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Movie spotlights

Streaming Sucks

You probably already know that streaming sucks, at least anecdotally. But why does it actually suck? What happened? It seemed like the one business that would never fail - after all, everyone loves watching TV and movies. Having access to everything in one place for a cheap price, that sounds like heaven!

And it was, for awhile. We didn't know about the absolutely horrendous situation regarding residuals. Which, in hindsight, we should have seen coming. After all, if a big corporation can get away with not paying anything to the people that make their money, that's the ultimate goal of capitalism, right?

Even just five years ago, streaming was much easier, with only a few platforms dominating the market. Now, there are dozens and dozens of streaming services all competing against each other. Juggling their most popular shows and movies to make us pay for as many as possible without noticing, what a wonderful business practice.

This Streaming Service Hell ™ is only made worse by the fact it's practically the only way to possibly consume media. (That we're told of)

Which - in my opinion - is why 86% of people pay for more than one streaming service per month. That's from a Forbes article which I don't feel like linking back to because I hate Forbes, so here's my archived version of the article that doesn't support capitalists: Nearly 50% Of People Pay For Streaming Services They Don't Use

That article includes some other interesting statistics. For example, the average American pays $39 a month to line streaming corporations' pockets.

Now, I'm no genius, so I'm not judging these people, but the most baffling statistic to me would have to be this:

More than 50% of streamers have signed up for a streaming service with the intention of only watching one particular show.

That's insane, right? Batshit crazy. Can you imagine paying $10 - 15 per month for one show? I may be overusing italics here, but you can hear how that sounds, right?

There's also the issue of carbon footprint. Streaming services don't exist in a vaccuum, they rely on networks and infrastructure. The kind of big words that are usually not a good sign when preceeded by "massive".

There's this lady, Laura Marks. Seems like a cool gal. She's the Grant Strate University Professor in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser and also the co-author of the paper "Streaming Media's Environmental Impact". She seems qualified. Anyways, she says that these Monsters from Silicon Valley are "responsible for 3-4% of the global carbon footprint." (Monsters from Silicon Valley is the name of my new 8-bit indie horror game)

And then, of course, there's the issue I mentioned earlier: residuals. I'm not gonna go fully into it here, there's far too much to cover. You can do your own research if you want. But one of the biggest issues with streaming services is that they pay very little to the people that make their shows after the shows succeed. Pennies, basically. What's worse is that they don't disclose how they make those payment calculations, or the amount of views any media recieves. That means the people who make the media have no way to push back on the unfair pay, since it's basically a closed book. What a lovely and totally not ethically questionable business practice!

I'm not suggesting you give up your favourite shows. Not at all. But, you might consider a different method of consuming media. And I'm not talking about digital ownership (which doesn't exist, you're just purchasing a license to view that media on a platform, basically like a personal streaming service), because the only practical method of doing that is through Amazon, and that's its own can of worms.

I'm talkin' physical, baby.

Movie spotlights
Movie spotlights

Let's Get Physical

Let's talk about the benefits of physical media, especially DVDs. Now, keep in mind, DVDs are not a perfect solution. We need a lot of reform in the entertainment industry before the people that make the things we watch (not the CEOs and corporate bigwigs) get the money they deserve. But, DVDs do provide a very very good alternative to streaming services.

Streaming services are unreliable for a host of reasons. One is that they rely on wifi. Another is that they rely on constant payments out of your wallet. A third is the fact that they don't want to be reliable.

Streaming services like Netflix constantly move their shows around like a sadistic Seinfeld circus. My point is - you have no guarantee with streaming when, or even if, your favourite tv shows or movies will be available. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.

Speaking of cookies, streaming services can and will steal and sell your information to third parties. That's probably not shocking, but did you know a DVD player can't do that? That's probably not shocking either, it's common sense, because...

DVD players can operate without wifi! They don't need to be connected to the internet! It's secure! It's easy! It's portable!

Psst... DVDs also have better audio and visual quality than streaming because they don't have to compress shit to high hell to save bandwidth...

DVD players are also incredibly cheap right now. Not to mention that you can find about five of them lying around your local Goodwill on any given day. DVDs, too, are quite cheap. And - get this - they directly support the creators! Creators get residuals from sales of DVDs. While streaming services really only pay up when the show is first licensed, a little bit of every DVD purchase goes to the people that made it! That's pretty neat, right?

DVDs also come with special features most of the time. You'll be surprised how much weird and cool stuff you can find from the DVD menu of a movie you enjoy. Have you ever wanted behind the scenes information? Perhaps you've always desired a Linkin Park music video on your Twilight Special Edition DVD? Well, you can have it! Seriously, someone take my Twilight Special Edition DVD away from me. WHY IS THERE LINKIN PARK?

Ahem, anyways.

Speaking of, DVDs are often the only ways to get extended editions, director's cuts, and special editions of your favourite movies. Which is an incredibly important part of the art, in my extremely humble opinion.

DVDs also offer a second life to many shows or movies that streaming services didn't want. Which, they're stupid for! Come on! Or even, in the case of my favourite TV show of all time, episodes they don't want.

For this reason I have that show, Community, on DVD. All six seasons. It was like, $60 USD. Which is not bad at all for 97 episodes of PEAK television. (plus 13 episodes of so-so television) I can finally watch Advanced Dungeons and Dragons again. Also, tons of special features! Did I mention the special features? And episode-by-episode commentary?

Digital ownership, as I briefly hinted at above, does not currently exist. No, not on Amazon, or iTunes, or VUDU. They're lying to you. If they ever lost distribution rights of the movie you "own", it might just... disappear. BUT THEY CAN'T TAKE MY DIRECTORS CUT OF BLADE RUNNER ON DVD!

And if they tried, that would be breaking and entering. So, yeah. DVDs rock.

In summation, DVDs can prevent basically every crime listed on the Geneva Convention: censorship, disappearing TV show-itis, identity theft, wallet drainage, lack of Linkin Park, etc. etc.

You could also get blu-ray, I guess. But where's the fun in that?

Nah, I don't care. Virtually all of the benefits of DVD exist on blu-ray for a slightly higher price. (also, a player might be more expensive, but a good amount of DVD players come with blu-ray, so you should be alright)

Movie spotlights
Movie spotlights

Tips for Future DVD Connoisseurs

Firstly, always check the DVD is what you want. Check the quality and the features and all that. Take the same precautions as you would with any other physical purchase.

Secondly, whenever possible, try to buy DVDs from smaller sellers. Small businesses FTW. Understandably, they won't have that wide of a selection, so it's perfectly fine to go to a larger retailer. Remember: the main goal is to support the creator. Buying from Goodwill is fine for older movies or shows whose creatives aren't going to benefit that much from the purchase, but whenever you can try to make the money go right to 'em.

Exception to the above: If the creators are assholes, go to a thrift store or pirate and burn your own DVD.

If you can afford to, I mean. I'm absolutely coming from a place of privilege. If Goodwill DVDs are all you can afford, totally fine. At least you're not funding streaming services. And you'll probably save yourself some money too.

Get a DVD rack or case. Trust me. Life will be ten times easier with one.

CHECK THE REGIONS ON YOUR DVDs AND DVD PLAYER. This one's important. Some DVDs are universal, others have regions. Some DVD players are universal, others have regions. This is to prevent piracy. I'm sure there are ways to get around this, but unless you're into the whole hacking thing and spending far too long trying to figure out why your copy of Dead Poets Society won't play, might be best to just get the US version.

And that's all! Have a great time getting physical with your movies, you cinephile! And yes, please phrase it that way to everyone you meet.

Movie spotlights