16 June 2012

An open break-up letter to Netflix

Dear Netflix,

Writing this would be hard except I doubt you'll even notice I'm gone. Still, this is mainly for closure.

We had some good times. Remember re-watching the Mad Men to get caught up for this latest season? Remember guilty pleasures like trashy cop dramas, Japanese shock horror movies and teen vampire shows? And then there's the mind-blowing documentaries you and I sat through, learning, laughing and tearing up. I'll never forget the first time I noticed that you had every single Joss Wheden show, episode and web video.

Then things changed. I started to realize that I'd watched all your interesting content and you weren't getting anything new. Your cryptic and misleading New Releases section led me to seek out the truth on "What's new on Netflix Canada" and that's when I realized we had to break up. For the last 6 months there's been almost nothing I wanted to watch on that list and each month the selection gets crappier and crappier.  I said to myself. It's only $8/month but here's the crux of the problem: it's been sucky for a LONG time and you only ever give me enough content to barely persuade me not to cancel. Convenience is not a reason to stay in a relationship.

There are also more reasons:

  • I don't watch ultimate fighting. I will never EVER watch ultimate fighting or understand your obsession with it.
  • TED talks are free. I can get them anywhere and on any device. I'm pretty sure my microwave offered to show me a TED talk last week.
  • If I want to watch Being Erica (and I do! Judge me all you want) I can do it for free on CBC.ca. That goes for almost all the Canadian content you have.
  • When I think "Wow. Netflix got that great movie" it's about movies I've already seen.... twice...... eight years ago.
  • Your terrible selection is (wrongly) making me think cinema is dying and nobody is making good content anymore.

This last one is a big problem. You and iTunes have killed all the major video rental places. I don't weep for Blockbuster or Rogers Video but I dearly miss my independents. The problem is that while you've killed off the big players you also killed all the little guys. These tiny hole-in-the-wall shops staffed by underpaid, obsessive cinemaphilic curators used to offer selections of interesting movies that you and iTunes combined could never even touch.

In Vancouver there used to be Videomatica (we mourn its loss deeply) but there are still a few islands of cinematic culture like Black Dog Video. I'm going to go this week and get a membership there and pray that myself and a few others can keep it open and operating.

That's it. Don't try to tempt me with a new season of Arrested Development.

I think we need to see other people,


UPDATED (June 16, 2012): VIDEOMATICA Isn't actually dead. They got in touch with me. Their rental section IS gone (donated to UBC) but their sales section is located above Zulu records on 4th just a block from where they used to be on the opposite side of the street. Go check 'em out!

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