I Must Be Streaming (contains expletives)

Image“The movies have changed, and we are changing with them,” writes Wheeler Winston Dixon, the ludicrously-named author of Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access (2). There’s a lot of truth to that, and Dixon examines the pros and cons of the changes throughout the book. One of the cons in particular struck me on page 5; it is something I had not considered, and I find it legitimately scary:

what about all the classic films that aren’t available as streaming video? In essence, they will cease to exist. Netflix is banking on the fact that most people have no real knowledge of film history, so they’ll content themselves with streaming only the most recent and popular films (5).

Dixon continues the thought on page 6 with

In short, we’ll have the “top ten” classics, and the rest of film history– many superb, remarkable films– will gather dust on the shelf (6).

Shit. It really hit me when I took a step back and realized how true this already is. Streaming has indeed changed the type of movie I seek to watch, mostly because I let Netflix do the seeking. Again, to that I say, shit.

I took a look at the ‘Classics’ section of Netflix’s library, in the same way I would have scanned the shelf at the local Blockbuster 10 years ago. There was a pretty respectable list there, but as a young person without the knowledge of classic Hollywood that, say, Sara Victor or Josh Stenger have, I can’t really offer any expertise on what else should be included on Netflix’s list. (Here’s one I’ll be sure to check out).

As a young boy with a budding  interest in movies (and Nintendo 64 games), going to video rental stores was the highlight of my day as a child, unless that day also included eating Bugles off my fingertips. My mom would select movies for me to watch, and I’m not talking about kid’s movies– I had seen all the Bond films before I was 7, most likely. With Netflix replacing my mother when it comes to my movie selector, I’m realizing how lazy I’ve been. I’m promising myself that I will search deeper and deeper into the Netflix streaming library, and not succumb to the front page. They’ve already limited my selection as it is, so I will not stand for being any more limited– and I urge you all to do the same!

Movie viewing in the twenty-first century has become, more and more, a solitary vice in which one person tunes out the rest of the world and tunes in to a digitally perfect copy of a film, without having to participate in a group experience (23).

Shit. Reading this book has been a sobering experience. While I do my best to still go to the theaters, I can’t tell you how many films I’ve watched, in front of tv at home, alone. We all have, I’ll bet. I wager that watching a movie at home with friends is the worst way to watch a movie, based on people not being able to keep their mouths shut in that setting. At least in a theater, people are (mostly) respectful of the rest of the audience, only gasping/laughing/crying at appropriate times. I recall going to a party in 8th grade, and a movie was put on– Four Brothers, I want to say. It was as if the movie was simply there for background noise, even though we had all sat down in a dark room with popcorn and soda. I’m just realizing now that the screening was simply an excuse for us all to make out with each other. I should have kissed Cammy Sheehan that night. Shit.

In 2008, I got an iPod with 80gb of storage because I wanted to have every episode of Lost and The Office with me wherever I went. I even bought a DVD-to-MP4 converter, and spent hours converting. This just seems ridiculous to me now. why did I need them all? How satisfying is watching Lost on a tiny little screen 2.5 inch screen? I can answer that– it’s not. What else is so strange about it looking back is that I actually had to store the programs on my portable device, and not access them online. Six years later, I can watch LostThe Office, and thousands of other programs all on my phone. It’s kind of amazing– not that I ever watch tv or movies on my phone. Let’s hear what David Lynch has to say about it:

 

Work Cited

Dixon, Wheeler W. 1950- Author. Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2013. PDF.

image found here.

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