Illusions of Immunity

In an already classic episode of Black Mirror, called “Arkangel” and directed by Jodie Foster, a single mother has her daugh- ter grafted with a cerebral implant connected to a screen. The system, known as Arkangel, allows Marie to monitor Sarah’s every action, and also to suppress stimuli that might cause her daughter distress. The system is equipped with a filter that can blur any troubling vision or sound in order to make her perfectly “safe.” In this way Sarah grows up absolutely unaware of all the dangers that lurk along her way — starting with the barking of the neighborhood dog, which Arkangel prevents her from hearing. When Sarah turns ten, a classmate entices her to watch graphic violence and porn. With the system still operating in her mind, she is unable to experience the attendant mental pain, and decides to draw blood from her finger in order to figure out what the fascinating fluid really is. At this point, realizing the harm that her own extreme worry about her daughter’s vulnerability has caused her daughter, Marie disposes of Arkangel. (A psychologist tells her that it is anyway soon to be banned.) But it is too late. The implant cannot be removed from Sarah’s brain. There is no way back. Years later — Sarah is now fifteen — Marie suspects that she has been lied to about a party that her daughter was supposed to attend. Crushed with anxiety, she turns on Arkangel, on the pretext of checking that her daughter is safe — only to witness Sarah’s first sexual experience, peppered with the clichéd vocabulary gathered from the porn movies that she has been free to watch since she was left to her own devices. This horrific tale — a parable, really — addresses helicopter parenting as the

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