Netflix is a vast universe of a poorly curated section of videos on the Internet that exists in nearly every home with a broadband connection. Recently, I had been using it to watch older episodes of King of the HIll. Unfortunately, they hit their expiration date. My dad bought a smart TV, and I set up Netflix for him. A technological luddite if there ever was one, he’s devoured the service at an astonishing rate. When I ran across this small piece on The Dissolve about the way film students take in their curriculum, I was less surprised then I should have been.
Like Mike Singer, my developing years in terms of media entertainment were spent in the walls of a Blockbuster or a Hollywood Video. VHS had shifted to DVD by the time I got to middle school. Dial-up modems may have transitioned to the early stages of home broadband, the peer-to-peer sharing movement was in its infancy. Thus, I would find myself on many weekends in that Blockbuster looking at the new releases. I hadn’t been exposed to the expanses of foreign and independent film yet, so the shiniest titles appealed to me.
Singer echoes this point in the post, yet talks about how easy it is to access the Criterion Collection on Hulu Plus. The problem, he mentions in a subsequent paragraph, is about how a professor’s students never use Hulu Plus. Of course not, why would they sign up at what is the equivalent of Movie Gallery?
Netflix has been the king of home movies for a while now. Its biggest competitor, Blockbuster, is on its last legs. A decade ago, this would not have been thought about. Yellow-and-blue stores were everywhere, holding a monolithic grip on VHS and then DVD rentals. Family nights were planned around pizza and the occasional tape because of how much you would save compared to the theater. Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service was interesting, but why would you use it? Blockbuster was only a short drive away and no waiting. Then, with the advent of broadband and improved video streaming quality, Netflix made one of the biggest moves in the entertainment industry.
Netflix started a streaming service that came coupled with your subscription. You could watch as many movies as you wanted, a la carte. Everyone didn’t sign up at first–now it’s ubiquitous. Students in college now probably have faint memories of a brick-and-mortar store, perhaps picking up a favorite DVD as kid. When someone asks “Want to watch a movie?”, their mind most likely races to look for what’s on Netflix streaming. Given the clunky interface and loose categories, they’ll just look for whatever’s displayed in the “Popular” and “Recently Added” sections.
Students aren’t immune to this. Young adults who have finished college sometime within the last decade or so identify with Netflix. If it isn’t for an occasional movie to watch while bored, it’s to marathon Arrested Development or Orange is the New Black. Monolithic corporations don’t get evaporated. They get replaced.