I wrote this for qmunicate a while ago but as I can’t find the link for it, I thought I would post it here! A little piece about why I think DVDs and Blu-rays beats Netflix every time.
I have to admit: I think Netflix is overrated. It might be blasphemy to say this in a Netflix-obsessed world, a world in which the online streaming service has become a byword for lazy weekends, hungover sessions of self-pity and unproductive bouts of procrastination, but I feel compelled to own up and finally admit that I don’t really get what all the fuss is about. Of course, my stance might be slightly different if I was deprived of my ability to shamelessly borrow a Netflix password here and there – I think parting ways with Orange is the New Black would be hardest of all – but, in all honesty, a life without Netflix would not be a difficult one to live.
The service has its advantages – for a mere £6.99 a month you can choose from over a thousand films, as well as a wide range of TV series’. Unfortunately, a lot of these are of dubious quality. Scrolling further and further down the webpage, the customer is inevitably greeted with lurid titles (who knew there were so many strange ‘80s films?) and, even worse, the disproportionate disappointment of discovering that the very film you had been craving just isn’t available. Aside from uncovering just how many questionable films Hollywood stars have to star in before they reach Oscar-worthy heights (the acclaimed films themselves being noticeably absent), Netflix is also useful in the sense that it allows users to access the service from multiple devices, a system that is replicated across other online streams.
A quick Google search of all the online streaming services available in the UK will yield a plethora of results: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Sky’s NOW TV are just several that offer monthly subscriptions, whilst other services, most notably iTunes, allow the customer to rent or buy on a film-by-film basis. Prices and selections differ and the accessibility and relative inexpensiveness of the online streams enable users to sample titles. It’s perfect for those days when you’re too lazy (or hungover) to move, and doesn’t involve the hassle and irritation that often results from the usage of free online streams, full of misogynist pop-ups and films that refuse to load.
Yet, despite all the ease and quickness attached to online streaming services, I will always prefer to watch TV on just that: a TV. Not that I’m puritanical about the digitisation of art forms – I don’t know the last time I listened to a real CD – but I’d rather watch a DVD or Blu-ray simply because it makes for an infinitely better viewing experience. Friday nights were, for the majority of my childhood, DVD nights; we would choose a film, pick it up from the Blockbusters round the corner and settle onto the couch, a bowl of sweets for the obligatory movie snack. The process was often fraught with disagreements and negotiations but it was our tradition: even now that Blockbusters has become obsolete, there’s always something special and nostalgic about inserting the disc into the DVD player, switching out the lights and watching as the opening credits unfold.
As online streaming increasingly dominates our viewing habits, it’s entirely conceivable that, one day, films will only exist in a digitised form. But what would happen to shops like HMV and the hordes of shoppers who frantically rummage their shelves for last-minute Christmas gifts? And would the special features prized by fans completely disappear? Such a world is admittedly distant and will continue to be so as long as a vast DVD collection is seen as impressive or your own selection of DVDs inspires friends to loudly question your taste in film. Just as much as the books or CDs that a person chooses to exhibit in their home acts as an outward manifestation of their personality and interests, DVDs are more potent examples of individuality than a star rating on Netflix will ever be. Physical copies of films – gifts and spontaneous purchases alike – are undoubtedly more meaningful and personal than online streams directed mainly at convenience. And whilst the continual purchase of DVDs might not be the most economically viable idea, when it comes to a much-loved film there’s really no question: DVDs will always win.