Lots of famous directors are biting back at Netflix’s ‘variable playback speed’ option


In the latest bit of Hollywood directors hating on Netflix, directors Judd Apatow, Brad Bird, and Peyton Reed have bitten back at Netflix for introducing a “variable playback speed” option on its streaming service. Similar to what YouTube does, a new option will allow users to adjust the speed of playback for all films and TV shows on Netflix’s service. Those funny, high-pitched, fast moving renditions of films you find online can now be yours without much hassle.

Lo and behold, though, these directors believe giving users control will destroy the very institution that is cinematic film making. The most prominent among them, Judd Apatow, Tweeted out, “No. That’s not how it works. Distributors don’t get to change the way the content is presented. Doing so is a breaking of trust and won’t be tolerated by the people who provide it.” A little hyperbolic, but sure.

Brad Bird agreed, stating, “Whelp – another spectacularly bad idea, and another cut to the already bleeding-out cinema experience. Why support & finance filmmakers visions on one hand and then work to destroy the presentation of those films on the other???” That completely ignores how this is a user option, not to mention features improper grammar.

Peyton Reed at least kept his displeasure short and civil. “This is a terrible idea, and I and every director I know will fight against it. Sincerely, Peyton Reed.” I don’t see how this is bad, considering YouTube has offered a similar feature for years now. It’s also not unlike users taking raw footage and speeding it up, something that was entirely possible on VHS players.

If various directors chiming in weren’t enough, actor Aaron Paul even voiced his disgust with Netflix’s new feature. “There is NO WAY Netflix will move forward with this,” he said. “That would mean they are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it. Netflix is far better than that. Am I right Netflix?” Again, how is this destroying art? How is this any different from fans chopping up clips and placing them in a random order? You do realize this is an optional feature, right guys?

Not directly addressing the faux-controversy, Netflix gave a canned PR statement in response to these Tweets. “We’re always looking for new ways to help our fans enjoy content they love,” said the company to Variety, “so we’re testing playback speed options on mobile devices. Our tests generally vary in how long they run for and in which countries they run in, and they may or may not become permanent features on our service.”

Really, this whole ordeal feels like directors believing their work is somehow being tarnished. Even if this were a 100% original idea Netflix came up with, there’s no way playing a film at different speeds would alter the impact of a movie. Times have changed and people experience media in a variety of methods: no one way is better or more legitimate than another. It’s time the old-guard of Hollywood learned that.

Judd Apatow, Brad Bird, Aaron Paul Slam Netflix’s Testing of Variable Playback Speed [Variety]

Peter Glagowski
Peter is an aspiring writer with a passion for gaming and fitness. If you can't find him in front of a game, you'll most likely find him pumping iron.