Netflix: Stop Discriminating Against Writers!
Overall, I love Netflix, and I have been a loyal customer of theirs almost since the very beginning when they first opened their doors for business. It is unbelievable what an incredible value they deliver to their customers for such an affordably low monthly fee. Netflix may be my #2 favorite company of all time, right underneath Apple.
(On a side note, I also wish that I hadn’t sold all of my Netflix stock a few years ago to fund my one-person show. Not that I wasn’t thrilled with the results of my one-person show, but because I could have sold far worse stocks for companies that I really didn’t believe in as much as Netflix.)
In any case, these are the things I love about Netflix:
My favorite thing about Netflix is that I no longer have to go through the awful song-and-dance routine that used to eat up 1 to 2 hours of any particular evening: walking into Blockbuster with a list of movies that I really wanted to see, only to be disappointed that (a) Blockbuster doesn’t carry any notable selection of independent movies nor focus on anything other than new releases, and (b) once I made a compromise to myself and decided to see a horrible mainstream Hollywood movie instead, Blockbuster would be out of stock of the movie I decided to see. So about 90% of the time when leaving Blockbuster, I would go home with something that I really didn’t want to see to begin with. Wow, just thinking about that makes me cringe with pain for Blockbuster’s business model: the brick-and-mortar part of their company disappoints people 90% of the time when they walk out the door! Jesus. Talk about customer dissatisfaction.
My 2nd favorite thing about Netflix is the lack of late fees or due dates. Not only would it be difficult to get movies back to Blockbuster on time (thus accruing lots of late fees), but on 2 separate occasions when I actually DID manage to get my movies back to Blockbuster on time, Blockbuster charged my credit card 30 days later for a “lost movie”! Not sure what happened to those movies on 2 separate occasions (did employees steal the films?), but I was able to get the charges reversed after pleading my cases to an irritated manager who insisted that the movies were nowhere to be found. Sorry, but I simply have no reason to NOT return “Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls”.
My 3rd favorite thing about Netflix (and this is really an extension of #1 above) is the vast selection that is almost bordering on obsessive. Besides some serious missing gaps in Netflix’s movie collection (e.g. My Dinner With Andre, Blood Simple, Safe, The War Room, Hitler’s Hit Parade, A Brief History of Time, the Lolita remake, How To Get Ahead in Advertising, and dozens more), for the most part, Netflix does an outstanding job of maintaining a vast selection of independent, low-budget, and foreign films on hand. This is just wonderful. Finally I don’t have to drive 10 miles roundtrip to the nearest “specialty video store” to try to scan their cramped shelves for one copy of that obscure film that only I have heard of. Because I can almost guarantee that Netflix HAS heard of it… and that they carry it.
My 4th favorite thing about Netflix is the lack of CENSORSHIP of their movies. Most of the people I speak with don’t realize that Blockbuster actually censors their films for anything that they deem to be “inappropriate content”, which is typically scenes with nudity. Blockbuster works with the editors at each of the studios to ensure that they get “Blockbuster-friendly” versions of the films that they carry. And if a studio refuses to make the editing changes that Blockbuster wants them to make, Blockbuster will not carry that movie on their shelves. One of my friends, Michael Sutz, was shocked to discover that a documentary he rented from Blockbuster Video was missing 15 minutes of supposed “adult material”. He didn’t realize this until months later, when he saw the REAL documentary which he rented from somewhere else.
Here are Michael’s comments on this issue:
The film was actually a mockumentary called “Man Bites Dog” and the scene that Blockbuster cut was a rape/murder of a young couple. It’s an incredibly important scene because the film crew (that’s following the subject of the doc — a serial killer) actually takes part in the crime. It was only when my cousin Mark and I rented the film from a local video dealer in Tempe, AZ that we realized what Blockbuster had done. This is one of my favorite films.
My #5 favorite thing about Netflix is their aggressive foray into video-on-demand… and at an extremely reasonable price too! No extra charge!! 🙂 I absolutely love watching movies on my Mac in either Safari or Firefox, and even better, I love streaming movies to my Roku Digital Video Player.
HOWEVER, there is “ONE BIG THING” that ANNOYS ME TO NO END about Netflix. And if you read the comments below, you’ll find out that this issue goes way beyond mere annoyance and into human exploitation.
Here is what I hate about Netflix — and what you should hate about Netflix as well:
Netflix discriminates against screenwriters.
As somebody who is a future screenwriter (Herbert Barry Woodrose and I are almost done writing one of the funniest comedy movies ever created), and as somebody who is friends with no fewer than 10 professional screenwriters — people who are actually getting PAID FOR A LIVING to write movies — this issue simply does not go over well for me at all.
Netflix does NOT list the writers (nor any other crew members, for that matter!!) for any of the movies on their site! The only crew member Netflix lists is the DIRECTOR.
Netflix apparently believes that every single movie in Hollywood just WRITES ITSELF. Netflix thinks that screenplays just grow on trees — and that directors come along and pluck them off the trees to turn them into films.
I find this behavior extremely insulting & disrespectful to writers.
Netflix, STOP perpetuating the degrading myth that the DIRECTOR is the only crew member that is important to a movie. A director would be NOTHING without an excellent script behind him. (A director almost always invests SIGNIFICANTLY LESS TIME into a film than the screenwriter, too!)
For comparison’s sake, Blockbuster’s website lists the FULL CAST AND CREW INFORMATION for each movie.
Netflix, many of your customers actually know a little bit more about movies than the average moviewatcher… and they like to watch all the movies that are written by a certain screenwriter, or at least educate themselves as to who wrote a specific movie.
You could extend this argument even further to other crew members as well. For example, some professional cinematographers like watching movies that are all shot by the same cinematographer.
For Netflix to NOT list the other crew members on their site — or at the very least, the writer — is just completely disrespectful to writers and condescending to their customers by keeping them uneducated about the very art form that Netflix wants them to be enamored with.
And it’s really nothing more than sheer laziness on Netflix’s part, since they obviously already have all of the crew information in their gigantic databases. Netflix simply chooses to NOT SHOW IT to their customers.
On the contrary, Blockbuster lists FULL CAST AND CREW information — EVERYONE! — for every movie on their site. Blockbuster clearly respects the professionals who dedicate their lives to making movies a hell of a lot more than Netflix does.
And that pisses me off completely. Netflix should be ashamed of themselves for making this decision.
I have been writing to Netflix for over 3 years about this issue, and they have completely ignored my complaints about this matter.
See the comments below for further commentary on this very important issue.
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