Cine-meh: Small-screen Blues

TV is not really TV anymore. It’s more like a video jukebox fed by the internet. It’s also one of the few remaining platforms on the internet that we can talk back to and only annoy the person next to us. Anything else shared online could get us digitally dogpiled, so do what my dad did and yell at the TV. It can’t hear us, but it knows we’re watching.

And it knows our tastes better than we do. Not the refined cineaste selections we purport to like in polite company, but the real, binge-worthy, sleazy shit we actually like.

For example, someone might ask me, “Hey, how did you learn Swedish?” and I might admit, “From bingeing months of Nordic Noir.” Give me a laconic, dead-eyed cop and a frozen corpse thawing in the midnight sun, and I’m happy. Or at least unhappy in that existentially affirming Swedish way. Sval!

But now my wife can’t turn on Netflix without being greeted by dead Swedes. Basically, every suggested show is a bloody snow cone of blond on blond murder.

I tried to bring down the body count by queuing up one of her childhood favorites, the three-hour Spaghetti Western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, or, as she referred to it growing up, “the babysitter.” As a generation weaned on the boob tube, films like this are why we have such great taste in cowboy movies—not to mention an affinity for Boba Fett, who’s just The Man With No Name in space.

Speaking of names, I had no idea Clint Eastwood was called “Blondie” and his adversary, Lee Van Cleef, was “Angel Eyes”—they sound like dancers in a cartoon nightclub.

Of course, all this royally skewed the suggested films in my account. The algorithm is remixing my recent viewing into some kind of Nordic-cowboy hybrid. The genre departs from the Spaghetti Western and arrives at the Swedish Meatball.

We open on a windblown fjord. A man in a serape astride a reindeer spits into the virgin snow. Another man, “Snow Bunny,” cowers at the reindeer’s hooves.

“You see, in this world, there’s two kinds of people, my friend,” the reindeer man gruffs between puffs on a cigarillo. “Those with their own Netflix password, and those who use someone else’s …”

Cue Morricone: “Wah, WAH, wah.”

Originally published in the North Bay Bohemian.

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