Sep 012011
Authors: Matt Miller

There are some days the world never forgets.

The day the stock market crashed, the day the Berlin Wall fell, the day that President Clinton said he was not having sexual relations with a White House intern and the day Kim Kardashian got married. But yesterday, Sept. 1, is a day that will live in our hearts in infamy.

Yesterday, Netflix –– the hero of the recession-suffering collegiate youth, the savior that had smote the corporate monster, Blockbuster, the visionary that told fat cats we would not pay more than a pittance to rent a movie –– raised its monthly rates by 60 percent.

Now, customers who paid a glorious $9.99 a month for DVD delivery and unlimited streaming will have to make other plans. They can pay $8 for one DVD a month, $8 a month for unlimited streaming or $16 a month for both.

It’s as if Bob Dylan played a censored show in China, it’s as if George Lucas made a fourth terrible “Indiana Jones,” as if Columbus was really a murdering pig or if Congress failed to save America’s credit rating.

Is nothing sacred?

Is it our fault? How did we get so attached to Netflix that the company was comfortable raising prices by 60 percent and knew it could keep customers?

Well it’s pretty obvious. We love three things: 1) Instant gratification, 2) Entertainment and 3) Things that are cheap.

Now, Netflix is making us choose between the things we love most. Should we choose to watch the few (mostly crappy) movies that are available instantly? Should we choose from receiving any movie we want, but having to wait a few days? Or should we choose to pay $180 a year for both?
This is nothing if not an ethical dilemma.

I want to watch “Mad Men,” or “Robocop” or random documentaries any time I want. I want to be able to order the “Citizen Kane” DVD or episodes of “The Wire,” but I also want money (the salary of a college journalist is far from spectacular).

I know I’m not alone in feeling torn by my three true loves.

This is the age Netflix was born for. Netflix is the Napoleon of the 21st century. It came here to liberate us from our terrible paychecks, our mundane lives and our Internet-induced restlessness.

But now here is Netflix declaring itself the emperor of France, and Beethoven would be ashamed.

Does anything that becomes moderately successful eventually become consumed with greed?

It does, and that’s because once we get a taste for something (Napster, coffee refills, heroine) it becomes part of our daily lives, and paying for it just seems OK.

With this move however, Netflix may have crossed a line. Yesterday, in a Time article titled, “Will subscribers start fleeing Netflix?,” the magazine explained how online forums and surveys have had tens of thousands of people swearing they will cancel their memberships.

The magazine cited one survey that reported 15 percent of Netflix users would cancel their subscription all together.

It’s time to see what our generation will do. Will instant gratification and entertainment outweigh their pocketbooks or will they stand fast to their morals and save the money?

I would like to think there is more to our generation than three rules. I would like to think that we will show Netflix we are more than a sign that says “cheap, fast and fun.”

With Netflix gone, something else will take its place just as fast as Netflix and Redbox replaced Blockbuster.

Either way, yesterday marked not only a turning point in the entertainment industry, but also a look at what is important to our consumer culture.

Hopefully one day we will remember Netflix like HD DVD.

News Editor Matt Miller can be reached at

 Posted by at 4:27 pm

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