Sep. 19th, 2014

There's no doubt that electronic movie streaming services like Netflix make being a movie fan easier. For a recurring monthly fee, anyone can access Netflix's online library of titles. Outside of payment, watching however many movies one wants to takes negligible investment.

It makes me think about how my family used to keep track of our movies, back some fifteen years ago. We used VHS tapes. My family owned a VCR (now obviously discarded) and had entire shelves in our basement reserved for the extensive VHS tapes we owned. We had all our favorites, from popular children's Disney titles like "Peter Pan" and "Toy Story" for me, to all-time classics like "Casablanca" and "It's a Wonderful Life" reserved for my parents. The shelf sat mounted on the wall in a room my parents had set up with a TV and a couple of couches which ended up serving as the family entertainment center. The colorful jackets of the tapes, all neatly lined up, resembled a colorful mosaic. My parents would manage to find time to sit and watch movies with me on Sunday nights during my preschool days. We would all sit and enjoy a movie together, with the shelf always hovering in periphery of our vision. It became symbolic: a movie was on. Our family was together, watching it. And the shelf was looming just out of sight.

But years have gone by since then. Personal computers have picked up in popularity, and along with them, electronic replacements for older technologies. Today my family owns a subscription to Netflix, the popular electronic movie streaming service, and today that shelf of VHS tapes is empty. The television is gone from that room; now it resides in our home's attic waiting to be repurposed, or, more likely, sold at some point in the future. My family doesn't watch movies regularly like before, but sporadically, and usually independently of each other. We used to have space and time to unite us in our movie watching; now we have the common bond of Netflix. With Netflix we gain some freedom -- from routine, and from spacial confines. Of course, there's some money lost in exchange for that. But what else do we lose?


Jack Reece

December 2014

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