"Shut Up and Dance" & Psychology of Pedophilia
Hello, my friends! THIS is the next episode in our Black Mirror coverage: Season 4 Episode 3 "Shut Up and Dance." *SPOILERS* for this episode and every episode before. In this episode, Michael Drane (@upcmd) and Corey Stewart (@corstew91) welcome friend of the podcast, Ryan Lee. Ryan is a tech guru (to say the least) and has been on UPC many times to talk about hacking, so he's a great fit to discuss this episode of Black Mirror.... His previous UPC episodes include: What Hackers Do with Your Stolen Identity, The Death of Net Neutrality, DARK WEB: The Hidden Evil-Twin of the Internet, and How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Breach. These are our opinions on the episode, but we'd love to hear yours! Did you see the twist coming? Did you like this episode?
This episode was originally released on October 21, 2016 on Netflix with the rest of Season 3. It was written by Charlie Brooker and William Bridges, and directed by James Watkins. A lot of people compare it to "White Bear" from Season 2 of Black Mirror, because of the huge twist ending, where the protagonist becomes severely at fault. This is our recap of the episode and our opinions, though we would love to hear yours! (Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram)
The main character, Kenny, is played by actor Alex Lawther, who is also currently starring in the new Netflix series, End of the F*cking World and also Imitation Game where he plays the younger version of Benedict Cumberbatch's character.
In the podcast, we talk about Kenny's questionable age. Corey read online that he is 19 years old, though she never found proof of this in the episode as his age is not explicitly stated. Ryan notes that Kenny doesn't appear to be going to school but does have a job and in the episode, he hasn't begun driving yet. So Ryan took that as a sign that he's probably under 16. Although, maybe the U.K. has different driving rules? Michael says regardless, it's a little misleading.
Kenny looks extremely young, and we think that the creators of this episode want him to appear very young in order to make that harsh right turn of pedophilia even worse at the end.
In Shut Up and Dance, Kenny lives at home with his mom and sister. We see him go to his ho-hum job at a fast food restaurant and suddenly the shot jumps to the camera on his desk. As the audience, we are now aware that someone is watching him through his computer, but we don't know why, and he is still unaware. He pulls out some tissues and starts to masturbate.
Later, Kenny's sister borrows his computer to stream videos, and when he gets it back from her, there are a ton of pop-ups and ads. So, he downloads a computer-cleaning program called Shrive. Ryan, a cyber-security engineer, says it may have been Kenny's frivolous and ignorant choice to click on the very first link in Google that caused his whole computer to be hacked, but that it also may have been his sister stealing his computer and trying to watch illegal videos as well.
Either way, the hackers got in. We've discussed hacking many times on UPC, and every time we do it, we have Ryan Lee on to shed a harsh light on cyber-security. In his expert opinion, Ryan says it's probable that these troll-face hackers had no idea that Kenny was a pedophile before they hacked him. Ryan says it's likely that these hackers sent out viruses to anyone they could. THEN, once the hackers were in and digging through Kenny's computer and contents, they found that he was a pedophile and decided to enter him into this witch hunt.
Michael asks: What are the hackers motives? Yes, there are some things that are universally accepted as morally unacceptable, like having sex with children. But, at a certain point, there are other things that this group of hackers might find morally unacceptable, as well. Like...... cheating? Remember the Ashley Madison hack a couple years ago where the notorious website that helps you cheat on your significant other was hacked? This motive is clearly moral.
there are two reasons that hackers hack: Money and Morality.
In this case, it's dealing with morality (like the Ashley Madison hack) and what this group of hackers would consider sexual deviance. But in most cases, breaches and hacks happen for profit. Ryan says 99% of the time, a hack happens for money (or information—like someone's identity—that can be sold for money.
Michael asks Ryan: How feasible is it that someone could actually hack your computer camera and see you in the way that these troll-faces hacked Kenny's laptop camera? Ryan says there are many ways to do this. Especially if they have any sort of foothold into your system already, the easy part would be hacking your camera. And, although there is usually a light that comes on your webcam when it's active, there is known technology within the CIA, even, that has the ability to turn this feature off.
NOTE: Do NOT click on any link (especially within your email) that you don't know because this is the most common way that hackers get into your system.
In the episode, Kenny gets emails and texts that blackmail him into following orders. At this point in the episode, it seems as if an innocent masturbating kid is just scared people will see him doing these normal things.
*Easter Egg* He gets a text that says "YOU HAVE BEEN ACTIVATED"— In the background of this shot, we see his closed computer that has a Waldo sticker on it, from the season 2 episode, The Waldo Moment.
Kenny has to ditch work, go to a roof and meet a man that gives him a cake in a box. He heads to a hotel room, and gets to meet the second main character of the episode, Hector, played by the actor Jerome Flynn, who you might recognize from Game of Thrones !
Together, these two head to a bank, as directed by their digital captors, and are told via text to dig into that cake. (Michael said he's always wanted to do this.... dig his hands into a cake, or maybe a bucket of noodles but anyway.) Inside the cake was a gun, a hat and a pair of yellow sunglasses. Michael points out that he loves how the troll-hackers gave Kenny a disguise, but not really. These glasses and this ball-cap do not hide his face from the cameras or anything so why make him where it?
Corey looked into it and those glasses, with the odd yellow lenses, are typically used by people in the tech industry that stare at screens for a long time to protect their eyes from the harsh blue light.
'It has been proven that this light hurts your eyes and keep you awake. And the opposite of blue is orange or yellow, so the glasses are suppose to help balance out the color your eyes see. Similar to how the iPhone has a "night-mode" now that makes your screen kind of yellow. Anyway, maybe the yellow glasses are a commentary about Kenny's inappropriate misuse of technology to be a pedophile.
One of the most emotional and well-directed scenes of "Shut Up and Dance" is when Kenny breaks into the bank and is so terrified to be robbing a bank, that he shakily waves an unloaded gun at an old woman with snot dripping from his nose and urinates all over the floor. Michael points out that his urine is his DNA, so the police would be able to get him right there. Also, he didn't wear gloves and touched the door handle on the way out. Theoretically, up until this point, Kenny could have gotten away with it.
Michael and Corey discuss the cultural perception of a pedophile being an older, creepy male figure. Corey brings up the pedophile from Shameless *SPOILERS* for Shameless, Season 4-ish.
Lip and Ian essentially get a lynch-mob together when they learn that there is a registered pedophile in their neighborhood. This group of kids marches over to the house and knock on the door. A beautiful, tiny woman answers, and the group breaks up, essentially saying "never mind" to the whole things. This is woman is still guilty, though she's not an old creepy man, she IS STILL GUILTY of pedophilia (as we see later in the show in full grotesque detail), just like Kenny. Two underestimated pedophiles because of our cultural misperception of who a pedophile can be.
In the episode, Kenny is taken away from Hector and allowed to keep the gun, but forced to walk up a long hill into a forest and through a rickety old gate. There he meets a man who prompts him to fight. Poor Kenny is still unable to comprehend what's happening, asking the drone and the grown-man in front of him—"How do we know who's won?"
When he understands that he has to fight to the death, we learn (as the audience) that he is a pedophile like the man in front of him. Corey says she was shocked! She did not see this twist coming. Unlike in White Bear, the whole world seemed a little off, like there was more to learn and everything rounded out when the ending was revealed. In Shut Up and Dance, Corey says she never anticipated this twist, at all!
Did YOU anticipate that Kenny was a pedophile?
Kenny wins the fight and gets caught by the police anyway. What did he think was going to happen? Corey, Michael and Ryan discuss what his punishment might be compared to other pedophilia-related charges.
Michael ends the podcast with a theory that's been floating around: pedophilia as a sexual orientation. He says he used to work at a mental hospital, where he saw several patients that would describe to him their proclivity for children being the same as his proclivity for women. Michael says they would argue that this was something they were born with, something that was innate. Ryan says that even is this were the case, "If you are attracted to women, that still gives you NO right to rape a woman," and no child can actually consent because they don't understand.
Thanks for listening everyone! Let us know what you think and if you haven't already, leave us a review—it helps people find the show!