Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Queue It Up...NOW.

Very often I find myself on the fence about things.
Take “instant” for, er, instance.
What just prompted me is a message from Netflix telling me that a movie which is in our DVD Queue is now available to “Watch Instantly” (streamed to our TiVo.) So I can view it whenever I please.

It didn’t always work that way. Instantly. Lordy. I remember when being able to watch a movie had been an event. That’s right, an event. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz could only be seen once a year. If you missed it… you missed it. Your life stopped for it. “Can’t. Oz is on tonight.” True story: I believe it had been in my final year of middle school. A friend, KM, shocked us with a statement one day. The fateful day. KM said, “I’m going to skip The Wizard of Oz this year.” Honestly, it had been a proverbial bombshell. Purposely skip watching The Wizard of Oz? Unheard of! But KM meant it, delivering an explanation about growing up (in a healthy way, not in any sort of attack or derogatory remark about Oz) or some such thing… and we tried to talk him out of it. Unable to truly tear himself away, KM wound up watching large chunks of it, as I recall. And nowadays? You can watch it any night you like, as often as you like. Hell, you can even go directly to your favorite scene! Whereas before you had to time the replenishing of your drink and snacks within the commercial breaks.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great. But I just can’t help but feel like something is sorely lacking in terms of anticipatory glee in our lives. Another prime example is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The night Rudolph aired had been just as important as Xmas day itself! We’d check the TV Guide (we used the one that came with the Sunday newspaper) each week in December, knowing that one of them would be the big night. What a treat it had been! You also had to hunt for the “big” nights of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas. And now…you can just pop all of ‘em in for your own little Xmas special marathon.

Again, it’s not entirely without merit. I recently became hooked, okay, I’ll admit it, obsessed with a cartoon series. I came across it by chance (though I had heard of it before) and [ahem!] instantly fell in love with it. I knew I had to see more. Since our world is not only often “instant” but many times over-saturated, I set the TiVo to record episodes (of which about four played a day.) So I viewed more and loved it all the more with each episode. I soon learned Netflix streamed the first few seasons. Wowsers! That meant I could watch them ALL… I could feed my need, instantly. I liked being able to do that, certainly. But still, it deprives me of the pleasure of waiting for another episode. (Granted, it plays loads of times as I said, but just in general, it’s nice to have that build up.)

Yes, we still have that feeling to some degree. Whether it be waiting for a particular movie to arrive or even new episodes of our favorite TV shows. But still, chances are all the old episodes are available in an instant.

There used to be a time when one would carefully pick and choose what movies to go see in theater. Now the attitude is, “Looks good. I’ll catch it on video.” It must appear quite special or “worthy” of a big screen (of course, I also have one of those, too) …bigger screen.

It's not just TV and movies either. Our photos are instant. Even editable right there on the camera the instant after it's taken. Can you imagine having no idea if the picture "came out" at all until the glorious day when you received your envelope full of pictures? (Even that wait went from a week to a few days to "within an hour" ... good grief!)

So, not that it’s any great revelation, but it’s my two cents for the pile of regrets or sighing or embitterment or cocked head or whatever one wants to call it for the lost art of anticipation.


Anon said...

I very much agree--the proverb that anticipation of a thing can be better than the thing itself does have a point, I've come to learn.

I have "the complete series" of several TV shows I like, but I rarely watch them--instead I catch them when they're actually ON TV.

Why? Why don't I watch them on DVD if I have them and can do it? The only answer I can give is "It's just not the same...."

To a lesser extent I do that with movies sometimes as well....

Mel said...

Julie and I have frequently had "arguments" when some movie will come on tv. I'll want to watch it and Julie will say, "But we own it! We could watch it anytime!" And I always respond, "Yes, but it's on NOW, and I want to watch it NOW!"

It always makes me wonder why I bother to own movies or series on DVD. And yet . . . I do.

Danielle Mari said...

With my crazy schedule, I rarely watch tv anymore... so instant viewing via Netflix has been such a gift for me. I know I can get home, make some hot chocolate and watch the next episode of Weeds, or Heroes, or Glee, or whatever. And you bet I feel the anticipation!
At the same time, I know what you mean. It used to be such an event to see something you HAD to be home at 8pm to see. And the rush to go pick up your photo prints from the store? Delicious.
Now we stand in front of the microwave, tapping our foot and muttering, "Hurry UP!"
Ah well. All high class problems, though :D