The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Netflix DataFucks …

Let me be clear, I really like Netflix.

I like them for the programming they make.

I like them for how they reinvented themselves when they saw their business die with DVD’s.

I like them for putting craft back into content and arguably making this the golden age of telly.

[Yes, I said TV, because some research said Netflix was mostly watched on the old box]

But I digress …

There’s one thing I don’t like about them and that’s how they talk about data creating the show ‘House Of Cards’.

I’m not doubting data played an important role in their thinking, but the way some people talk about it, data was the whole reason the show was made, ignoring the fact that a team of talented and creative actors, directors, camera men and film crew were needed to actually bring it to the screen. But even more than that, House Of Cards had already been made by the BBC years earlier, so it was an ‘update’ rather than a brand new creation.

However the main reason I doubt that narrative is that if data had proved to be so successful, why haven’t they done it again … and if they have, why is there no show that has had the same level of impact?

Alright, there have been a few that have definitely captured cultures attention, but they seem to be more because they’re talking about an event that captured the World’s attention [Fyre Festival] or simply offered a show featuring a Hollywood star at a time where people were desperately looking for content [Sandra Bullock’s, Bird Cage, which came out at Christmas]

OK, I’m being pretty unfair as Netflix is pretty awesome, but I suppose I just get wary of people claiming data made their creativity happen when the reality is [1] it didn’t and [2] if it did, then there is a hell of a lot of content on that network that is a great case for not relying on it entirely.

Data has a very important role to play in almost every industry, but when you claim – and trust – it can do it all without needing the understanding, imagination and craft of talented and creative humans, then you’re about as blind as the people who fail to see Bird Cage’s ending was rushed, contrived and massively underwhelming.

16 Comments so far
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The biggest misconception of data is that it is strategy. It informs but it should never dictate. Only the bad or insecure would claim that. Netflix use data well. But their use of it has been romanticised by people who have an interest in romanticising it.

Comment by Bazza

Yep … and that’s why great data people know what they’re trying to help rather than try to win at all costs.

Comment by Rob

That’s a great way to divide the good and the bad.

Comment by Pete

Well said Robert. The basic rule is if someone claims one thing can do everything, then they are wrong. It works with certain audiences because they want shortcuts. It’s the same premise that allows conmens success. And birdcage was rubbish so for the data community who believe they are god, Netflix might not be the hero they think it is.

Comment by Pete

The problem with the creative industries relationship with data centres in the topics of power and control. In my experience, creatives are open to information that will better inform their creativity, but many data people have no appreciation of how the creative process works. This results in them being unable to provide a clear and consise point of view to the data they provide and the misconception their work is instructional rather than informative.
Those who think creativity is a pot of soup that can contain many ingredients from many different chefs make very bad soup.

Comment by George

To be fair, Netflix aren’t perpetrating this myth that data controls it all … it definitely has a huge influence in how they operate … but they also appreciate – and invest – in quality and craft and talent and people who don’t recognize that are more blind than Sandra Bullock in Birdcage.

Comment by Rob

netflix use data. how else would they fill their fucking platform with porn disguised as a documentary. even if no fucker needs data to know porn always works.

Comment by andy@cynic

Isn’t the big problem that most people presented with data don’t know how to understand, interrogate and criticize it because they’ve never studied it?

Comment by John

fucking hell can we stop with this pretend fucking serious shit. none of you pricks are fooling anyone.

Comment by andy@cynic

Bird Cage was a bigger anti climax than a night out with Billy big talker. If that’s the result of data then they can keep it. Does explain why so many brands and products are crap though.

Comment by DH

Where is Billy? What a waste of an insult.

Comment by DH

Here’s a glimpse at the “data processing” behind the creation of “House of Cards”

“Got some data for you: David Fincher is in the lobby.”
“No shit?! Really?”
“Yeah, here’s another piece of data, he’s with Kevin Spacey.”
“I FUCKING LOVED THE USUAL SUSPECTS!!! How does that guy only have two Oscars? What do they want?”
“And they’re with Robin Penn Wright.”
“The Princess Bride???!!! Seriously. What Do They Want??!!”
“Final data point: you know that devilishly clever BBC series where the old guy kills everyone on his way to the top?”
“Kind Hearts and Coronets?”
“No, more recent.”
“House of Cards?”
“Yeah. That one.”
“Oh yeah. I binged that show on a cocaine hangover back when I was living in the Laurel Canyon place. What do they want?”
“To make a show”
“On Netflix?!? Sure, sure, get them in here. Wait, wait. Do I have any spinach in my teeth?”

Comment by Toby Barlow


Comment by DH

Point well made…without swear words!!?? Rob, are you going soft back home in the motherland?

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

But still as annoying.

Comment by DH

Watching ‘The Dirt’ on Netflix.

It makes Game of Thrones look like Peppa Pig. I cannot give a better endorsement of anything … especially as it’s all true.

Crue might be the most clichéd of 80’s hair metal, but at least they were real rock stars and for bringing their brilliant book to the screen, you can claim whatever the hell you want Netflix.

Comment by Rob

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