By Catherine Fisher
Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, leaves his office early Friday afternoon and heads home with a spring in his step. His website has given people across America the luxury of getting movies dropped off right in their mail box, single handedly causing the collapse of local video stores across the country. But today, Hasting has something else to celebrate; he now has rights to Star Trek, and he’s putting all the episodes into the online instant watch section.
In Emmet, Michigan, Larry and Denise Reynolds watch as their son, Benjamin “Sisko” sits glued to his computer screen in a Spock bathrobe, quoting along to an episode on the screen. His parents got Benjamin Netflix for Christmas to support his interest in TV and film, though they are now beginning to question if the subscription is becoming a device to further detach the 27-year-old from reality.
“He hasn’t left the room in days,” Denise said, lamenting. “Not since Netflix has had that contract with CBS.”
The two-year deal between the popular movie site and TV station allowed for cult classics such as Star Trek to become available on the website’s popular Instant feature, allowing all episodes to be viewed at subscribers’ convenience. Supporters claim it has opened up a new haven for Trekkies around the world, and at the affordable rate of under eight bucks a month, people like Benjamin can pretend their part of the Enterprise while living off of their parents’ allowance.
The Reynolds have been trying to get their son out of the house for a little over three years now as they’ve attempted to slowly wean him off of the series.
“We sold the DVD player, and only have basic cable. None of that Sci Fi crap,” Larry said.
“The only reason we got him a computer in the first place was so maybe he could meet a nice girl, perhaps on one of those online forums or something,” Denise said.
She had bookmarked sites like Match.com for her son, but Benjamin has never scrolled past Kli.org (the Klingon Language Institute).
We had a chance to talk to Benjamin, who is known around town as ‘that Trekkie.’
“I prefer the term Trekker,” he said. “A Trekkie would sell his own soul for the Phaser Rifle as seen in ‘Shakaar.’ A Trekker would stay up for three days, monitoring the auction.”
Before the Netflix-CBS contract, Denise and Larry report that Benjamin had been making real progress. He stopped communicating in the “warrior’s tongue” whenever his parents took him out to dinner and even got himself a job at Bed, Bath and Beyond, though he’s recently been reprimanded on more than one occasion for sneaking into the Best Buy next door and viewing an episode or two during his shift. The merger has opened a new door for Trekkies, who now only need Netflix to gain unlimited access to all their favorite episodes.
Denise stated she felt things were really getting out of control when she stopped by the store for new bath towels and found their neighbor subbing Benjamin’s statement. When asked, neighbor Jesse Hall said, “he promised me his Comic-Con ticket if I came in.” The Reynolds’ booked Benjamin a flight to the convention every year as a means to make him be social, even if it is just ‘with his own kind’. This year however there is rumor that the convention may be streaming via a webcam.
“I just don’t see a reason to leave when all I need is right here,” Benjamin said through Skype, showing us around his room, full of memorabilia and a banner that reads ‘live long and prosper.’ “I probably could die happy and never go ten feet from my computer.”
From the other room, we thought we could hear Denise Reynolds’ heart breaking.
Only time will tell how the addition to Netflix will affect the cult’s overall culture across the nation, but it is clear that is only sending Benjamin “Sisko” Reynolds farther into a fantasy world.
Catherine Fisher is a sophomore screenwriting major who is attempting to learn Klingon through KLI and her Netflix account. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.