Netflix users are allowed to place 500 DVDs in their movie queue. The goal: Fill up the queue and watch all 500 in one year.
My name is Bucky Sinister, and I'm a DVD Binger. In February of 2002, I ended fifteen years of drug and alcohol abuse, declared bankruptcy, and was left with no idea of what to do after 8pm.
I tried to remember what I did before I started drinking. My mind crawled way back to the '80s. What came up were three things: church, my Commodore 64, and movies. I wasn't going back to church unless it was for a recovery meeting in the basement. I had no idea where to find a C64. But there were a lot of great films I had missed, especially in the last three years.
Thanks to Community Thrift, I was able to afford a used TV and VCR. All I had to do was get the movies. I patronized my local video store, but was subjected to such harsh renter's shame (common among fanatical film geeks) that I was forced to find other venues. About this time, DVD players suddenly became very cheap, and I joined the Netflix Generation.
Right away, I was a loyal customer. Netflix never rolled its eyes at me upon searching for a film, nor did it berate me when seeing my selection. In no time at all, I had over a hundred movies in my queue. I never got to watch them all, as I added three in the time it took me to watch two. After a year, I had over two hundred movies in my queue, and it was growing quickly.
One day, Netflix told me I couldn't add to my queue anymore. I had inadvertently discovered that the queue had a limit -- 500 DVDs. I tried to figure out how long it would take to watch them all. I looked in my history folder and discovered that I was watching, on average, twenty movies a month. At that pace, it would take over two years to go through a full queue.
In The Program, we often talk about transference. That's where one negative behavior replaces another, such as an ex-meth user becoming an over eater, or an ex-junky becoming a porn addict. I became obsessed with watching all the movies in my queue.
Could I fill my queue and watch it in one year? While my other friends were making resolutions to quit smoking, cut back on drinking, to go to the gym, to go back to school and finish the degree, to write a book, I had already done all those things. Most of the last three years have been spent on productive behavior. I wanted to have a resolution that would involve entertainment. I resolved to fill up and watch all five hundred movies currently in my queue in one year. I convinced the folks at KQED to lend their good name to the deal and thus the Q-500 Experiment was born.
How will the Q-500 Experiment work?
I could easily fill up the queue with films that I know are good, the kind of films that I rewatch every year, but this lacks the spirit of adventure. I'm filling my queue with movies that I haven't seen, that I've only seen on TV, or that I haven't seen in over 10 years.
As far as TV shows are concerned, one DVD counts as one DVD. I'm only putting in one season of each show. Maybe next year I'll try to watch all the CSIs and Law and Orders that are available.
If a film comes out on DVD that I absolutely have to see, I will beg and plead with the blog readers to let me swap it out for another one in the queue. More about this in How to Play Along.
After watching each film, I will post on the Q-500 Experiment site. These will all be spoiler-free reviews, with random thoughts, common tropes, actors' performances in various films, how these films are communicating various themes or cultural values. It will range from Ebert-serious to Film Nerd-snarky, depending on the film or my mood that day.
Once a week, I will post a roundup of the films I've watched, with a pick of the week, a pan of the week, and a report of how this behavior has affected me mentally, emotionally, and socially. Wish me luck.