Just the other day, I was hanging out with friends in their double. They have a TV, and a Xbox 360 with Internet capabilities, and more than enough space to sit comfortably (thus is the advantage of an undergraduate living in a graduate dorm). Aside from the numerous hours wasted playing (or in my case being a spectator) Halo, Minecraft, Borderlands and the like, we visit the Netflix and Hulu apps. A lot. Specifically Hulu, because one of my other friends loves Community (obligatory: #sixseasonsandamovie) because it is the best sitcom currently airing and no one will claim otherwise, because they are just wrong (even NBC is because they clearly don’t believe that).
But let’s not stray too far. In 2009, Hulu premiered its Super Bowl XLIII commercial like all the companies that spend those millions of dollars for a few seconds of your attention. Hulu unabashedly told all who was watching that they are “an evil plot to destroy the world” (just look at the picture if you don’t believe me). Hulu was merely designed to speed up the process that “television rots your brain”, and it looks like instead of us all working in solidarity to prevent the mass rotting of our minds, we merely lauded their honestly and let it commence.
I can’t say I blame us.
How many innovations for the “betterment” of mankind are simply just to make life easier? Cars make it easier to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. Microwaves allow us to heat up food faster to eat in our cars. Television is supposed to stimulate us in ways that the radio lacked. Computers were created and all hell broke loose when the Internet was launched. Now, television may not be necessarily in danger of becoming obsolete, but television is slowly, but surely, becoming merged with the Internet. Hulu saw this and decided to take advantage of it, and by goading us the easiest way possible (initially): making it free of charge.
Sure, it isn’t technically free of charge; you have to pay for the Internet connection, you have to certainly pay for a computer or a laptop, or whatever convenient device you use. But who doesn’t want the theoretical power to watch a TV show at any moment of the day while paying as little as possible for it? We are grateful that we can move further beyond relying on VHS cassettes, or having to clear up space on our TiVo/DVR’s. But what about those people who prefer the physical media? Television was never truly inherently physical, but there is a sense of nostalgia behind praying that you set the VCR correctly to catch a show you know you’re going to miss live. Hulu allows us to bypass that; if we miss something live, we can just check Hulu.
That’s not to say Hulu, in all its malevolent glory, doesn’t have its issues. Despite the number of television shows is has in its arsenal, not everything is offered for free — there’s Hulu Plus, which, for a marginal fee (they’d like to tell you that, anyway), you can have access to even more than just the free site. They not only try to rot our brains, but empty our wallets at the same time, for shame!
Hulu also merely provides clips for some shows, and episodes for others. Policies and whatnot. So why pick on Hulu? Why not call out other similar subscription services? Simple: Hulu is the most popular one, it is the service to beat, it is the service that told us their plan and we did nothing about. Also, quite frankly, Netflix kind of sucks.
I guess what I’m trying to say in all my rambling is three years later, and television is seen as something completely different. Is television obsolete now? I can’t say. I still watch television when I can, just as often as I’ll watch Netflix or Hulu with my friends. I don’t believe these services kill television, they make it more accessible. The television set may not be as active as say, ten years ago, or even five, but as I stated, I would agree more with the idea that the medium has merged with other mediums, and for the better.
Or maybe I’m an alien too, and I’m just trying to trick you into using Hulu even more.