Let’s be honest, streaming is going to end in unmitigated disaster--either by costing a huge chunk of change for consumers who just want to watch the things they want to watch, due to a massive fracturing in which everyone gives up and just watches whatever’s on the services they already pay for, or by a monopoly in which Disney just buys everything and all you have to do to stream the content is have a pair of mouse ear-shaped antennas surgically grafted to your skull. No matter what, though, the dream of cord-cutting is getting foggier every day as packages and bundles are definitely coming back, and soon you’ll be paying one “low” price for a bunch of stuff you’ll never watch all over again. Farewell, sweet dream.
As we awake to the horrors of the online media landscape around us, we must ask, is there any escape from this? Is there any freedom for both our wallets and our souls? Could there possibly be any path out of this doomed future?
Well, yeah. Duh. It’s in the headline.
Let me introduce you to a little website called DVD.com. Yeah, it’s just Netflix DVD. It’s still around, and it’s just as good as it’s ever been. I remembered that it existed a few months ago, re-upped my subscription, and have been in heaven ever since.
Waves of nostalgia radiated through my bones when I tore open the first of those retro red envelopes that used to dominate mailboxes across that nation. Within was a beaten white sleeve, and nestled inside that sleeve was--get this--something I actually wanted to watch. It wasn’t some half-hearted series produced by analytics and data that just sort of looked like something I wanted to watch. It wasn’t some independent film bought off the festival circuit and now shackled to one streaming service. No, it was Big Tits Zombie, a Japanese horror/comedy with a super low budget that’s out-of-print, hard to find, and absolutely not streaming anywhere. Thank god for Netflix DVD.
It’s a downright wonderful service that still offers the breadth and depth of content that streaming once promised. Sure, you can find weird garbage that no one’s heard of, but that’s just the beginning. Do you want one service that will let you watch DC movies, Marvel movies, Netflix shows, and series like The Office and Friends all for one price? Of course you do, you cheap son of a bitch. And it exists! It’s Netflix DVD. In this case our great leap forward is one giant step back. You might not be able to watch The Office whenever you want with this, but given the transient nature of streaming service collections as of late, you can’t really be sure that you’ll be able to watch something whenever you want unless you just go ahead and buy it, anyway.
The app is even more fully-featured than Netflix’s streaming app. You can still rate movies, write reviews, and receive those weird star-based suggestions for how you’d rate a movie based on some algorithm that’s always either eerily right or wildly wrong. It’s all there, and it’s odd how much like a teenager again I felt as I scrolled through. You can also do basic browsing and sorting, which makes discovery simple in a way that analytics and curated collections have absolutely ruined.
I know it’s not exactly the instant gratification of an On-Demand service, but Netflix DVD (which also offers futuristic Blu-ray technology) will gratify you with the movie or show you’ve been pining to see. In my experience, from sending a DVD back to receiving a new one takes about three days. I can live with that, especially when I’ve sat down and watched everything I’ve received through Netflix DVD and I’ve watched all of two movies through the streaming service in as much time.
The tech industry is often nothing but big promises poorly realized with consequences that leave us about the same as we were before. Silicon Valley can’t give us self-driving cars that won’t run people over, and they can’t give us a streaming service that has all the things we actually want to watch in one place. It’s time to turn your back on the streaming dystopia we’re hurtling toward. It’s time to get off the grid and into the envelope. It’s time to cancel all your other subscriptions and return to the comforting embrace of Netflix DVD. Then and only then can you watch Big Tits Zombie, too.