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Consumerism or joy? - the power of American innovations such as Netflix

For my final assignment, I decided to discuss the development and power of American innovations, precisely their most popular streaming service called Netflix. Apart from my personal interest in movies, what inspired me to choose this topic is the way in which a good show can connect even strangers. I had the opportunity to see this connection happen during the TAPP project with our American peers. Namely, during a video conference, someone mentioned a popular series aired on Netflix and the series turned out to be an amazing conversation starter, prompted students to exchange social media accounts and continue communicating even after the project has ended. Being technologically cultured holds the power to spread communication, however, some refuse to take part in consumerism when it comes to popular technological inventions such as Netflix.

Even if one is not subscribed, or does not live in America, it is guaranteed that they have heard of Netflix, as it is heavily advertised everywhere- in news, on social media, on TV. Marketing rules the world nowadays, and can even determine the future of many people, such as actors who achieved worldwide fame upon acting in a popular blockbuster. If we were to take a look at Sam Altman’s article ‘‘How to be successful‘‘( https://blog.samaltman.com/how-to-be-successful), we could see that Netflix represents an embodiment of certain points Altman made. For example, Altman explains how building a network, being hard to compete, and being good at selling, in other words being able to spread consumerism, can lead to success. And indeed, Netflix has accomplished all three points. Consumerism is also discussed in an excerpt from Neil Campbell’s and Kean Alasdair’s article ‘‘American media imperialism‘‘. Through the example of a popular show Dallas, they explained how America was labeled as imperialistic and dictatorial and ‘assumed to represent the worst facets of homogenized American culture’. However, a study conducted by Ien Ang showed that the audiences were receptive to the show and aware that they were taking part in consumerism and mass culture. It seems as though people do not mind participating in consumerism if it brings them joy. However, to some, it is neither the issue of consumerism nor advertising that represent a problem when it comes to the influence powerful innovations such as Netflix have on our world, rather the question of morality. For instance, many actors who became successful after appearing in a popular Netflix movie ended up in a circle of never-ending desire for more money, recognition, or power. Greed is an age-old concept, mentioned even in Russell Conwell’s inspirational lecture ‘Acres of Diamonds. The way in which inventions like Netflix can cause people to become greedy can be seen through Ali Hafed’s metaphorical search for diamonds. Lessons learned from Conwell are that all of us do have many opportunities for achieving success and wealth, but being content with what we have achieved and what belongs to us is better than chasing something we might never get.

To conclude, Netflix and similar American innovations, their quick development, and worldwide presence are often criticized and labeled as ‘consumeristic’, and while critics will always exist, what cannot be denied is the fact that such inventions have the power to connect people, reward the talented, and make large masses happy.

-A.A.

References:
1. Altman, S. (2019) How to be successful – https://blog.samaltman.com/how-to-be-successful
2. Campbell, N. and Alasdair, K. American Cultural Studies: An introduction to American culture. New York: Routledge. 272-276. AMERICAN MEDIA IMPERIALISM
3. Conwell, R. (1890) Acres of Diamonds – https://www.gutenberg.org/files/368/368-h/368-h.htm

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