• Lachlan Robb Griffith University


Science fiction arguably has an effect upon society’s understanding of technology and, inevitably, its fear of technology. Exploring the technophobic landscape of Charlie Brooker’s anthology Black Mirror, the author draws upon a frame of cultural legal studies to analyse the role of humanity, law, and the biopolitical in the face of advancing technology. This paper takes a deep exploration of what it actually “means” to kill another and the role of technology in making is both physically and psychologically easier to kill. The text ultimately “makes strange” an audience’s expectations of the genre in order to critique the role of technology in an arguably dystopian future. This is a method designed to force an audience to actually analyse the role of technology in their lives and society, rather than simply clicking on the proverbial “accept terms and conditions” button.



A Articles/Books/Reports

Achenbach, Joel, ‘Driverless cars are colliding with the creepy trolley problem’ The Washington Post (Online, 29 December 2015) <>

Agamben, Giorgio, Homer Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford University Press, 1st Ed, 1998)

Agamben, Giorgio, ‘Means Without End: Notes on Politics’ in Sandra Buckley, Michael Hardt, and Brian Massumi, Theory out of Bounds, (Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino trans, University of Minnesota Press, 2000)

Agamben, Giorgio, Stasis: Civil War as a political Paradigm (Stanford University Press, 2015)

Aldiss, Wilson and David Wingrove, Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (Atheneum, 1986)

Allue, Sonia, ‘The Aesthetics of Serial Killing: Working against Ethics in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1988) and “American Psycho” (1991)’ (2002) 24(2) Atlantis 7

Asimov, Isaac, I, Robot (Grossett & Dunlap, 1950)

Asimov, Isaac, The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories, (Doubleday, 1st edition, 1976)

BBC News, ‘Rwanda Jails Man who Preached Genocide of Tutsi “Cockroaches”’, BBC News (online, 15 April 2016) <>

Bishop, Kyle, ‘Technophobia and the Cyborg Menace’ (2008) 19(3) Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 349

Borges, Jorge Luis, Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings (New Direction Publishing, 1962)

Bourgon, Jérôme, ‘Abolishing Cruel punishments: A Reappraisal of the Chinese Roots and Long-term Efficiency of the Xinzheng Legal Reforms’ (2003) 37(4) Modern Asian Studies 851

Bousquet, Antoine, ‘Chaoplexic Warfare or the Future of Military Organization’ (2008) 84(5) International Affairs 915

Campbell, Timothy, ‘“Bios,” Immunity, Life: The Thought of Roberto Esposito’ (2006) 36(2) Diacritics 2

Cohen, Eliot, ‘What Combat Does to Man: Private Ryan and its Critics’, The National Interest (online, 1 December 1998) 85 <>

Cohen, Ian, ‘Muse: Drones’, Pitchfork (online, 9 June 2016) <>

Derrida, Jacques, Rogues: Two Articles on Reason (Pascale-Anne Brault trans, Stanford University Press, 2005)

Dick, Phillip K, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Doubleday, 1968)

Donde, Jay, ‘Self-Driving Cars will Kill People. Who Decides who dies?’, Wired (Online, 21 September 2017) <>

Dowd, Maureen, ‘Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade To Stop The A.I. Apocalypse’ (April 2017) Vanity Fair (Online, April 2017)


Esposito, Roberto, Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy (Timothy Campbell trans, University of Minnesota Press, 2008)

Fassin, Didier, ‘The Politics of Death: Race War, Biopower and AIDS in the Post-Apartheid’ in M Dillon and A Neal, Foucault on Politics, Security and War (Springer, 2015)

Foucault, Michel, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the College De France, 1975-76, (David Macey trans, Picador, 2003)

Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality: Volume 1: an Introduction (Robert Hurley Trans, Pantheon Books, 1978)

Golsan, Katherine, ‘Murder and Merrymaking: The "Seen" of the Crime in Renoir's 1930s Cinema’ (2007) 32(2) Film Criticism 28

Grossman, Dave, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (Back Bay Books, 1995)

Hibberd, James, ‘Black Mirror showrunner explains season 3 endings’, Entertainment Weekly (online, 12 December 2018) <>

Lechte, John, and Newman, Saul, Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights: Statelessness, Images, Violence, (Edinburgh University Press, 2013)

Leiboff, Marett and Mark Thomas, Legal Theories: Contexts and Practices (Thomas Reuters, 2nd Ed, 2014)

MacNeil, William, Lex Populi: The Jurisprudence of Popular Culture (Stanford University Press, 2007)

Marshall, S L A, Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000)

McGowan, Michael, ‘Driverless cars: safer perhaps, but professor warns of privacy risks’, The Guardian (Online, 22 September 2017) <>

O’Grady, Siobhan, ‘Rwandan who called Tutsis Cockroaches’ in 1992 Gets Life Sentence’, Foreign Policy (online, 15 April 2016) <>

Olsen, Niklas, ‘Carl Schmitt, Reinhart Koselleck and the foundations of history and politics’ (2011) 37(2) History of European Ideas 197

Peters, Timothy, ‘Reading The Law Made Strange: A Theological Jurisprudence of Popular Culture’ (PhD Thesis, Griffith University, 2014)

Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein (Dover Publications, 1994)

Shklovsky, Victor, ‘Art as Technique’ in Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Articles, (Lee Lemon and Marion J. Reis trans, University of Nebraska Press, 1965)

Solon, Olivia, ‘Petya’ Ransomware attack: What is it and how can it be stopped?’ The Guardian (Online, 28 June 2017)


Sulleyman, Aatif, ‘AI is likely to destroy humanity, Elon Musk warns’, Independent (online, 24 November 2017) <>

Wells, H, G, The Time Machine (William Heinemann, 1895)

Wilkinson, Alissa, ‘Black Mirror Season 3, Episode 5: “Men Against Fire” is a warning from the past about our future’ (Online, 21 October 2016) Vox <>

Zetter, Kim, ‘What is Ransomware? A Guide to the Global Cyberattack’s Scary Method’ Wired (Online, 14 May 2017) <>

B Other

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, (Warner Bros, 2001)

All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal Studios, 1930)

Bicentennial Man, (1492 Pictures, 1999)

Bladerunner (Ladd Company, 1982)

‘Brian’s a Bad Father’, Family Guy (Fuzzy Door Productions, 2014)

Catch-22 (Filmways, Paramount Pictures 1970)

Full Metal Jacket (Harrier Films, 1987)

I, Robot (Twentieth Century Fox, 2004)

IMDB, ‘Black Mirror’, Black Mirror (Web Page, 2019) <>

Macquarie Dictionary (7th ed, 2017)

‘Men Against Fire’, Black Mirror, (House of Tomorrow, 2016)

Nava, William, ‘Vagueness: The Sorities Paradox’, William Nava (Blog Post, 28 April 2017) <>

Paths of Glory (Bryna Productions, 1957)

Platoon (Hemdale Film Corporation, 1986)

Saving Private Ryan (Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures, 1998)

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Columbia Pictures, 1957)

The Guns of Navarone (Highroad Productions, 1961)

The Terminator (House of Tomorrow, 2016)

Tora! Tora! Tora! (Twentieth Century Fox, 1970)

Westworld (MGM, 1973)

Westworld, (Bad Robot, 2016)

: A Space Odyssey (MGM, 1968)

: A Space Odyssey (Hutchinson, 1988)