Netflix, you clever dog, you. “Commercials are terrible!”you told us, and then you filled your streaming service with roughly three quintillion original shows (OK, 323, a number that has tripled between 2016 and 2017) that we could binge without seeing a single ad for shampoo, beer or personal hygiene products. Now, my own children treat commercials as curious relics from a half-remembered time—unloved, unwanted and unwatched.
And now that you’ve completely upended the television paradigm and brought the industry to its knees based on on-demand, commercial-free offerings, you’re now offering …. commercials.
Yes, that’s right: Netflix is now advertising its own shows on its own shows. “These video promos are actually personalized recommendations for titles we think a member may enjoy watching,” Netflix spokeswoman Smita Saran told The New York Times. “In this particular case, we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”
Do people love these thoughtful video promos? The answer thus far, at least on Twitter, is No. Secondary answer? Stop it now. “If @Netflix gives us commercials I will absolutely cancel my subscription,” notes Twitter user Giants Girl. “I literally pay for no commercials.”
Seems that when it comes to giving people what they didn’t ask for, there’s a lot of that going around.
Take what happened at the MTV Music Awards. In the wake of Aretha Franklin’s death last weekend, scads of eulogies have been written about the Queen of Soul’s incomparable legacy. But when Madonna seemingly offered her own tribute during the MTV show, she turned it into more a salute to herself. Not cool, Madge, the public said. Madonna defended herself by saying that MTV asked her to “share an anecdote” about Franklin, not eulogize her, while presenting the Album of the Year award, so people shouldn’t be so judgy.
(But if you’re one of the many who think that Madonna was being a bit narcissistic, she has plenty of company. Two new studies suggest the country’s full of narcissists.)
And then there’s The Happytime Murders, a raunchy R-rated comedy coming out this weekend, which features a bunch of puppets made and managed by none other than Brian Henson, son of Muppet creator Jim Henson. While we’ll have to wait for a few days to see how Happytime does in theaters, I don’t recall a lot of people saying, “You know what the world needs? Obscene puppetry!” Henson admits that he’s taking a risk: “It will be controversial. There will be people who really hate me for it,” he tells USA Today. “Hopefully not a lot of people.”
Some movie theaters, in an effort to push back against the influence of Netflix, are playing around with introducing a three-screen format into their confines, theoretically making for a more immersive movie experience. This, despite a bit of evidence that folks still like what they’re seeing at the local multiplex, given that the industry is setting box-office records and that, for the first time in memory, we didn’t see a notable Hollywood bomb this summer.
Still, sometimes what we want isn’t necessarily all that good for us.
If you think we’re going to start complaining about our unhealthy dependence on social media, by golly, you’re right. More than half of Millennials admit to wasting way too much time fiddling with their smartphones. Teens are punting books in favor of texting and social media, so much so that a third of them say they never read books for fun anymore.
Hey, you know when even Twitter’s cofounder Ev Williams expounds on the “virtues of boredom” and the importance of stepping away from the smartphone, well, that’s advice we might want to heed.
And let’s face it: Sometimes when we use social media, we don’t use it well. When actress Kelly Marie Tran had the audacity to (gasp) appear in a Star Wars movie and, y’know, act and stuff, some Star Wars fans unleashed an incredible tsunami of vitriol in her direction—much of it hinged on her Asian heritage. Now, several months later, Tran admits that the blowback impacted her. “It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” she wrote in The New York Times. “Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”
Indeed, words have power—to heal, to hurt and … unintentionally marry someone? So actress Winona Ryder told Entertainment Weekly. During the filming of Dracula, she and Keanu Reeves got “married” as part of the plot. No problem, right? Happens all the time. But here’s the thing: Director Francis Ford Coppola apparently used a real Romanian priest, which may have made the marriage all legal. “I swear to god I think we’re married in real life,” Ryder said.
Sounds like she might want to have a long talk with Scott Mackinlay Hahn, her current partner.