Netflix Rorschach

Update 7/6/14: For some reason this post doesn’t quite feel like it lived up to it’s potential. I wrote it months ago, and I’ve been tinkering with it ever since. Some of the jokes just didn’t stick the landing. I still don’t love it, but I’ll keep up in the name of transparency.


Sometimes I waste time.

Time wasting is a great way to avoid the two things I hate most: work and working out. My desperate need to avoid exercise is one of the reasons I started this blog. It would be very difficult to justify the amount of time I spend sitting in cafes eating breakfast burritos without it. But what about those times when you have nothing pointless to do? When there just isn’t enough nothing to fill a day? Even a pro like me can find himself lured by the siren song of productivity. For just those occasions, I’m here to help. Ultimately, I see myself as a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque lifestyle guru for people who maintain diets that leave them teetering on the precipice of diabetes. Please, for the love of God, put down the shelf paper, ignore those weeds slowly choking your gladiolas to death, and disregard that Vesuvius of dirty underwear erupting all over your bedroom floor.

I like to approach procrastination the same way I approach everything, using the path of least resistance. With this philosophy in mind, I tend to find myself in the gentle embrace of Netflix pretty frequently (its my favorite web streaming service…you know, after porn). Netflix is nice because its a self-fulfilling death spiral. The more you watch, the more Netflix delivers things you’d like to watch. You can help this process along by rating the movies you’ve seen, which is great because it means Netflix actually gives you two avenues through which to waste time: watching stuff and answering questions about what you’ve just watched. It was during one of my rating sessions that I noticed something funny: Netflix’s survey questions play a little fast and loose with the concept of “genre.”

There’s the incredibly vague, like: ominous moviesGiven that the definition of ominous is  “giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen; threatening; inauspicious,” almost any movie would fall into this category. I can’t think of a single movie where something bad doesn’t happen to some character. And prior to that bad thing happening the director of usually gives me the impression something unfortunate is about to happen. This category is for people who only want to exclude My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (ok, I guess I can think of one movie) from ever being algorithmic-ally selected as being something they might like.

There’s also the totally misguided, like: Secret Society Who exactly was in a secret society (that hyphen is superfluous, like this category. Netflix take note) in Batman Begins? and time travel moviesExcept, there wasn’t any actual time travel in Inception. Netflix obviously has a really hard time with Christopher Nolan. The man simply refuses to be captured in an algorithm.

In the “Close, but no Cigar” category, we’ve got: historical tv movies Did you know that Wilmer Valderrama got his start doing historical TV movies? That 70’s Show is right up there with HBO’s John Adams and Colin Firth’s turn as Mr. Darcy in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.

wine and beverage appreciation

This is definitely a genre of one.

And sometimes Netflix just isn’t even trying.

For when you want to exclude all those Canadian Psychos

For when you want to exclude all those Canadian psychos.

Sometimes Netflix just can’t decide. Campy movies Seems okay… Absurd Movies I’ll go along with it….

Now you’ve lost me.

Sometimes Netflix is just trolling for liberal rage: Princess Movies If by “Princess Movies” you mean whitewashed versions of history that allow us to absolve ourselves of inter-generational guilt and indoctrinate our children, then yes I’d love to see more. Next up in the queue The Blindside followed by The Help.

Sometimes, I want want to click “often,” but just can’t marriage Leaving aside the fact that this makes no sense as a sentence.  If, instead of “Marriage,” it said, ” How often do you watch movies with ‘thinly veiled references to lesbians on farms, featuring the dramatic stylings of Jessica Tandy’ like Fried Green Tomatoes” then I’d totally be on board.

Sometimes Netflix categories let me learn a little about myself: talking animal It’s true. I am often interested in watching Talking-Animal Movies.

There are the total misses:

For when the only period battle scenes you’ll accept are those that take place in Mediterranean climates.

Occasionally, Netflix tempts you with genres that are too good to be true:

cool moustaches

Coming to America enjoys the esteemed company of Anchorman, everything Charlie Chaplin ever made, and that terrible Super Mario Brothers movie (starring John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins) in this genre. Obviously, ironic hipsters have invaded the Netflix inner circle.

But even Netflix is not infinite. All good things must come to an end. And when that happens, it looks like this: you have no more movies to rate Luckily for us the internet is literally chock full of porn.


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