S3E3: Shut Up And Dance

 

Recap

The episode opens with a woman leaving a pair of keys under the wheel of a parked car. Soon, she receives a text, and is gone. The scene moves to Kenny, a teenager who installs a malware remover onto his laptop, after his sister left him with a virus. Little did he know that the website he finds, “Shrive,” would leave him with a hacker.

Kenny sits in front of his laptop camera, and is recorded masturbating. He then receives an email from an unknown contact demanding he reply with his phone number, or the video will be released to all of his contacts. Complying, Kenny waits anxiously for the signal that he has been “activated.”

Kenny goes to work, receiving a text demanding that he go to a parking garage at noon. He makes it just in time to meet another one of the hacker’s victims, who hands him a box with a cake inside. Texting a code to the unknown number, he is told to deliver the cake to a man in a hotel. He finds Hector, who turns out to be another victim, being threatened with infidelity secrets. Hector must work with Kenny to complete the demands.

They are told to retrieve the keys from the parking garage that the woman had left. Next, they receive texts to look inside the cake. Inside is a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and a gun. They must rob a bank. Hector is the getaway car, while Kenny goes to rob the bank. Despite lost control over his bladder, he comes back with the money.

Hector soon receives texts to destroy the car, alone.  Kenny must bring the cash to the drop off point, where he meets another hacker victim. The man has a drone, and tells him they must fight to the death, while the drone watches. The winner would take the money. Before the fight begins, the man stopped to ask Kenny what the hacker had against him, but appeared to already know. Although Kenny said he just looked at some pictures, the man said, “How young were they?” He had been masturbating to child pornography.

Kenny still had the gun from the robbery, turned it on the man, and then on himself. It was empty. The two began to fight as the drones sat watching.

All of the victims believed the texts were over and they were safe, but soon receive messages of troll faces. Their secrets had been released. Kenny walked away after evidently winning the fight, to receive a phone call from his mom. Videos of his relations with child pornography had been released and he was apprehended by two police officers.

Themes

1.Concept of privacy in a media dominated world-Today, debates are often sparked regarding the trade-off between the need for security and personal privacy, and where that line is blurred. As college students seeking future employment, we are constantly reminded not to share things online we “wouldn’t want an employer to see.” It is a media dominated world and access to private information is just a click away. Although Kenny’s case is illegal and extreme, viewers may be fooled into thinking he is just an innocent boy whose privacy was invaded by a hacker. It is pretty safe to assume that with the prominence of the internet, someday we may get hacked. Regardless of privacy settings, you may not be doing illegal things, but personal information may easily be released. The episode is just another reminder to be careful with what is shared online.

2.Shame as a form of leverage-Shame is the leverage for the unfolding plot in this episode. Hector claims he does not want to lose his children, and Kenny appears to worry about what the video would do to his mother. Most of the actions are illegal, but the hacker does not threaten with consequences from the law. The characters do not mention fear of the law, Kenny is even brought to the point of robbing a bank, and attempted suicide rather than be faced with the shame of what he has done. Their shame drives them to comply to the demands of the hacker. A modern culture where people are largely focused on being judged and embarrassed drives Kenny and Hector to do terrible things. Are these things even more terrible than those being held against them?

3.An eye for an eye?-Throughout this episode, viewers were left to decide for themselves whether the hacker’s demands were worse than the secrets being held against the “victims.” The hacker chose people who were involved in illegal acts—other than the CEO and her racist emails. Although the secrets were revealed in the end, and technology was used to show their true colors, they were forced to commit horrible crimes in the process. The episode comments on how technology brings power, and with that power may come the belief that it is acceptable to take the law into your own hands.

 

 

JOUR 325 says . . .

Questions

  1. In the beginning I sympathized with Kenny.  It is played off as though he did something harmless and is being unfairly punished.  Did you feel any sympathy once you found out what he had really been looking at?
  2. These “victims” had all been hiding immoral, indecent, or illegal acts.  Can the invasion of privacy be justified because people were brought to justice?  Would you say the hacker was trying to be somewhat of a vigilante?
  3. Hector claims he does not want to lose his children, and Kenny appears to worry about what the video would do to his mother.  Does the determination to hide their secrets stem more from a sense of shame and embarrassment or consideration for those who would be hurt by their actions?
  4. Although the victims all acted immorally, how far is too far in terms of invasion or privacy?
  5. Any internet user is subject to being hacked.  Webcams are hacked and GPS systems are tracked.  But if big companies are the targets of hacking, where do publications begin drawing a line between newsworthy information and slanderous information?

 

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