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Black Mirror's "San Junipero" is a hymn to 80s nostalgia

Would you rather choose oblivion or eternal youth?

Black Mirror's San Junipero is a hymn to 80s nostalgia Would you rather choose oblivion or eternal youth?

Heaven is a place on earth.

Or rather, it is a fictional beach town called San Junipero. It's a virtual reality in which old people (for limited periods of time) and the dead (forever), can live an eternal youth travelling between different decades, thanks to a kind of system that relocates consciousness.

It's the future according to Black Mirror, which in the fourth episode of the new season tells the story of Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis), a shy nerd hiding behind a pair of glasses, slightly resembling Stranger Things' Barb. In an unmistakable 80s atmosphere we follow her inside the Tucker club, the disco version of that decade, with the poster of vampire teen movie "The Lost Boys" at the entrance and arcade video games such as Bubble Bubble, Top Speed, Pac-Man and "C'est La Vie" by Robbie Navil on air inside. Here, she meets and falls in love with Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), an extrovert Madonna-kinda girl. Thus, a journey to the conquest of her heart begins and goes through different ages, marked by the club's changes: "Ironic" sung by Alanis Morissette and the poster of Scream for 1996, "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue, Dance Revolution and the poster of The Bourne Identity for 2002.

We soon discover that nothing is as it seems and Kelly is actually an old widow who's dying of cancer, while Yorkie is a 60-years-old quadriplegic in a vegetative state since she was twenty, who has now planned her own death in order to pass the rest of time in San Junipero and live the life and the happiness she can't have in her real existence. The obstacle? To convince her lover to do the same, to choose an artificial happy future, to abandon her past, her husband and daughter who died before the launch of this immortalising technology. 

With its most sentimental episode, Black Mirror questions the sense of human mortality. Does it make sense to disappear into oblivion when you can be young again and keep on living, even though just virtually? Technology replaces religion and the afterlife becomes a Cloud system that contains souls and where, if you are lucky, parallel roads cross thanks to shared experiences and hide the ultimate truth, which is that we all die alone.

In San Junipero, heaven is a place in one's mind where you can live an eternal adolescence loop governed by nostalgia. It's the reconstruction of a collective memory filtered by movies and TV, a Greatest Hits of memories. As in the scene where Yorkie, looking for an outfit that'll capture Kelly's attention, embodies the many souls of the 80s through different looks, from Madonna's style to Kraftwerk, with the song "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths or "Do not You (Forget about Me)" Simple Minds as a soundtrack, offering a perfect combination of fashion, music and pop culture mirroring that decade. According to Netflix's series, eternity kind of matches with that nostalgia for the past that we call vintage.

It's the way we immortalise in this world our youth, better and more vivid than the present in which we are forced, evoked in every film's remake, in every album's cover, retro trend or amarcord tv show. It's the secret that made "San Junipero" Black Mirror's most beloved episode, that turned Strangers Things into a sudden cult and the collections of designers such as Gosha Rubchinskiy or Demna Gvasalia into successes.

The nostalgia for an idealised past is better than death, is the overcoming of death itself is a possibility of infinite Yorkie and Kelly eventually embrace both, soul mates, two hard drives romantically inserted in the system side by side.