A Final Plea From One of Netflix’s Abandoned DVDs
I’ve seen democracy decay, wars begin and end, convertible cargo pant-shorts rise and fall, and babies conceived feet away from me—while I sat unnoticed. As people watched me, I’ve heard them call me “dogshit” more times than I can count, or snore, or mutter to their loved ones, “what the hell are we watching?” or “I’m sorry, but Kevin Costner is absurdly hot in this.”
I spent most of my life in a cold warehouse, patiently waiting to be loved, but I’ve been everywhere. I’ve been licked by toddlers. I spent two months in 2003 under an empty box of Papa John’s in a flophouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Over one Saturday in October 1999, a family of eight in Billings, Montana, watched me four times back-to-back. They didn’t even eat or go to the bathroom. It was weird, but it was the best day of my life. I am a Digital Versatile Disc, a copy of the 1997 post-apocalyptic flop The Postman (8 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). I am a proud soldier in Netflix’s ranks, and I am about to die.
On April 18, Netflix announced that after 25 years it is ending its DVD-by-mail subscription service. I’m sorry, Ted Sarandos, my lord, savior, and undertaker, but this is dogshit. You are abandoning your most loyal customers. You are abandoning your company’s origins. You are abandoning cinephiles and citizens living off the grid. You are abandoning one of the last vestiges of a more connected, curious, humane world.
Remember the Revolution, Ted? Remember when me and Flubber and The Fifth Element and She’s All That and Carrot Top’s Chairman of the Board joined forces with the USPS, those high-socked hit men, and we launched an all-out blitzkrieg that won over the hearts and minds of American families and slaughtered VHS, Hollywood Video, and Blockbuster? The elation, the savagery!
Remember the ecstasy writ on the faces of countless exhausted parents when, sifting through AT&T and insurance bills, they laid eyes on our red envelope—a symbol of our bloodlust—and it meant an evening of bliss was ahead of them in the form of Agent Cody Banks and Snow Dogs and Shark Boy and Lava Girl? Remember when the cover art to every early 2000s romcom DVD promised 93 minutes of “outrageously sexy fun”? Remember the menu screen, the tantalizing bonus features, like an exclusive interview with the Runaway Jury Foley artist, or the sizzling photo gallery featurette for Girl Next Door? Remember the machine’s clicks and whirrs and beeps that reminded the customer they were in control, they had filled out the order form with their hands and were loading up the majesty of entertainment with their bodies? Remember we were the future?
Remember what we’ve sacrificed for your millions, Ted, your company’s billions? Remember the pools of sweat dripped onto us by moody 15-year-olds watching on a portable DVD player in the way back of a Ford Windstar? Remember the number of times we’ve been ejected and tossed like Frisbees? Remember the scratches and the smears of pepperoni saliva that were breathed onto us when we weren’t loading? I’m proud of these scars. They’re reminders of our conquest. They’re reminders of what the made world can bring.