I love my wife, but I don't love her taste in movies. In her movies, explosions, machine guns, cyborg assassins, aliens, and monsters are replaced by conversations, love stories, and dialogue — so much dialogue that the characters all develop personalities, and relationships, and stuff. My characters have no use for personalities. They only need a few grunts and a rocket launcher. Because of our divergent preferences, the recommendation engine on our shared Netflix account tries to find, “action movies with a strong emotional story,” or “gory sci-fi romantic comedies.” We often sit on the couch, arm in arm, and laugh derisively at Netflix, as it futilely attempts to find movie choices that bridge the divide. Poor Netflix.
It seems that Netflix was aware of to our cruel little japes at their algorithms, as they rolled out a new profiles system last week. Netflix users can now create multiple, specific profiles per account, to better direct the recommendation engine. Instead of scrolling through “cyborg assassin flicks featuring Matthew McConaughey” (whose name, I am proud to say, I had to Google to spell), I can give my beloved grunting and explosions their own little corner on the magic red screen. When it comes to the problems in my life, the Netflix recommendation dilemma was definitely near the top of the list. Crisis averted!
While setting up my brand new Netflix profile, I began to think of the features Netflix is still missing. After somber reflection, which was accompanied by the rattle of Tom Hanks’ Thompson submachine gun, I came up with five recommendations for Netflix that would fix even more of my first-world problems.
1. The Pop Culture CliffsNotes Button
True story: During college, I played flag football for a team known as The Holy Shirts and Pants. Being the only person in the world who has never watched, Wedding Crashers, the reference was completely lost on me. Although I have three versions of the team T-shirt, I still do not have a clue about the name on them. What if Netflix could rescue me from my ignorance? The Pop Culture CliffsNotes Button could link to a short video that collects all the stupid movie references that everyone expects you to understand. It would serve as exam prep for sitting at the cool kids’ lunch table. Think of the possibilities. An otherwise-geeky girl could use the button to spout off a witty line from The Hangover, and then take off her glasses, get a makeover, and become the prom queen, or something.
2. The Waterworld Button
This feature is for those particularly bad movies you wish you had never watched. Named after the granddaddy of those movies, Waterworld, the button would reclaim your wasted brain cells, and the hours you spent gazing at the scum on the bottom of Hollywood’s refrigerator door. While such a function will require some assistance from Mulder and Scully, the Men In Black, or a government agency tasked with researching time travel, it could literally stop us from wasting time. The research and development involved might drive up Netflix's monthly subscription price, but any increase would be a small price to pay for removing Starship Troopers and Borat from my brain.
3. The How It Should Have Ended Button
This one is for those movies that spend an hour and a half telling you one story, only to finish a completely different tale (see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). This button would make the movie end like we all knew it should have ended. Maybe the hero was supposed to die heroically while saving the girl, but came out unhurt on the other side of the explosion, ready to film a sequel. That just ain’t right. This button could even include the option to correct trailers, like one that tells you a movie is a historical drama, when it's actually an overblown love story (I am looking at you, Cold Mountain).
4. The Bleepin’ Bad Parts Button
How many times have you been watching a movie, only to have a grandparent or relative walk in during an uncomfortably intimate section of the story? With the Bleepin’ Bad Parts Button, Netflix could rescue millions of movie lovers from awkward family conversations punctuated by F-bombs and groans. Netflix would be doing a service to Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings everywhere.
5. The Quick Switch Button
Imagine you experience a rare lapse in academic judgment while in the school library, and select the newest episode of your favorite show, instead of the documentary on the Spanish American War that you're supposed to watch for class. In the middle of the best part of the show, you see your professor coming down the hall to check on her little Einsteins. With a quick press of this button, Netflix would jump to the middle of the appropriate film, saving you from a lecture about the superiority of the Chinese educational system. After impressing your professor with your scholastic diligence, another quick tap would pick up your show where you left it. Your professor will boast of your brilliance. Your parents will hear that praise and love you again, and even rewrite their will to omit that nasty business about disinheriting you because of your laziness. All because of Netflix.