Netflix is a wonderful invention. Movies on demand. Watch at your leisure on a computer or game system. The uncanny ability to read minds. Yes, Netflix is reading my mind. It’s scary. I recommend Netflix for all movie lovers, but for God’s sake stay out of the “recommendations” area of Netflix. It will unravel your reality.
For those unfamiliar with the web site Netflix.com, it allows its members to order movies and TV series either streaming or on DVD for a set, monthly fee. If you get just 3 movies a month on the basic plan, you have saved money versus trotting to the local video store and paying $4 a pop. Add to that the convenience of not having to stop by the video store on the way to work just to return a disc and you have a great service that millions are using.
Netflix.com also has this handy ratings feature. As you browse the site, you can vote for movies you like or mark them “not interested.” The rating feature is combined with your history to create a profile of movies you like. Netflix will then create recommendations based on your profile. This is where it gets weird.
Netflix knows more about my viewing habits than all but my closest family members. It’s starting to scare me. I open up their recommendations sections and start thinking, “Oh! That’s a good one. Yeah! I want to see that.” I’m half way down the list before I slowly realize that Netflix is reading my mind.
“We think you’d like Clerks II.” Why, yes I would.
“Wouldn’t you like to see Stargate SG-1: Season 9 again?” Thank you very much.
“Adult Swim has the just released Aqua Teen Hunger Force on DVD. What do you think?” I think I’d like it see it again.
“We have all the Marx Brothers on DVD, dude.” Holy crap, Duck Soup.
Wait. Did Netflix just call me “dude”?
I’m starting to feel like Netflix and I should start hanging out. We could catch a baseball game. As soon as the weather warms up a little, we’re taking a sick day and going fishing. I’ll film it in slow motion: me and Netflix, holding hands, skipping down to the river. I’ll dub in “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen and Photoshop it with a little haze. It will be a beautiful compilation.
One day I fear I may break the Netflix server. Even a computer has to laugh when it builds a web page full of Sci-Fi flicks, Marx Brothers’ movies, Kobayashi and Kurosawa samurai classics, and cartoons. I very probably have burned out a CPU or two on the Netflix database server already. You can’t put Sanjuro next to Sealab 2021 and not blow a circuit.
But the real joke is on Netflix. My wife created the account so Netflix thinks a 40 year old woman is really into Sci-Fi and samurai. They’re scratching their heads down at Netflix central wondering why this woman, who really enjoys embroidery and cross-stitch, is ordering Tom-Baker-classic Dr. Who. That’ll put a kink in the demographic analysis.
Here’s to Netflix! Keeping my big butt on the sofa all weekend. Kagemusha isn’t going to watch itself.