Culture Crash 21-04

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Netflix recently unveiled its plan to release a new movie every week for all of 2021 onto the streaming platform, and the company’s slate is headlined by Don’t Look Up, which is the next film from Adam McKay that is set to star Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and a slew of other famous names including Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep and more.

While that title – from the man behind The Big Short, Step Brothers, Succession and more – is certainly exciting, but splashy announcements like Netflix’s movie-per-week announcement or Disney unveiling its mammoth list of upcoming projects sometimes seem to miss the point, which is that most of us would rather see high quality than high quantity.

Too often, I find myself turning on a Netflix original movie or a new Disney product and feel a sense of watered-down, rushed-to-the-platform mediocrity permeating through it. Netflix and Disney both seem to have a few titles a year that quote-unquote “really” matter, and then a bunch of filler. Netflix’s 2020 saw the streamer release big-ticket items like Aaron Sorkin’s Trial of the Chicago Seven and David Fincher’s Mank, but it also saw the company release the Jamie Foxx vehicle Project Power, the universally-panned film The Last Thing He Wanted and other underwhelming titles.

I realize that in the streaming era, a catalogue is at a premium and splashy announcements can keep your company from going the way of Quibi, but I do wish companies like Netflix and Disney would spend more time propping up their genuinely exciting titles – like Don’t Look Up or Marvel’s WandaVision TV show – and less time promoting how much is coming. The problem with the streaming era has never been a lack of things to watch, it has always been a desperate search for what’s worth the watch. I wish these companies would have the same priority.

I’m Evan Rook.