It’s no secret that dedicated cinephile and 70mm advocate Quentin Tarantino is not a fan of Netflix. After all, this is a director who still watches VHS and tapes things off television. However, Tarantino’s resistance to the digital future isn’t simply borne from an irrational nostalgia to the past. Instead, the former video store employee believes that Netflix has created in audiences an unwillingness to take a chance on something completely unknown to them and stick with it to the end, instead of tuning out if it doesn’t grab their attention immediately.
Yellow King Film Boy has unearthed an interview excerpt with Tarantino, where he elaborates his feelings about Netflix, and reminisces about the sense of discovery that accompanied browsing the aisles of the video store. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s very sad to me. It’s very, very sad to me. And I’m a little surprised how quickly it happened, and I’m a little surprised at how the public has moved on, and no one’s looking back, and they don’t really care. And it’s not just out of the nostalgia. I’m not on Netflix so I can’t even tell you exactly how that works. Even if you just have all the movie channels in your [cable] package, and that’s something I do have, you hit the guide, and you go down the list and you…watch something or you tape something and maybe you never get around to watching it or you actually do watch it, and then maybe you watch it for ten minutes or twenty minutes, and maybe you start doing something else, and [you decide], ‘Nah, I’m not really into this. That’s kind of where we’ve fallen into.
However, there was a different quality to the video store. You looked around, you picked up boxes, you read the back of the boxes. You made a choice, and maybe you talked to the guy behind the counter, and maybe he pointed you toward something. And he didn’t just put something in your hand, he gave you a little bit of a sales pitch on it to some degree or another. And so the point being is, you were kind of invested, in a way that you’re not invested with electronic technology when it comes to the movies. Now, of course, we all rented three movies and didn’t get around to watching the third one, but there was more of a commitment to what you ended up getting. And maybe you went down to the store to get “Top Gun,” and that’s what you wanted, and you got “Top Gun,” but then you picked up something you never heard about before, just because you wanted something more than “Top Gun.” And maybe it’s something that caught your eye, you didn’t know anything about it, and you took a chance. But you rented it, so you actually wanted to try and watch it some degree or another. And that’s what’s really lost — in a weird way, what’s lost is commitment.
I understand Tarantino’s sentiment, but it’s not like VHS prevented people from stopping a movie halfway through if they didn’t like it. Granted, it is true that during that era, you didn’t have a zillion other options to choose from, so sometimes you powered through a mediocre movie simply because it was all you had to watch. Some might argue more choice is a good thing, but Tarantino seems to believe that people simply wind up gravitating to things they know they’ll enjoy rather than rolling the dice. Perhaps there’s some truth in that.
Thoughts? Hit up the comments section.