Thursday, January 31, 2008

My kind of stimulus

Thanks to Hacking Netflix for passing along this tongue-in-cheek item from Dateline Hollywood: "Congress and President Bush agree on Netflix rebates for Americans during writers strike."

The "rebate" to be sent out by the U.S. government will amount to three free Netflix rentals. Apparently there was a "disturbing" poll by Entertainment Weekly showing that, gasp, Americans were watching less television and reading more books! But the article quotes an expert who says he doesn't think it'll have much of an impact on Americans' newly discovered reading habits: “They’ll probably watch all three DVDs in one night, and the next evening, they’ll be reading again, or playing board games with their families.”

As someone who tries to squeeze in time for watching television AND reading books, I have to say that the writers' strike hasn't affected me all that much. Sure, I don't have much to look forward to on my DVR: no fresh episodes of Desperate Housewives or Brothers and Sisters or 30 Rock. But Lost is starting up again tonight, and I'm a loyal Netflix subscriber, so I'm never without entertainment.

No, I don't own stock in the company or work there or know anyone who works there. And yes, I know about the company's reputation for "throttling," delaying the shipment of new movies for heavy renters. Frankly, it hasn't affected me. I send back my three movies on Monday, and by Friday, I have three more ready for weekend viewing. As someone who spends a good portion of her life running errands, what Netflix has done is free me from the tyranny of late fees and constant trips to the video store.

I can still remember how thrilling it felt, in May 2003, when I finished watching Todd Haynes' homage to 1950s melodrama, Far from Heaven, sealed it up in the red-and-white Netflix envelope, and dropped it in the mailbox at the end of my street. It was a liberating experience to know that I didn't have to drive down to the video store to return it.

I think my movie and tv-watching has gotten a lot more adventurous since I signed up for Netflix. I watch more old movies, documentaries, more foreign films, things I probably would have passed right by at the video store, like Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski's trilogy Red, White and Blue. I caught up on the first five years of The Sopranos on DVD and I'm working my way through Sex and the City now. I've loved both of them.

Actually, I think it's more enoyable watching these shows on DVD than it is to watch them from week to week. I find that I'm much more caught up in the characters and their stories when I can see three or four episodes one after another. My biggest problem now is trying to decide what to start after my Sex and the City marathon ends. Sadly, I'm already halfway through the final season.

No comments: