Pay-to-Play: The Utopia for Capitalists in Black Mirror's "Fifteen Million Merits"

Jacob Garrett Ball State University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Vanessa Rapatz Ball State University
Throughout the Cold War, propaganda from the United States portrayed this country as a capitalist utopia, a perfect place to live in which one could determine one’s own way in life and where anyone with enough drive and ambition could become rich. In this paper, I decided to investigate another conception of a capitalist utopia. I analyzed the society present in the episode “Fifteen Million Merits” of the popular British TV show Black Mirror under the lens of it being a utopia for capitalists, in which all of one’s abilities to find peace and entertainment and sustenance all come from their ability to contribute to the society among them and gain profits from said work. For my analysis, I compared the commune in which the citizens of “Fifteen Million Merits” live to those of the company towns that sprung up in the United States after the Industrial Revolution and compared the mechanics of this society’s economy to the concept of microtransactions in today’s world of video games, and I also included an analysis of capitalist psychology and how it applies to the Black Mirror episode. I come to the conclusion that, even though it seems quite futuristic and far away, the hellish world of “Fifteen Million Merits” is actually far closer than we may think, finding in its format the models of numerous different capitalist systems that have already created utopian situations for their founders at the cost of exploiting those who buy into them.
English Literature & Creative Writing
Oral Presentation

When & Where

01:45 PM
Jordan Hall 303