March 30, 2009

Pushing the (red) envelope

Dear Netflix,*

I found you relatively late in life - a few years after all of my early-adopter friends did, which means a few years after they began incessantly bugging me to sign up. I held out as long as I could because I just couldn't understand the big draw.

I had eight HBO channels, movies on demand and a serviceable video store a mile away. Ten bucks a month didn't seem too steep a price to pay for your amazing convenience. But still, I reasoned that if there were movies I really needed to see, I could just pay myself to go get them from the Hollywood Video and then be able to watch them the same night. (Myself found that not to be a very lucrative deal.)

Besides, I might not be in a documentary mood when The Fog of War showed up; or I might be craving something serious when License to Drive landed in my mailbox. (Just kidding. I've never hated a movie as much as I hated License to Drive. There's no way that would ever be allowed on my queue.)

But things changed. I got married. (To a stunningly spectacular woman, by the way. You'd be impressed.) And we lived in an apartment without eight HBO channels and without a decent video rental place nearby. And so I signed up for your service. It was great for a while. I got to watch the first few seasons of House, M.D., which I hadn't seen when they aired originally. Got to see An Inconvenient Truth; Finding Neverland; Good Night, and Good Luck; The Hammer; and Waitress; all of which I'd wanted to see in theaters but never did.

According to my rental history, I also watched Donnie Brasco, which I heard was supposed to be great, but I guess it sucked because I don't remember any of it.

But then, for some reason, I couldn't make time for you anymore. Maybe it was because we moved again, and got back our HBOs and movies on demand. Syriana, which I actually still want to see, arrived in your cute red envelope but just sat on top of my DVD player for about six weeks before I gave up and sent it back, unwatched. I put my account on hold for a while, thinking that the time apart would do us good.

But I reactivated and then it was back to the same bad patterns. Last of the Mohicans showed up and just... sat there. (Whatever mood you have to be in to watch LOTM, I was never in that mood.) Six weeks, and back to the mailbox. Sure, I snuck in the James Dean TV movie biopic and a rewatching of Cinema Paradiso. But then Gone with the Wind came and stayed tucked in the cabinet for nearly two months before it was gone with the mail. Unwatched.

You delivered Man on Wire, which I thank you for. A surprisingly entertaining documentary that I might not have seen without you. But even that DVD waited for about a month before I got around to loading it up in the Toshiba.

In other words, if I'm doing the math right, I just paid two and a half months in membership fees, about $25, to watch Man on Wire. And most of it was in black and white. Ten bucks a month for two or three movies delivered right to my mail slot is a good deal. Twenty-five bucks for one movie I might not ever get around to? Well, that seems dumb.

So, really, it's not you. It's me.** We had a pretty good run for a year or two, but you're going back on hiatus until I figure out how to approach our future together. I know it's tough out there, but you'll be OK.

See ya' sometime.

Fist bumps,
Your escalator operator

*It's possible that I'm very blatantly borrowing the concept of writing a letter to a non-human, movie-related entity from one of my favorite bloggers, Daddy Geek Boy, who just wrote a love note to a superb theater out here in L.A. Possible, but I'm not admitting anything. But I really had been meaning to write about Netflix anyway. In any case, you can (and probably should) read DGB's always-entertaining blog here.

** Actually, it was you a little bit. You could have helped your cause by improving your recommendations of Movies I'd Love. For months, most of the DVDs you suggested for me were Def Comedy Jams and The Original Kings of Comedy, apparently because I told you I liked Ray and The Hurricane. Yeah, not quite. Also, your pop-up ads every time I go to Merriam-Webster online are sort of annoying.


Daddy Geek Boy said...

First off...Flattery will get you everywhere. Thank you for the shout out.

I kept one Netflix movie for over 10 months. Yes, you read that right. It was sitting on my nightstand the whole time and I could not bring myself to return the flick. It was a three hour movie that I really wanted to watch, but could not carve out the time. I finally watched it last weekend, making it one of the most expensive rentals ever.

Your escalator operator said...

DGB, Ten months is quite an accomplishment. Obviously, I understand how that'd happen and I'm super impressed. And yet, I imagine that for whatever it cost, you could have bought a few extra copies of the DVD and smashed them into tiny little bits, just for fun. Or not.

bugs said...

the two of you CRACK ME UP.
laughing so hard at the blog & DGB's comments.
hilarious stuff.
(maybe i'm hallucinating a bit from donating blood, but i do think you both are very very funny individuals)