Why is this interesting? - The Streaming Anxiety Edition
On movies, culture, and the challenge of starting something new
Colin here. In terms of content, we are spoilt for choice. Yet, The Week columnist Navneet Alang hit close to home when last week he wrote about how hard he finds it to start anything new on Netflix. The problem, as it turned out, was something more profound than a fragmented attention span:
Up until recently, I assumed I had so damaged my attention span with social media, games, and screens in general, that I had lost the capacity to engage with anything remotely smart or interesting. And maybe that's true. But last week, I tweeted about my affliction, asking if anyone else had ever felt this strange aversion to starting a new movie or show — and the response was overwhelming. Even with my modest follower count, more than 100 people chimed in with similar experiences. It was fascinating. And just as interesting were the variety of reasons people cited for their aversion to pressing play: stress, anxiety, the content of most modern entertainment, a fear of missing out, or a fear of wasting time — it was a long list.
Why is this interesting?
Judging by the flood of responses to the (now deleted) initial tweet, he isn’t alone. There is an aversion to starting a new relationship with movies or shows that’s causing some folks to freeze up.
This is not far off the mark for me. I find myself slavishly consuming stuff I’ve already seen over and over (cough: Heat) or watching things not for the interesting plot or intellectual substance, but for the texture and ease. I find Frazier to be a particularly pleasing sort of 11 pm right before sleep ambiance.
Perhaps it’s being too exhausted by a long week of work, or too disturbed by the current state of the world to want to watch something difficult and intellectually challenging. As Alang sums up in the piece, “When it feels like fascism is on the rise or that climate change will kill us all, who wants to slog through an awkward or difficult film, when you could instead just watch reruns of TheGreat British Baking Show?”
Indeed, friend of WITI, Robin Sloan posited, “I feel like the replies to Nav's tweet totally explain the surprising resilience of old Friends & Seinfeld episodes, as well as the soothing appeal of Terrace House.” [Link added]
As we live through this golden age of television, the only question will be if anyone has the intellectual or emotional bandwidth required to watch any of it. (CJN)
Chart of the Day:
One of the most interesting takeaways for me from the excellent New York Times Magazine profile of Adam Sandler was how huge he is in Latin America and the impact that had on his Netflix deal. From the piece: “‘Blended,’ his third rom-com with Barrymore, did more than 60 percent of its ticket sales internationally, with major returns in Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela. 'Jack and Jill,' a 2011 gender-swap flick with a 3 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earned nearly a tenth of its overall gross in Brazilian theaters.” To that end, I was fascinated to see this Netflix revenue breakdown by region. (NRB)
The air in Delhi (CJN)
On video game addiction (CJN)
Boeing’s Misplaced Strategy on the 737 Max (CJN)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)
PS - Noah here. I’ve started a new company and we are looking for a sr. backend engineer to join the team. If you are one of those or know anyone great, please share. Dinner’s on me at a restaurant of your choice if you help us find someone.
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