House of Cards' Netflix Bow is Just Another Way for Pop Culture to Pretend it Unnerves Us

It's been nice to watch TV--fresh off House of Cards's Netflix premier--deal with the same questions people have been addressing about music since Napster or iTunes or Spotify, depending on which iteration of the issue you remember best. Specifically: Now that Netflix can create programming based on the programming we already like, are we short-circuiting some crucial part of the artistic process? Are we just being told what we want to hear?

Broadly speaking, I don't think there's a very important difference between Netflix's viewer data telling it what we want to hear and Michael Bay's box-office returns; it's easy to overrate that last bit of precision in any model, the difference between "Netflix users like Kevin Spacey" and "Netflix users like Kevin Spacey types." What's really disheartening about House of Cards is something pop music has dealt with for decades: Not that we're being told what we want to hear, but that it lets us act like we're being told something we don't want to hear.

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Dan Moore