Thursday, July 7, 2016
Netflix and Binge
Read Kate Tigue's column in the July 7, 2016 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Kate is a Children's Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.
Sometimes sunny days are just too sunny. That’s what I used to tell my mom when I was a kid and sick of being outside in the summer. She thought I was nuts. She may still think I’m nuts. I’m not a home-grown New Englander but I can complain about the weather with the best of them. Yes, I griped about the cold and the snow all winter and groused about any rainy day in the spring. Summer is finally here and the weather has been perfect. Like San Diego-perfect. Like it’s a crime-to-stay-inside perfect. And yet...sometimes sunny days are just too sunny!
I once had a colleague tell me how burnt out he was after he moved to California. A native Northeasterner, he had been programmed from birth to get outside the minute the weather turned warm. Of course, every day in Southern California is gorgeous and so he spent every spare minute pursuing outdoor activities. He completely exhausted himself with too much sunshine! Californians didn’t think anything of staying inside since they had complete assurance that tomorrow would be just as beautiful as today. But my colleague had not yet learned how to pace himself in the face of perfect climate conditions.
So what are we to do when this amazing weather just wears us down? We don’t have the kind of endurance that residents of warmer climates do. The long, hot dog days of summer are coming and there will most definitely be a point when “sunny days are just too sunny”. We need to make sure we have enough down time if we are to survive this unnatural good weather. As a librarian, I feel obligated to remind you to have a good book at the ready for such days when it’s all too much. But I’m a realist. I know a lot of us need passive entertainment. So it’s time to “Netflix and binge”, as the kids say. Not on food but on the Golden Age of television that is currently sweeping the nation. Binge watching is our latest TV phenomenon and the library is on board.
What is binge-watching? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, binge-watching is the act of watching multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming. Binge watching has changed the way the we watch television and certainly the way we critique a show’s content. Binge watching has even changed the way streaming services and networks deliver shows for viewing, most notably with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video making whole new seasons of shows available on one specific day. It’s actually become a point of pride in certain circles to brag about how long it took you to binge on the latest season of your favorite show.
Not everyone approves of this trend. In 2012 for Slate Magazine, Jim Pagels calls binge-watching a pandemic and claims that watching episodes in rapid succession ruins the joy and the artistic merit of TV as a format. Pagels posits traditional television schedules offer viewers time to develop deep relationships with characters over a number of years and the critical distance to build up plot analysis necessary to enjoying long story arcs. That theory is unnecessarily archaic and doesn’t give smart TV viewers enough credit for their critical eye. It also doesn’t acknowledge reality! We live in an age where appointment television is not something our busy lives can accommodate. We can, however, fit our favorite programs in when time allows and binge watching caters to our full schedules.
So how does the library support the art of the binge-watch? First, any TV series on DVD that the library owns will now circulate for three weeks instead of one. Even though binge-watching is consuming our culture, library staff found that our patrons don’t let it consume their whole lives and that one week was simply not enough time to finish an entire season of a show. Secondly, the library now subscribes to our very own online streaming service, Hoopla. Hoopla give all Norwood residents with a Morrill Memorial Library card access to hundreds of TV shows that can be streamed on any computer through Hoopla’s website or any mobile device with the free Hoopla app.
Finally, the library circulates four actual Roku streaming devices to our patrons! The Roku 1 allows our patrons with older TVs to turn them into smart TVs! This device comes with a remote, one HDMI cable, a set of standard A/V hookups, and instructions. In addition, the library also owns three Roku Streaming Sticks. These portable devices can be hooked up to any HDMI port on a computer or TV. All of these Roku devices allow you to use various streaming services to watch TV and movies. The library has also subscribed to a Netflix account for our Roku streaming devices. Additionally, the Roku search feature on all its devices will allow people to search for content across multiple streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBOGo. The library’s Roku streaming devices have become very popular so be sure to speak to a staff member about reserving one if you are interested in borrowing one.
Posted by Charlotte Canelli at 12:00 AM