“Hated in the Nation” is impressive in the way that it walks the fine line between reality and fiction. The story begins with the death of a journalist whose controversial article had incited hate from the public. At the scene of the crime, the viewers formally meet the protagonist, Karin Parke, and her partner, Blue Coulson, who are detectives on the case. As the pair works to solve one murder, a new person is targeted each day, and they soon discover that the victims are determined through drumroll Twitter! The perpetrator started a “game” on Twitter that encouraged users to tweet hate messages about people with the hashtag #DeathTo. In this unpopularity contest, the person with the most #DeathTo tweets is awarded death.
The writers did a great job at illustrating the cause and effect of cyberbullying through the perspectives of the cyberbullies and the victims. Anyone who has access to the internet can be a cyberbully. With today’s technology, it’s quick and easy to send mean or threatening messages online. You can find hate comments on any social media platform because people do it on a whim, for casual fun even. All you need is one hashtag, a target in common, and the hivemind does the rest of the work. People get defensive when they’re confronted for cyberbullying; they like to argue that they’re using their freedom of speech, or that they didn’t do anything wrong, or worse, that the person on the receiving end deserves it. As such, people don’t realize that what they’re doing is cyberbullying, and in turn, it becomes normalized. When we define cyberbullying as individual acts that only “bad” people do, we conceal the everyday ways that people or groups of people cause harm to others online. These messages often mean nothing to the cyberbully, but they can mean a lot to the receiver. The weight of one or a hundred hate messages can significantly damage a person’s mental health and cause psychological problems. The writers convey that there should be consequences for how we use technology, and those who are implicated in the crime should be held accountable for their actions.
Although this is the longest episode in the Black Mirror franchise, we don’t learn much about the characters apart from their personalities because they’re always working on the case. My first impression of Karin was that she was a cold and apathetic detective who’s skeptical at anything that doesn’t fit her worldview. She doesn’t appear to be happy with her life, field of work, or with the prospect of being shadowed by Blue. Opposite of Karin is Blue, an eager and extremely competent trainee detective who’s a righteous person with an open mind. At first, I disliked Karin and absolutely loved Blue, but as the story progressed, Karin’s curt behavior lessened, or I just got used to it. Regardless, she becomes more cooperative and starts to expand her perspective to think like the perpetrator. She even cracks a slight smile at the end, which may not seem like much, but it’s an improvement.
If you read my review on “The National Anthem,” you will notice that “Hated in the Nation” shares some similarities with it. Both stories involve the Prime Minister, a myriad of moving pieces, a sense of urgency, and a perpetrator who’s using social media to make a bold statement. However, with a longer run time and a story that spans over multiple days, “Hated in the Nation” is better executed than “The National Anthem.” The writers were able to successfully incorporate numerous scenarios and plot twists without derailing the storyline or making it too unrealistic. The result was a nuanced, well-thought-out, and well-paced masterpiece.
I love a good murder mystery, so I enjoyed every minute of “Hated in the Nation.” It’s one of the rare Black Mirror episodes that you can watch mindlessly since the detectives do all of the analysis for you. I would re-watch this just for fun if nothing else because it was interesting and exhilarating to watch the mystery unfold and come together at the end. After taking all of these factors into consideration, I rate “Hated in the Nation” 4.5/5 stars.
After reading this review, consider the following: is technology a problem in and of itself, or is it the people who design and use it, or is it both?
What do you think of “Hated in the Nation”? Leave a comment below!
Cover Photo: screencap of “Hated in the Nation”