Netflix And Monoculture

1/ I've hunted high and low for some Wong Kar Wai movies (old favorites of mine) to re-watch this weekend. But in vain. And that worries me a lot.

2/ Netflix got 45 million people to see Birdbox in the first week. The total number after a few weeks was around 80 million. It is lauded as an achievement, but seems tragic to me…

3/ 45 million people had nothing better to watch than the first thing on the Netflix home screen? Nothing queued up? Birdbox has 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.7 on IMDB. That's in the "avoid" range.

4/ Netflix was the poster child of the “long tail” that the internet had promised — where you could find everything you wanted and not be limited to what the “channel” decided to air.

5/ I remember being awed at their selection when I first visited the US for a work trip, having come from a world where the only option was to go to sketchy flea markets and find poor quality prints. For a brief moment in time, free distribution for knocking down walls. And then someone figured out how to stand up new ones.

6/ The screenshot above is what it shows me when I search for Chungking Express. Most of these are from the Trending / Netflix Originals sections on their home page. The search results aren’t even trying to be subtle about what Netflix wants me to do.

7/ The internet hasn’t removed gatekeepers, it’s just created different gatekeepers -- fewer, larger and more powerful. And there is an over-reliance on them in the name of cheap, fast, easy. Who buys DVDs or downloads torrents any more. There is no optionality any more.

8/ Wong Kar Wai's movies aren't even on the frontiers of eclectic. I shudder to think about what corners of culture are getting lost to the world permanently.

9/ Ignore the front pages the next time you're looking for a movie, a book, an experience...