The Hamilton Spectator
Netflix rule changes a moral fibre reality check
Funny how the world has changed since the pandemic. Thanks to the agility of capitalism, Netflix, whose foolish slogan was once “Love is sharing a password,” is reversing itself. Sharing is no longer caring. It is stealing.
From now on, customers in two locations are considered to be two customers, not one, even if one gave birth to the other or they’re sleeping together and no one knew about it but Netflix. There are extra fees for everyone you add to your password in locations outside your home.
If you once made 15 friends very quickly by generously sharing your password, Netflix will no longer assume you have a very large and loving family. Rather than raising rates overall, Netflix is making things more complicated, just like airlines do. For some reason, people don’t mind paying extra, bit by bit, but will not tolerate a simple overall price increase. It’s inexplicable but true.
According to the CBC, Netflix has 250 million paying customers around the world, and about 100 million of them share their passwords. Now tens of millions of people will pay up or become thieves, stealing from our darling Netflix, which, along with glorious HBO, opened new worlds to us when legacy TV faded.
Remember how it all started, when “The Sopranos” made us realize that TV drama could be better than TV or movies, thick, morally ambivalent, funny and sick, heavily populated with narrative strands that lasted for years, with music that became your life’s soundtrack, with characters you adhered to and watched die horribly instead of a saccharine happy ending?
Streaming gave us the mass swarming killings by techno-bees in “Black Mirror,” chess genius Beth Harmon drinking herself blotto in “The Queen’s Gambit,” the toothless Pennsatucky in “Orange is the New Black,” Phoebe WallerBridge getting blotto and cuddling hamsters in “Fleabag,” Prince Charles’s hoglike moaning in “The Crown,” Natasha Lyonne waking up to “Gotta get up, gotta get up” to die over and over again on “Russian Doll,” standup John Mulaney’s “horse loose in a hospital” bit about Trump.
Netflix drama taught us about money, social class, and human pain. Now in hard times, we’re learning new lessons about these concepts, how to tell little white lies.
I never shared passwords. If I buy a bad book, I shred it rather than put it out on the curb for free. Writers must be paid for their work. In the same way, I felt I owed Netflix morally for the pleasure it gave me, however dopey its business strategy.
Already, people are confessing to many smaller sins. They boast of stealing from Loblaws. Don’t worry, if I see you do these things, I say nothing. You’re not in the right but I get it. I do not snitch. But doesn’t your soul bruise a little? Don’t your kneecaps cleave when you hit the pavement as you fall from higher moral ground? Doesn’t your conscience click at you about your kid’s dorm using your Netflix password?
In these times, a certain kind of person blurs moral lines. I’m thinking Marjorie Taylor Greene in white fur yelling at President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address, oily George Santos burbling out lies about his colleagues that night.
Why did Alberta Premier Danielle Smith give the prime minister a wet fish handshake and claim it was inadvertent? It was deliberate. It was crass.
What is it like not to have been raised in a shame-based framework? It must be grand not to have crushing guilt hammer at you. What’s it like not apologizing to the chair you just bumped? What’s it like to let the guilt slip like a greasy fried egg down the gullet? What does it feel like to lie?
People are testing the waters.