A friend came over the other night bearing software as a gift, always appreciated. He wanted to give me a chance to try some high-end stuff and give me a lesson or two while he was at it.
And as I waited for these sophisticated programs to install, I finally understood. Understood something about myself, and about my feelings about certain things. Cheap therapy, all in all.
I’m opposed to removable media. There. Picket me if you have to.
And I know why. Because each time I slip a disc into my DVD drive, it feels like I’m rewinding a tape.
Remember? Wasn’t that like the coolest thing about DVDs? No more rewinding. No more tedious fast-forwarding and backing up to find a specific scene. No more whirring. I hate whirring.
I may be ahead of the curve on this, hard to say. I just know that I’ve been using virtual drives and image files and DVD folders and…you either know or you don’t, I guess. But I’ve come to resent removable media, resent its fragility and its noise and the time involved. I want my software, my programs and my movies and my music, all digital and stored on my hard drives, on my iPod or my laptop or any of my external drives, and all backed up to the cloud somewhere, far from my chaotic home, just in case.
And this is why I love broadband, and NetFlix’s Instant Viewing with their thousands of titles, and Amazon’s Video On Demand service, and even the iTunes store on rare occasion. I like the immediacy, the instant gratification, the sideswiping of the entire Late Fee Industry, and the lack of whirring. Particularly.
Farhad Manjoo has a good piece up in Slate this week about Blockbuster and Redbox kiosks, about the whole DVD rental industry and the future. Worth your read if you’re interested.
I’ve never used Redbox, although that may change. It’s always seemed a little pathetic to me, people lined up on a Friday night, often outside in bad weather, little kids tugging at them, waiting their turn at a vending machine for a little entertainment. And then there are the late fees, of course, and the limited selection and the time involved. Get into the century, I want to say to them; go home and stream it from Amazon. What, you don’t want to watch it on your computer? You mean you haven’t long ago connected your PC to your big screen yet? People, people.
Of course, there’s less tech snottiness here than laziness. I get it. I get Redbox. DVDs will be with us a long time, probably longer than VHS was (about 15 years, if you shave off early users and DVD resisters). We’re already a decade into digital, at least.
Anyway. This came up, not only with the article but in a personal, whiny sort of way. As the piece points out, in case you were unaware, the major movie studios have recently made a deal with Redbox and NetFlix. New releases are delayed from these services for about a month, giving the studios a chance to reap the dollars from DVD sales, in exchange for certain concessions. In the case of NetFlix, one of those is an expansion of titles available for streaming. This is a good situation for me, I approve, I don’t care all that much about new releases usually, and already I’m finding great back titles ready for immediate viewing. This is a win for consumers, a loss for maybe those who can’t wait.
Which was me, the other night. I’d had a long and difficult evening, very intense, dealing with work issues, and come 11pm I was not only wired but in need of some relaxation. I’d noticed that “It’s Complicated,” the romantic comedy with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, had just been released to home video. I figured it’d be a disappointment, knowing what kind of films the director likes to direct, but I like the actors and was curious to see if they rose above the material. And it seemed like light entertainment.
Of course it was nowhere to be found. Our local video store, a Hollywood Video, closed its doors a few weeks ago. I refuse to go to Blockbuster and it’s not handy anyway.
But there it was on Amazon, ready to watch, $3.99 for rental. That’s $3.99 I shouldn’t have to spend on renting a video, already paying NetFlix. And much more pricey than a Redbox rental would be, if it existed, which it wouldn’t, of course, not for a month.
This isn’t unfamiliar territory for me, getting bogged down by a couple of bucks, seeing all the trees and none of the forest. It’s just 4 bucks. I never rent from Amazon; buy sometimes, but don’t rent. Still, it was probably a pretty flawed movie. What to do?
Click, is what.
And now I’ve written over 800 inefficient, clunky, VHS-style words to get to the point, which was I liked it.
I have a low tolerance for this crap, and a lot of it was crap — contrived, predictable, derivative (duh). And still. It’s Meryl frickin Streep. And Alec Baldwin. And Steve Martin (whose eyes look funny, not sure about that, either ordinary aging or aging resistance). There were a couple of scenes that made me laugh out loud in the middle of the night, and by the end I was moved. Moved by 60-something actors not afraid to play their age (and in Baldwin’s case, playing older than he actually is) and show their sagging skin and expanding guts (Alec. I love this guy), to portray love among the not-quite ruins and say something, to me, ultimately, about marriage and romance and passion and the uncertainty of it all. It’s complicated, in other words, and so is everything else.