2/7/20

I Have NEVER Been Happier To Have A Think Piece Ruined (Bye Netflix Autoplay Previews)

Those Netflix autoplay previews are FINALLY DEAD!!!

I wrote this in December. Then I ignored it. I let it rot on my desktop until it was no longer topically relevant. What can I say? It's my superpower as a writer. (RIP my essay about what I hoped Picard would bring to the small screen.)

AND THEN THIS EARTH ANGEL FIXED EVERYTHING, both solving the problem itself and saving me from having to go into research and redraft mode. Please note my very professional note to myself to "insert brain science" in the essay below.

Meet Sarah Hollowell. Truly, a queen. She saved the day.

I now present to you, the unfinished think piece that totes doesn't matter anymore. Thank GOD.

Bye, Netflix

The greatest thing about Netflix was that you could pick and choose whatever you wanted at your convenience. Back when the streaming phenomena first began, the biggest revelation was that you didn’t even have to leave your house. I was born in 1982 and for the majority of my young life, if we wanted to watch a movie we had to either:

a. check it out at the library

b. rent it at the “video store” (You know, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, the mom and pop down the street…)

c. go to a friends’ house who had cable or a satellite dish, or…

d. buy it at a box store

Make no mistake, this won’t be an essay about me shaking my fist to the sky. Things change. Change is good. Remember that.

This is an essay about pushy salesmen. Not good salesmen. Pushy ones. The kind who become increasingly aggressive with you the more they notice you pulling away. That’s what Netflix has become. In a world where we can have almost anything we want nearly instantaneously, Netflix is choosing to fall behind the times intentionally.

Autoplay isn’t exactly the devil. And since it’s nearly ubiquitous, I think we’ve all learned to simply mute our laptops or phones. But it’s not innocuous either. (Insert brain science) 

When Netflix first initiated autoplay previews, I wasn’t the only one wondering, “Commercials? Isn’t this what I pay to avoid?” (Insert other people who were frustrated.)

But it’s a private company. It can do what it wants. Even if what it wants to do is loud, distracting, and infuriatingly quick on the draw. And initially, the service it offered was greater than the annoyances it began to push through said autoplay previews. Until today. Today, when I was touching up my roots and my gloved hands COULDN'T STOP THE MOVIE AND TV MACHINE from playing something I didn't want to see.

I’ll tell you what finally sent me over the edge. “Don’t Fuck With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” That’s what. A movie I never wanted to see about a crime I never even knew existed before it autoplayed itself into my brain forever. And now it’s in there. I'm just too sensitive to know certain things even exist. And cat murder is definitely one of those things. 

I’m starting to understand how conspiracy theorists form their crazy conspiracies. (flesh this out) I’ve been tired of being sold true crime via these autoplay previews. And edgy action. Now, it’s a true story about a serial killer who filmed himself murdering cats. And they leave footage from the actual video in the preview. Nevermind the fact that the poster makes the movie look cute. Funny, almost.

It's not cute you guys. Repeat, not cute. DO NOT WATCH if you're a fellow sensitive soul.

I’m not advocating for censorship. I’m staunchly against that. Plus, Tipper Gore already tried it back in the day and it didn’t work out so well. I often wonder how she’s doing with music today. Sincerely. If Twisted Sister was hard for her, I sort of hope someone placed her in a giant glass snowglobe with fresh air, a comfy chair, and plenty of Bach. The music scene nowadays can be downright Biff Tannen-y in its dystopianism. I want her to be okay. We sensitive souls have to stick together.

Anyway.

Leisurely scrolling seems to be a thing of the past. I’m just saying that when I go for Netflix now, I pause. I consider before I engage. I doubt. Often, I turn to Hulu instead. And when I do choose Netflix because I gotta have my sweet, sweet Star Trek: The Next Generation fix, more often than not, I wince as I reach for the mute button, preemptively annoyed or nervous about which serial killer I'll be confronting today. Seriously.

HOW MANY MOVIES DO WE NEED ABOUT TED BUNDY?

I’m sure the reason why the feature is so inescapable now, so prominent, is that it works. I’m sure it makes whiz-bang business sense. I bet millions of people are going to watch the “limited series” about a guy who tortures and murders cats. No judgment. He was a horrible dude. I'm glad internet justice ran him down. 

But I’m officially too accustomed to the money I pay to subscription services working in my favor annoyance-wise. All hail the algorithm that shows me movies and Australian reality shows I never would've considered. But I never wanted to know about this. Netflix decided I should and I didn’t get a say. It seems like such a small thing to sever a decade-long relationship over. But the salesman just got too pushy. Too greedy.

I want my tiny little patch of digital earth as commercial-free as possible. I pay for that convenience. I consider that cash well-spent in my ongoing fight to dodge just a few of the hundreds of commercials we face everywhere we go nowadays. Life...our soundscape..it’s weird right now. Again, dystopian. Commercials are at the gas station. On our phones. It’s all noise pollution.  And I’m not willing to pay a service anymore that takes away one of the only places left in the world where I can control that. And that’s okay. Things change. Change is good.

Bye, Netflix