Do the seemingly endless lists of films and TV shows available on Netflix, Stan and other streaming services deprive of us deeper connections to our favourite programs and movies?
Every childhood can be marked by four or five heavily worn, scratched and skipping DVD’s. Discs were put in the wrong cases, the covers became faded and stained, yet we kept these movies in constant rotation. We knew every line and beat and relished our favourite moments. But in an age of technological progression where a wealth of film and television has been collected together and made available for a set payment per month, are we merely being kept entertained or are we absorbing films as we did when DVD’s were all we had?
If we consider the DVD dead, its life has been tragically short. Born only 25 years ago, the DVD replaced the VHS and boasted improved video and audio quality, interactivity and convenience. Not only could the lifespan of these small, compact discs be up to 30 years, but the prospect of having a library of films ranging from the classics to the blockbusters was an appealing idea.
Soon all Hi-Fi and tech shops were carrying DVD’s of all types, and major films were being made available at home within months of their showing at the cinemas. Netflix first started as a DVD rental service whereby orders were delivered by mail and sent back after a certain time. This is not too different from the current Netflix we know and love, as those films and shows are also eventually taken away.
Netflix licenses their content from film studios and content providers, and if not renewed, these contracts expire. When a contract for a TV show or film is due to expire, Netflix evaluates whether it is worth renewing, looking at the cost of keeping a title online as well as its popularity before they make a decision. This means that incredibly popular shows such as The Office or Stranger Things are not likely to be pulled anytime soon.
Yet what if you saw a film on Netflix that changed your life? Unless it changed the lives of many others, or at least kept them entertained for a few hours, it could be made unavailable to you much sooner than you’d think. Netflix, for all its convenience and value, falters in the realm of human subjectivity. This is where DVD’s can not be replaced.
Sometimes we need familiar sights and sounds instead of the latest and most popular content. Knowing what is around the corner can be more exciting than a jump scare. DVD’s crack and break and eventually become unwatchable, but they don’t disappear and fade from our memory. Even having three or four favourites always ready to be watched can be as comforting as the endless lists of ready-to-stream material.
At the Palm Springs International Film Festival this year, renowned filmmaker Martin Scorsese told the crowd, “Not all changes are all for the good. If we’re not careful we might be tilting the scales away from that creative viewing experience, and away from movies as an art form.”
If art affects us personally, it is important we keep it alive and on-hand.
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