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~ Kenny, trying to rationalize his crimes to Hector prior to carrying out the bank robbery.
Kenny is the villainous protagonist of “Shut Up and Dance”, episode 3 of the third season of Black Mirror.
He is a 19-year-old who is blackmailed by an anonymous group of cybercriminals, forcing him into a shaky alliance with another blackmail victim. The two set out on a disturbing and bizarre trek across suburbia, carrying out their tormentors’ demands in order to keep their darkest secrets from getting exposed.
He was portrayed by Alex Lawther, who is known also for portraying James in The End of the F***ing World.
Personality and traits
Kenny was a soft-spoken, timid, and generally withdrawn teenager; he was often ridiculed and verbally abused by his work colleagues and was not known to have any friends at his place of work save for his manager, and did not understand many social cues including her visible interest in him. Beneath his generally unassuming facade, however, Kenny led a double life of sorts and was a pedophile who frequently acted on his urges. His interactions with children differed significantly from his personal relationships with colleagues, and he initially attempted to rationalize this amoral and illegal behavior to himself by claiming to have “only looked at pictures”. Kenny’s concealed nature as a pedophile was without a doubt his darkest secret and one that could very well ruin his life and tarnish his reputation if revealed to the world; accordingly, he went to great lengths in order to keep this aspect of his personality concealed, including implementing a lock on his bedroom door and keeping his sister away from his laptop. On one particular day, however, Kenny stumbled headfirst into an online trap—he found himself contacted by mysterious cybercriminals who possessed a webcam video of him masturbating to his stash of child pornography and threatened to release it to the world if Kenny did not comply with their demands. This paranoia and desperation to prevent his secret from getting out eventually led to him blindly following every single command the blackmailers gave him, including robbing a bank and engaging in a death fight with another pedophile.
Despite his many shortcomings, however, Kenny appeared to be genuinely kind-hearted and compassionate, as evidenced through his interaction with a little girl who misplaced her toy at the restaurant he worked at, although in hindsight his encounter can be taken in a completely different way owing to his attraction to children her age. Kenny also developed a positive, if a somewhat strange bond with fellow blackmail victim Hector during the brief period of time they spent together. As Lindsay’s older brother he also was entrusted by his mother to take on a protective role in their relationship and had good relationships with his family prior to his outing. Despite his slender and frail frame Kenny made impressive time when cycling to his assigned destinations, and was eventually able to overpower a clearly much stronger man in a fistfight to the death. When finally confronted with his true nature as a pedophile and faced with the prospect of dying a slower and more painful death at the hands of the Man in the Woods Kenny was overcome with guilt to the point where he attempted to commit suicide, only to find that the gun he had used for the bank robbery had been left unloaded all this time. It is highly likely that this ordeal, in particular the robbery and the fact that he killed another man, left Kenny scarred for life. Although he survived this horrific experience he would soon learn from his own mother that the hackers had exposed his pedophilia in spite of all that had been said and done by leaking the footage to his entire contacts list, and Kenny was left utterly shell-shocked at the realization that the rest of his life was irreversibly destroyed from that moment on.