Why don't I like films anymore
Why do I actually pay money every month to streaming services that allow me to watch hundreds of series and films? Because when I sit down on my sofa after work with the laptop, it works like this: I open Netflix. I scroll through the homepage with the new films and series. I watch two or three trailers. I decide on a film, let it start ... and after five minutes I don't feel like it anymore. I click back to the start page - and choose the series again FriendsI've seen fifteen or twenty times. Yes, all 236 episodes.
I can have a say in most of the episodes, I know every joke. Of course, I also know that Rachel and Ross end up getting together because they belong together like two Hummers forever - which is not the case with Lobsters, unlike Rachel and Ross, by the way - that Joey will screw up his performance as Al Pacino's butt double and that baby Emma laughs when you sing him an educationally questionable rap song. Still, I'd rather watch the series one more time than embark on something new. I could even do without Netflix because I have the series on DVD and mostly watch it that way.
Because I pay money to stream every month, sometimes I force myself to use it and then I don't Friends to play - and often switch to other films and series that I have already seen. New girl, I feel pretty with Amy Schumer and, one of my big weaknesses after work, dance films like Save the last dance.
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When I start a new series, I cannot cheer for the protagonists to the same extent - because I have to make friends with them first
In America there is finally a name for the evening routine on my sofa: "Comfort Binge". This is how the author Alexis Nedd described the series on the Mashable news site that you watch again and again when you are a little exhausted or lazy. The series should not entertain or surprise us at this moment, but rather sprinkle us with familiar voices and actions. "Comfort Binge is about getting the greatest possible pleasure with minimal effort," writes Nedd.
What I look at over and over again is just as familiar to me as my living room furnishings. I know how the fabric on my sofa feels against my skin, how warm the blanket I snuggle under is and what the wine tastes like (I always buy the same types of wine). It's no wonder it comforts me when something familiar is playing on my screen. Something that doesn't challenge me and where I can answer WhatsApp messages with my mobile phone and scroll through pictures on Instagram.
If I choose something new, I fear that I might spoil my evening because the film or series doesn't match the half-attention and the drowsy mood. Although the algorithm of the streaming services really tries hard to advertise new formats to me. Netflix, for example, recommends series and films that should suit my taste exactly. I suspect that the algorithm doesn't do that badly. But I don't feel like making a decision most evenings.
This unwillingness to make decisions is a phenomenon that the US psychologist Barry Schwartz explains in a TED lecture as the "paradox of choices": The better the options people have to choose between, the more difficult it is for them to make a decision at all . Schwartz explains it using the example of jeans: Even if he finds well-fitting pants in the store, he suspects that among all those jeans there would probably have been better-fitting ones somewhere.
I even find it difficult to trust series tips from my circle of friends. I believe that recommending things that are socially desirable rather than those that make you really happy. I like fun, feel-good entertainment in the evenings. I'm not proud of it, of course I would think it would be better if I were also interested in socially relevant dramas about the abyss of banking on a Tuesday at 7 p.m. But unfortunately my head doesn't tick that way when I'm eating the mixed vegetable scraps from the previous day out of a bowl.
When i do this Friends turn on, the title is right for me: I almost feel like I'm hanging out with friends. I believe that the suction effect of the Comfort Binge is largely related to the feeling of seeing people again, to whom one is attached. As early as 1957, the US sociologists Horton and Strauss described this relationship between TV viewer and actor as a parasocial relationship that develops over time and "does not differ in its essence from the characteristics of normal social life." And Horton and Strauss knew the amiable characters of Friends not even.
When I start a new series, I can't cheer the protagonists to the same extent - simply because I have to make friends with them first. I would have to give them a chance to get involved with them. But it's like real life friendships for me. I often find new people a bit dubious at first. Until I love them so much that I just want to spend time with them. If, yes, if I let it get that far.
Don't the series and films lose their meaning with the Comfort Binge? Aren't jokes designed to surprise me with their punchline, and doesn't tension come from the fact that I don't know the end of the story? Yes and no. The US author Steven Johnson describes in the book New intelligencethat entertainment series have become so complicated that they reward you for watching them several times because only then can you understand all the innuendos and appreciate the elegance of the various linked storylines.
I really get all of the inside jokes of now Friends - whereas the narrative density of an unknown plot would overwhelm me when I am tired after work. If I have the definitely very great series game of Thrones would start, I never know if someone is going to be beheaded while I take a quick look at my cell phone. I am punished either by not noticing the fate of a character, or by starting to like a character and the next moment he dies.
So I prefer to watch Ross surprise his son Ben in an armadillo costume because all Santa suits were on loan two days before Christmas Eve and he still wanted to please him.
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