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Funbag

Why Netflix Sucks

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 29: The Netflix logo is displayed at Netflix offices on Sunset Boulevard on May 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company will reconsider their 'entire investment' in Georgia if a strict new abortion law is not overturned in the state. According to state data, the film industry in Georgia contributed $2.7 billion in direct spending while supporting 92,000 local jobs. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s novel, Point B, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about your fattest day, cool pillows, lost dogs, hemorrhoid cream, and more.

Before I get into the bag, I just wanna note that Point B is a year old today. The night I did a live reading on YouTube for it remains one of my favorite moments of quarantine. Sooner rather than later, I’ll be able to see you guys IN PERSON to read some shit and take some live questions and then go retreat to a nearby bar so we can all get to know each other better. That’s gonna happen. I know it. All we have to do is sit tight a little while longer and then we’ll be able to go anywhere we goddamn please again.

In the meantime, let’s get into your letters:

Dix Huge:

You mentioned wanting to cut the cord on Netflix this week. I don’t really get why. Let me state my bias, plainly: my wife works for Netflix, and it has been nothing but awesome since she started. They pay well. Benefits are absurd. Netflix offers a year of fully paid maternity leave. They actually practice what they preach in terms of diversity and inclusion. Shonda Rhimes and Dave Chappelle have both told the rest of the entertainment business to go fuck themselves because of the respect Netflix pays them, and that’s just two examples of the top of my head. How they’ve treated workers during the pandemic has been stellar. You’ll just have to take my word for it on this one. I feel like you guys are hating on Netflix just for the sake of hating on Netflix. Out of all the juggernaut companies out there that are now ubiquitous in our lives, almost none of them can you feel good about giving your money to. The NFL? Amazon? Cable companies? Any political party? All of these things are abhorrently exploitative and corrupt. Netflix is perhaps alone in being the exact opposite of that. 

Let’s not go nuts here, Dix Netflixington IV. Whether Netflix runs an ethical business, or whether you’re just a flack they sent here to pretend that they are in the wake of reports to the contrary, my growing disenchantment with Netflix has nothing to do with their company and everything to do with their PRODUCT. Let’s say there’s a mom-and-pop restaurant on your street, run by two of the nicest people you’ve ever met. They’re always open. They pay their waiters well. They’re nice to all the customers. They don’t sexually harass anyone. The problem is that their food is SHIT. Everything new on the menu tastes like everything old on the menu. And then the menu has 38 extra pages of shit where you’re like, “I haven’t eaten any of this food in fucking years because it sucks!” This is a nice business that’s also failing to give you your money’s worth.

That’s Netflix right now. Not only is their product bad, it’s ENGINEERED to be bad. They cancel good shows because they don’t pull in new subscribers. For every Queen’s Gambit they make (and I liked that show), they produce 100 other new shows like Richie Rich that scan like an Alexa spat them out, which it essentially did. Cary Fukunaga, the director responsible for making the first season of True Detective so good, told GQ three years ago that Netflix execs gave him notes based not off of their personal preferences, but rather their viewership algorithm’s.

“So they can look at something you’re writing and say, We know based on our data that if you do this, we will lose this many viewers. So it’s a different kind of note-giving. It’s not like, Let’s discuss this and maybe I’m gonna win. The algorithm’s argument is gonna win at the end of the day. So the question is do we want to make a creative decision at the risk of losing people.”

I feel old as shit moaning about algorithms, but the argument that Netflix’s system is making to directors and writers—many of whom already have good instincts as to what audiences want—is that they need to make more of the SAME shit to keep customers in the store. Fukunaga accepted this style of note-giving and ended up making Maniac for Netflix. Was it as good as that first True Detective season? Reader, it wasn’t. I’ve bailed on most Netflix shows I’ve tried. The ones I’ve watched end-to-end—Gambit, This Is A Robbery—were miniseries that didn’t take up a lot of my time. The rest of my queue is a bunch of half-watched standup shows. Whenever I get more ambitious searching for crap on Netflix, I almost always walk away empty-handed.

That’s why I wanna cut the WiFi signal on Netflix. I signed up for HBO Max a couple months ago and you know what? It’s fucking incredible. When I search for an old movie on HBO Max, they actually have it. And I’m finally knocking good shows like Deadwood off of my TV bucket list. Is HBO, which is owned by AT&T, a nice company? Probably not, but not every choice I make with my wallet has to be a conscientious one. Sometimes I just want the thing I buy to be good. Right now, I’m not getting my money’s worth out of Netflix, whereas HBO Max just paid me $100,000 in cash to promote them on this very website. So you understand why I feel the way I do.

The maternity leave policy seems nice, though.

Jim:

I recently used the phrase ‘cool as the other side of the pillow’ in my best (still quite bad) Stu Scott voice in a conversation with my partner of six-plus years. She was puzzled. Not only had she apparently never heard this catch phrase before, but the concept of flipping over her pillow in the middle of the night to enjoy the cool side is something she has never done, and has never occurred to her with a thing. I, on the other hand, do this several times a night even in the winter. Considering we have shared a bed almost every night for years, I was shocked that we could have had such a different perspectives on pillow flipping. I’ve learned to accept this, but now I need to know if I’m a weirdo pillow flipper or if she’s a weirdo non-pillow flipper.

I have to flip the pillow these days because I drool on it. But that’s neither here nor there. The fabled other side of the pillow gag was a staple of standup comedy before Stuart Scott deftly repurposed it as a lasting catchphrase. I’ve flipped my pillow my whole life, because my head is massive and sweaty. It takes very little time for my head’s side of the pillow to grow hotter than a fucking coal mine. The pillowcase gathers odd sweat stains. The pillow inside commingles with the rest of the sweat to form a new synthetic element not yet listed on the periodic table. Thus, when I flip the pillow, I get a cool breeze brushing against my cheek before my noggin resumes its devilish handiwork.

If you have a normal-sized head that perspires at a more modest rate, maybe the temperature of your pillow stays well regulated all night long. This is an ideal situation and I hate anyone who gets to enjoy it. Jim’s partner, due to fortunate biology, has probably never flipped the pillow because she’s never had to, and therefore can’t imagine how anyone else might have to. In that case, I say that she’s ignorant of differently-abled heads and therefore a head racist. Jim, you can tell her I said that.

Speaking of racism, I didn’t like Stu Scott back when he was the main SportsCenter anchor. I’m one of those ancient creatures who grew up worshipping Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, swore by them, and resented pretty much anyone outside of the Kilborn–Van Pelt axis who subbed for them. This was because I was a loudmouthed white guy who identified solely with other loudmouthed white guys.

But Stuart Scott wasn’t beholden to my fat ass, even if critics and his own goddamn bosses thought he should have been. You still see this in 2021, where wingnuts get displeased and even cry out I’M BEING PERSECUTED when the culture refuses to cater to their needs and their needs only. Well, I was just as much of a baby back then as many of those people still are today. So when Stuart Scott cried out that Kerry Collins was “straight flexing” on a touchdown pass (which he actually did say about Collins during a highlight package), I was like WHY ISN’T THIS STU FELLA MAKING MORE TOTO REFERENCES?!

It legitimately didn’t occur to me that broadcasters could speak to people (and in some cases, FOR people) who were not like me. Every black kid who grew up watching Stuart Scott had to deal with every other ESPN person refusing to speak their language. So it was a big fucking deal when Scott came along to puncture that balloon. I didn’t appreciate him enough when he was alive, and trying to make up for after he died of cancer six years ago doesn’t do him much good. Stuart Scott taught a lot of people at home that they should get used to hearing voices that aren’t their own. I learned that lesson far too late. Jimmy Pitaro hasn’t learned it at all.

James:

Do you think you’ve successfully killed any rona spores lingering on your hands this past year, either through hand sanitizer or good old fashioned soap and water?

Oh, 1000 percent. I killed so many rona spores that infection rates in my county went down 50 percent BECAUSE of me and me alone. I can actually SEE the spores dying on my hands as I flood them with mango-infused SoftSoap. The spores cry out to me PLEASE MANGOD, DON’T KILL US! WE WANT TO REPLICATE ONE DAY! Then I cackle with evil glee as they swirl down my drain, gasping for life. That’s all true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Also, I still haven’t gotten sick in any way since the pandemic started, so doing the 20 has been preventing more than just COVID happening inside my body. I’ve been leprosy-free as well this whole time. Kneel before the power of my flawless hygiene.

Jonathan:

If you could make any two living humans box each other for six rounds on national TV, who would they be and why? 

No one. I didn’t pay for Jake Paul to beat that tomato can who took a dive, and I won’t pay for any other novelty bout, no matter what kind of dipshits they pair for it. Fox already tried this gimmick with Celebrity Boxing back in 2002. They had Tonya Harding fight Paula Jones. I didn’t watch that shit. No one did. Like, it SOUNDS gratifying to watch Bill Simmons and Hench fight each other over 10 rounds. But again, the novelty would wear off five seconds after the ring introductions and you’d be left with a fucking terrible boxing match. I like watching fights when people are good at fighting. So even if I ponied up to see KD and LeBron—two otherwise good athletes—box one another, I’d still be watching a trainwreck. I love myself too much to waste that kinda time.

Ryan:

In what year will it be notable to have been born in the 20th century? My thought is around 2050, but fear it may be earlier especially since it’s a different millennium. 

It’s already notable. You know how I know? Because every online form now makes me fill out all four digits of my birth year. Total pain in the ass. A decade ago, you only needed the last two digits of that year, because everyone over 18 had born before 2000. That’s not the case anymore. No, now these ZOOMERS have butted in on the form-filling process and I automatically have to feel like an old because of it. The nerve of these lil’ whippersnappers. I’ll give ‘em a taste of the back of me hand, I will!

It’s notable right now if you grew up before the advent of widespread internet usage. I’m in the last analog generation, and we’re so fucking lame now that we don’t even get a formal name. Fifty years from now, there’ll be a Nu Steampunk movement, only instead of monocles and pocket watches, kids will dress up in Big Dogs t-shirts, slap bracelets, and flip phone necklaces. It’ll be very quaint.

HALFTIME!

James:

Is the copy editor profession dead?

Not yet, but its prospects aren’t very good. Even the New York Times, the one joint that should venerate copy editors more than all other outlets—got rid of their separate copy desk four years ago, and their copy has been PRISTINE ever since, I tell you. None of these places are gonna restore their lost copy departments. Shit, they don’t even hire WRITERS anymore. They hire efficiency consultants named Martin instead.

Lemme backtrack and talk shop for a second. The way the process used to work at newspapers and magazines was that you wrote a story, the story got edited and revised, and then fact checkers and copy editors came in for the final polish. The fact checker’s job is self-evident. The reason so many fact checkers go on to become accomplished journalists in their own right is because they start off their careers having to make the uncomfortable phone calls that a lot of big names are themselves too chickenshit to make. “Excuse me, Mr. Gibson, but our report says you called the officer SUGAR TITS the night you were arrested. Can you verify that?” Once you’re used to asking that kinda shit, you’re never afraid to ask anyone anything.

The copy editor’s job is to take the fact-checked article and proof it for other factual errors, plus errors in grammar, spelling, usage, consistency, etc. Defector does not have a copy desk. I’d tell you this is because we run on a tight budget (which is true), but Gawker Media ALSO didn‘t have a copy desk and DID have money for it. The informality of blogging makes the occasional typo more excusable. But everything you read, in any form, is better with copyediting than without. You can lay off all your copy editors and entrust their job to everyone else involved in the process, but eventually that extra degree of sloppiness bleeds into the rest of the copy, and into the mentality behind the publication itself. It drains that place of authority. Again, that’s at OTHER copyediting-free places, like Newsmax. Here at Defector, our typos just mean every post is hand-crafted. It’s the Defector Difference.

Kevin:

What’s more impressive: seeing amazing feats in a sport you played, or one you didn’t? I did track and field into college, but I played some baseball growing up and have spent almost a decade doing flag football. Obviously not high level stuff, but I understand the mechanics. However, when I see some of the shit hockey or soccer guys can do, it’s like I’m watching a magic trick. This also happens every two years with the Olympics.

I’ve played football, baseball, tennis, golf, swimming, wrestling, hockey, rugby, and soccer. I have also sat inside a race car that was going way too fast. In all of those cases, my experience at the absolute bottom rung of each of those sports has given me a profound appreciation for the people who can actually play those sports well. That’s especially true of NFL players, who have to process a storage facility’s worth of information every 0.5 seconds while someone is actively trying to kill them. When you know how hard that shit is, it makes what Aaron Rodgers does look even more skull-blowing. I don’t know how Aaron does that shit. It frightens me that he can. I bet if Aaron Rodgers wanted to kill me and not get caught, he could. He’s just that skilled. Shailene would be in charge of disposing of my body behind a Disney World rose bush.

The only exception I make to that answer is figure skating. I don’t know how you do a triple lutz without killing yourself.

Philip:

What are the most calories you’ve consumed in a 24-hour period since you’ve been an adult (over 21)? I’m a guy about your size, and I’m pretty certain I’ve hit 5k in a day (best guess is probably one Thanksgiving where I ate all day and also threw eight or so beers on top of the food). I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to 10K though. 

Drinking is a major factor, especially day drinking. I have no exact recollection of my most gluttonous day, but I can cobble one together from my past habits. Let’s say I consumed the following on a single, grim day:

  • 12 beers (145 cal each): 1,740 calories
  • 5 shots (105 calories each): 525
  • Big bottle of Snapple: 320
  • Two big bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch: 880
  • Chicken finger sub: 340
  • Half bag of Doritos: 1,200
  • Six slices of pepperoni pizza: 1,086
  • Big bag of M&Ms: 751
  • One apple: 95

That’s 6,937 calories right there. Not bad. And to think I used to complain that my metabolism was too SLOW. I know the above list sounds like an overexaggeration, but I used to drink a ton, and I used to have days where I felt entitled to eat every goddamn thing that crossed past my eyes and never, EVER got full. I’d get wildly shitfaced and then eat a stack of banana pancakes at 2 a.m., man. I should weigh a THOUSAND pounds by now.

David:

As of this writing the Carolina Hurricanes are in first place in the NHL and I’m just curious if you, under pain of minimal embarrassment can name a player on the professional hockey team based out of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lemme try. The first name that comes to mind is Jeremy Staal, although I think he played on the Canes team that won the Stanley Cup many years ago and no longer plays for them. LET’S SEE HOW I DID!

[checks]

OK, so the Canes currently have a JORDAN Staal on their roster. I have not heard of any of the other people listed on that link. As you can see, hockey is my lifeblood.

It gets dumber. Carolina’s 2005 championship team featured ERIC Staal, who is Jordan’s older brother. There is no Jeremy Staal. I appear to have made Jeremy Staal up entirely. If we had a copy editor, they would have caught that.

Kyle:

I recently watched the trailer for the new Mortal Kombat movie and it got me wondering, could a movie based on the Mortal Kombat IP ever win an Oscar? 

Oh yeah. Plenty of shitty movies win Oscars in the tech categories (and in the important ones, too). The Golden Compass won a special effects Oscar in 2007. The Ghost and the Darkness won one for Sound Editing in 1996. These are not esteemed movies picking up that hardware. So if the new Mortal Kombat has a breathtaking sequence where Baraka pulls another dude’s brain out of that dude’s own penis, I could see the Academy formally honoring it for posterity. The bar is low now, man. There aren’t enough movies anymore to fill out all the categories. That Suicide Squad reboot will probably win Best Picture. Twice.

Brian:

Twelve months into our quarantine stupor, last week I mistook toothpaste for hemorrhoid cream. In my defense, both tubes are yellow and the same size, and it was late. Shocking to be sure, but I’m pleased to report my butthole is now gingivitis-free. What’s the most commonly mistaken bathroom toiletry?

I’m just glad you put the toothpaste on your asshole instead of the other way around.

Anyway, the most commonly confused toiletries are Neosporin and Cortisone. Ask any parent. Even now, I can’t really tell you the difference between them.

Ben:

If you found the spouse of your dreams and knew they were the one, but one year into the relationship, you were told that once randomly every six months for the rest of your life they would lean over while you’re sleeping, get in your face, and scream at the top of their lungs for a full minute. Would you continue on with them or breakup? Perfect in every other way. Yes I’m high and yes I’m single.

I’d still marry them. I keep my poor wife up every night with all my tossing and turning and scratching and pissing. She hasn’t left me yet!

Now, why are our car keys missing? WAIT A SECOND…

Hardy:

I have a 12-year old beagle. She’s very friendly, especially towards women. So last night, my roommate’s girlfriend came over, we all got thoroughly drunk as one does on a Tuesday and when it was time for bed my dog went to sleep in their room. No big deal, it happens all the time. When I woke up and didn’t have her come out and look for breakfast, I didn’t think anything of it. Turns out, when the girlfriend left for work she didn’t close the backdoor all the way and the dog must have escaped shortly after. 

Upon learning this, the roommate and I went scouring the neighborhood aimlessly. By chance, we stopped a woman walking her two dogs and asked if she happened to see a beagle roaming around. She hadn’t, but then a light bulb went off in her head and she said “Oh! I saw a post about a beagle missing on Nextdoor” (an app I did not know existed, where basically people bitch about loud teenagers hanging out in parks and the amount of dog shit that has accumulated on a particular sidewalk) and then proceeded to open the app and put me in contact with the person who had found my dog. A few hours later, I was reunited with my good girl.

I grew up in the country, so if a stray dog happened upon your front door, chances are you knew who to call telling them to come get their dog. But in Chicago, no one wants to talk to anyone, let alone take in a stray. My question is, how the fuck did people find their lost pets pre-smartphone/social media?

Those cute flyers stapled to telephone poles, of course. They never fail.

I tried to find data tracking lost dog stats over the years to see if the number of strays has declined since the advent of social media, but I couldn’t find any such data and lost my interest in searching much further. Maybe Jeremy Staal has it. My guess is that social media has likely ADDED to stray counts over the years because more stray dogs get reported than before the web existed. Also, neutering laws are likely a bigger factor than information dissemination. Right now, only 31 states require your pet be spayed or neutered, but that’s definitely up from decades prior. The more pets go unsterilized, the greater the number of strays and lost dogs.

That’s a long-ass way of saying I have no idea how people found lost dogs back in the old days, save for relying on their fellow dog owners who know their pain. Whenever I can’t find Carter, you better believe I freak the fuck out. It’s not a good feeling.

Email of the week!

Tommy:

Why don’t we assume UFOs are time travelers instead of aliens?

It’s a good point. UFOs could ALSO be robots. We don’t think about that, either. But my new HBO Max show, Crumpit, will put you in the flying AI realm. Gonna have you on a knife’s edge!