In a new update being trialled by Netflix, users are now able to adjust the speed at which they watch films and shows. So the next time you’re struggling to decipher Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf as she takes down the Upper East Side social sphere, why not slow her down by 50%? Likewise, if you’re struggling to concentrate through an elongated narrative from El Camino’s Jesse Pinkman, speed that sucker up! For certain Android customers, it’s now possible to watch Netflix at anything from half the normal speed, to one-and-a-half times faster. But while binge-watchers are rejoicing, a slew of actors and directors are less than pleased with the update.
"We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen” said 40-year-old Virgin and Superbad director, Jude Apatow. Fellow director Brad Bird echoed his sentiments; "Why support and finance visions on one hand and then work to destroy the presentation of those films on the other???" Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul declared the changes, “would mean [Netflix] are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it.”
BRAD BIRD, DIRECTOR
While Hollywood vehemently rejects the update, Netflix changes echo a wider cultural shift prioritising speed and efficiency over consuming media the way it’s creators anticipated . Netflix’s new feature is hardly unique, the iphone podcast app has always offered the capacity to play podcasts at half or double time, while audio book services like Audible also offer multiple speed options. Spritz, a speed reading app explains that, “only 20% of your reading time is spent processing the context of a text and 80% is devoted to moving the eyes between words”. By eliminating that latter 80%, Spritz - which essentially blasts one word at a time in quick succession - allows readers to race to the backpage and get through books a whole lot quicker.
We’re arguably living in the age of double speed, but is it an egregious display of quantity over quality, or do we have every right to speed up the clock? Is the price of rushing through that we miss out on the rhythm of a text, or the mood of a film? Have we lost the ability to concentrate without the help of speed altering software? Sorry, tl;dr.