The Netflix Thing


So, I tried the Netflix instant-play thing last night. I watched David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. on the recommendation of a friend. I liked the first five minutes. But it felt pretty dense, and I am sort of ashamed to say, I fell asleep by minute twenty-nine. I can’t quite make up my mind though, was it the movie or the Netflix that put me to sleep?

I’ve fallen asleep at movies before, sure, but I’ve always felt guilty about it. I have a free subscription to Netflix right now, and really I can watch as many movies as I want. But somewhere in the midst of that plethora of choice, I have lost something of my movie bug.

The chase is gone. The browsing, the research, the minutes spent in a Hollywood Video or a Blockbuster are reduced to a couple of minutes on the computer. And I miss that experience! I love the idea that I would have to check out King Vidor’s The Crowd from Cinephile in West LA on VHS just so I could watch it on a friend’s scratchy set in San Gabriel. Or I like receiving movie advice from the clerk on roller skates at Old Bank downtown on a lost Depression-era classic that I just have to watch.

It’s almost the same thing with music. A friend in high school gave me The White Stripes’ Elephant on CD; it remains one of my most vivid memories of those years. I must have played that album three thousand times on my stereo at home, which drove my mom crazy. It’s just not the same downloading something from a website and playing it on iTunes. You can talk up and down about the benefits of the internet age, but part of the value of the product is lost in the absence of the physical object—at least for me.

Tell me if this is just me. What do you think about the disappearance of plastic? Are you happy, sad? Can you identify?

And what will this mean for the movies? Will people still pay a premium when most of the content is right there on the internet anyway?

8 responses to “The Netflix Thing

  1. Mmm, I dunno. I’m one of those consumers that loves the convenience of things delivered direct to me. I mean, I DO enjoy just browsing in stores sometimes (particularly bookstores) but 80% of the time, I know what I want and I just need an easy way to get it.

    That said, I do remember how much I loved going to Blockbuster on a Friday night with my parents to pick out a movie or two for the weekend…

    • True true, I also like the convenience of watching premium cable episodes I would otherwise never get to watch!

  2. you should read this:

    a little outdated, but still true.

    1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

    2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

    3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

  3. haha, this is great. Thanks for posting this, love it.

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Netflix Thing « When Pico Met Sepulveda ( --

  5. For $8.99/month, Netflix is a god-send for this budget constrained New Yorker. But it does change the “experience” and that takes awhile to get used to. However, when the choice is adjusting to Netflix or playing with your pet rock while Pa tries to get a radio signal, I’ll take Netflix any day.

  6. It seems to me the experience is best done with people than by yourself, as that searching sensation can be mimicked more or less by browsing the friends’ favorites or recommended links. There is a element of fun, though, in hanging with friends at a video store or movie theater, with no expectations, and just tossing out ideas on what to watch.

  7. @ Rebecca – Is it really between the pet rock and netflix in terms of entertainment options these days? In that case, I choose netflix!

    @ Kevin – Yes, I think you lose something browsing online; when everything’s available, what’s the point of being picky? If you don’t like one thing, there’s another waiting to go.

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