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Netflix’s playback feature does a disservice to its content

Netflix’s playback feature does a disservice to its content

Netflix’s playback feature does a disservice to its content
November 22
18:33 2019

Netflix received backlash after testing a new playback feature on its Android mobile app that allowed users to speed up or slow down movies and shows to their liking.

“We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “This test makes it possible to vary the speed at which people watch shows on their mobiles. As with any test, it may not become a permanent feature on Netflix.”

While this feature is popular among podcasts and audiobooks, there is some cause for concern when it comes to Netflix’s content. Filmmakers have expressed their disapproval of the new feature and how it affects their work.

Judd Apatow, director of the 2007 comedy “Knocked Up,” tweeted, “Don’t make me have to call every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this. Save me the time. I will win but it will take a ton of time. Don’t f–k with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen.”

With the plethora of many streaming services available, new features constantly being released only help to catapult the streaming wars. While new technology features can be exciting, there are issues that need to be addressed on how far those features should be allowed to go. 

Peter Ramsey, director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” tweeted, “Does everything have to be designed for the laziest and most tasteless?”

I agree with these directors’ criticism of this new feature. By speeding up content on Netflix, movies and television shows become stripped down to nothing but a plot point with this feature. It disrupts the movie or show in its purest, original form and allows for no appreciation of the layered techniques that add depth to these forms of media.

In response to all of the negative feedback, Netflix’s vice president ,Keela Robinson, released a blog post stating, “It’s a feature that has long been available on DVD players — and has been frequently requested by our members. For example, people looking to rewatch their favorite scene or wanting to go slower because it’s a foreign language title. We’ve been sensitive to creator concerns and haven’t included bigger screens, in particular, TVs, in this test.”

Even though this is just a test for mobile devices, this statement shows that Netflix is more concerned with winning the streaming wars than the creative concerns that have been voiced by directors. 

This particular Netflix feature disrupts the integrity of directors’ creations, as well as the performances of the actors. There’s something to be said about watching movies and shows the way they were intended to be watched in the right way.

Directors are artists, and their movies are the artwork that they create. They have a vision for their pieces, and it’s disrespectful to take what someone has spent hours and hours perfecting and alter it.

Directors are very intentional when it comes to their work, so allowing users to mess with timing is allowing them to change the message the director was trying to send. I can understand wanting to slow down a video for educational purposes or to better understand films in other languages, but speeding it up just to get through it is disrespectful. My biggest qualm is indeed with the speed up feature, which makes the movies or shows more about the ending than the overall experience of watching something.

After all, it is all about the journey.

Featured Illustration: Kylie Phillips

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Vivian Berreondo

Vivian Berreondo

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