felt
    The same, exact thing; it was
    Completely comparable to
    The Truman show! Great episode!

    Reply
  • Misty Rose

    August 2, 2018

    I love this episode so much!!!! I was so scared that it was going to end up being like every other Black Mirror episode and end badly for them. Thankfully it was like San Junipero and ended on a positive note. It really invested me in the romance and I was terrified that everything would go to ruins, especially after Frank checked the expiration date and it started recalibrating 😢

    Reply
  • Jaspher Dansalan

    August 15, 2018

    Their chemistry is so 😍😍

    Reply
  • Victor Cruz

    August 18, 2018

    This was my favorite episode, and second was the San Junipero episode.

    Reply
  • Sumit Shrestha

    August 21, 2018

    i dont think digital copy of amy n frank getting deleted is depressing. Yes at the level of real amy n frank the whole simulation happened in the matter of swipe. But at the level of digital copy it was forever. as Einstein's theory of relativity it does not matter what happens in others frame of reference. from the frame of ref of digital copy that love is still real love and is 100% for that instance even at cumulative angle it is 1%

    Reply
  • Baby

    August 21, 2018

    It’s funny this video is in my recommended cuz I feel this way about someone I’ve met in this life. I feel like I’ve loved him in every life I’ve ever lived.

    Reply
  • Nuno Tiago Martins

    August 22, 2018

    There's a plothole in this episode: how did the simulated couple arrive at the value 99.8%? I mean, did the first simulated couple have no value at all? The second one had a 100% or 0% chance? The third one 0%, 50% or 100% and so on?? If the 99.8% in real life was obtain from 998 out of the 1000 couples in the simulation having "escaped the system" then shouldn't that mean the in-simulation value should've been 99.7%? Or, conversely, if the 99.8% in-simulation is indeed correct, then the simulation we're watching is the 999th couple escaping the system, therefore the real world should be 99.9%? Or, and this is my best and actually prefered explanation, the "real world" is just yet another simulation…

    Reply
  • Linda Ramirez

    August 29, 2018

    I’m a fur believe this happen after cookies were given rights and am hopeful they were put in a cloud or something after given rights

    Reply
  • Coccinata

    September 1, 2018

    Lol when I was watching this I was like, "Man, this is as good as the one that did Friends!" Then I scrolled down and found out it's the same channel. 😂 Great insights everytime and beautiful voice!😘 I'm subscribing! 😘

    Reply
  • arlyney

    September 3, 2018

    arlyney
    As many of you here in the comment section, this is my favorite episode of Black Mirror.
    When I first saw the episode, and in subsequent rewatches (☺️) there was something about that glance at the bar in the end that made me feel like they remembered the simulation and were happy that they made it out and get to be together in the real world.
    I love this analysis, and the thought that it’s just the first meeting that is quite powerful as well. They are just meant to be.

    The part where they are lying in bed together,
    « It must have been mental before the system… it’s so much simpler when it’s all mapped out » I found so poignant and powerful. Loved it. It speaks volumes ♥️

    Reply
  • Jose Crespo

    September 18, 2018

    Y’all are so dope love your channel 🤘✌️

    Reply
  • Tora Chan

    September 18, 2018

    With the amount of romantic options we have today (and even more we will have in the future), it is ridiculous to think someone will only want YOU

    Reply
  • HaifonixHDx PS4

    September 18, 2018

    One of the best Parts

    Reply
  • Corinn Heathers

    October 18, 2018

    I don't like the pervasive expectation that all romances must contain a lot of back and forth in plot to be considered strong or entertaining. I don't understand why people find the will-they-won't-they to be so interesting. I'd much rather see them get together and resolve the romance right away, then Fight Evil while being cute together. So much more interesting (and less anxiety-inducing) than "traditional" fighting/arguing/"hard-to-get" romance plots that take the entire story to resolve properly.

    Reply
  • Andréas

    October 19, 2018

    I see what y'all did there…"99.8% Spoilers Ahead" which is the same percentile as the leads chemistry lol

    Reply
  • salwa Aj

    October 20, 2018

    Love is strenghened by overcoming obstacles? I tend to believe that the existence of obstacles gives the illusion of love. Through litterature, we very early associate the idea of grandiose love with suffering and struggling..with ultimate sacrifices and impossible outcomes… this helps to build the illusion of live, ok, the state of mind favorable to love… some believe so much that obstacles strenghen live that they purposely creates tensions and stage fights within their couple to spice it up.. true love is the quiet long lived peace giving love, and the only way to have it is to steadily love oneself first, that self worth and self confidence give the proper foundations to built a healthy relationship where the other is appreciated for what he gives into the relationship (but not deseperately needed to give us purpose and value in life), and the other is tolerated for his flaws as long as they are not harmful.. but we need rand obstacles and emotional rollerco in order not to think leisurly and analize attentively the relationship, nor ourselves for that matter. Love is a distraction, a denial, a gateaway from our reality. It doesnot survive ling because reality always catchs up with us

    Reply
  • Anthony Mendez

    November 9, 2018

    How can they "remember" each other if they were all copies from the person's state before the very first simulation and thus each simulation is a blank canvas.
    Great episode, as usual. To this day, the song "Hang the Dj" still brings snowy flashbacks from last Winter.

    Reply
  • Calcifer X

    November 11, 2018

    Only clicked because of The Smiths reference

    Reply
  • Chrysaura

    November 16, 2018

    I think it's pretty vacant to describe this as "Season 4's San Junipero". It's a fine episode on it's own, clearly flawed in how it thinks compatibility can be measured, and suffers from being compared to San Junipero. That's the quick, easy, mindless comparison to make, without even considering why you need to compare it to define it to begin with. Successful couple…? Give me a break. Digital copies interacting in a space where they have no pressures from work, family, or all the mundane realities of life can't measure compatibility, no matter how fed up they get of a meaningless existence that's all about finding love. Black Mirror made an episode as dark as ever, and you should be able to feel that without the upbeat music telling you how to feel. I can feel it even when Heaven on Earth plays, if you insist on such a vacant comparison.

    Reply
  • Lo Riddell

    December 2, 2018

    this was the first episode of black mirror i ever watched. it blew my fucking mind. fantastic premise & writing.

    Reply
  • Octavia Blackthorn

    December 5, 2018

    This was actually my favourite episode of Black Mirror, 2nd only to San Junipero

    Reply
  • Amy

    December 16, 2018

    this fucked me up

    Reply
  • A Palenyy

    December 25, 2018

    "And in the end, we were all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness"

    –Christopher Poindexter

    Reply
  • Zinqzz

    December 26, 2018

    I love this episode for some reason frank reminds me of me the way he is. And that girl is so fucking cute. I want a girl like that

    Reply
  • Naomi Green

    December 30, 2018

    Could you please do a video on the new "Bandersnatch" episode?

    Reply
  • Bundes

    January 3, 2019

    This episode actually describes my life atm.

    Reply
  • Oisin Ryan

    January 12, 2019

    Anyone know what that spooky song playing in the vid was

    Reply
  • I ate Jimin

    January 14, 2019

    I feel so single and it hurts 😔

    Reply
  • Rags

    January 22, 2019

    My boyfriend and I had a 98% match, RIP little rebel simulations

    Reply
  • Green Inferno

    February 1, 2019

    This reminds me of the Futurama episode where Bender gets brainwashed.

    Reply
  • Oliver Abrahamson

    February 19, 2019

    One of my favorite black mirror episodes. Very underappreciated im glad somebody took the time to talk about it.

    Reply
  • Jasmine

    March 10, 2019

    You don't need technology for arranged dates/ marriages and keeping lovers apart, we have parents and relatives in India for that.

    Reply
  • 21:21

    March 15, 2019

    you explained this episode perfectly. more perfect than anyone.

    Reply
  • Miranda Genter

    March 24, 2019

    My favorite episode after Nosedive

    Reply
  • Eric Adrien

    April 13, 2019

    dude, this episode was really heartwarming

    Reply
  • Benjamin Slevin

    April 19, 2019

    1st time i watch one of your video. This episode of Black Mirror brought me here ! Nice analysis and nice voice. Pleasant video to watch, and very understandable.
    So thanks, From France 🙂

    Reply
  • Amazing Probst

    June 29, 2019

    I never realized John Shelby was in this episode before

    Reply
  • BK Fressh

    July 6, 2019

    So the system is like grinder but it works lol
    But what if there was a glitch in the system –

    Reply
  • Arcel Glenn Mayrena

    July 13, 2019

    This is my fave so far

    Reply
  • Shawn Michael Scott

    August 16, 2019

    best BM episode analysis out there, fantastic

    Reply
  • bighand69

    August 24, 2019

    That episode is every incels dream.

    Reply
  • Leandel DeFate

    August 26, 2019

    Asking someone if they are in love is like asking someone if they have had an orgasm. If they say "Well, I don't know…I think so, maybe" then the answer's NO. If they smile and say "Yes!!!!!!!!!!" the answers an obvious YES.

    Reply
  • Aaliyah Kassim

    September 2, 2019

    The story was dreadfully unrealistic and boring

    Reply

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