You’ll find no shortage of season Hollywood types equipped with their torches and pitchforks, all too prepared to blame Netflix for the woes of the film industry. It’s unfair, really: Streaming has provided a viable platform for films that would likely have a harder time getting greenlit by major studios. The public’s declining interest in heading to their local theaters cannot be placed squarely on the shoulders of the platforms that are simply providing more interesting options, but hey, that’s a conversation to revisit for the hundredth time some other day.
The real victims of streaming culture may actually be the unsung heroes of cable: the randomly syndicated throwback film. In a recent essay for Uproxx titled “Woe To ‘Tango And Cash’: Mourning The Impending Death Of The Communal Random Movie On Cable,” Senior Entertainment Writer Mike Ryan recounted stumbling upon Tango And Cash after a night of failed plans. Per Ryan, it was more than a moment of on-the-fly entertainment; it was also exposure to a classic film that he likely wouldn’t have taken the initiative to see on his own:
“Now, I bring this all up because there’s no way I’d ever decide to just watch Tango & Cash, but now I, and many other people, have seen Tango & Cash in the last week because it happened to be on cable. Say what you want about Tango & Cash (and, honestly, there’s a lot to say; I could probably write 2000 words about Tango & Cash), but it’s a movie that’s had a pretty long run because of its propensity for popping up on cable. But now, as streaming services are distributing and owning their own movies, this era will be coming to an end because those movies won’t have significant cable runs or get special anniversary Blu-ray releases because they only exist on that specific platform.”
It’s true that those who are perfectly fine with turning to their go-to Amazon Prime selection might miss out on the sheer joy of flipping through the channels and catching Selena at the precisely perfect moment, or finally saying “fuck it” and giving Twilight a shot before Archer starts. As Ryan notes, they’re also missing out on the community-building moments that those random cable airings lend themselves to, which could be a greater loss than the movies themselves. Hey, at least we can rely on wildly popular binge-worthy shows and objectively nightmarish movie trailers to kind of pick up the slack, right?
Check out the full essay here, then maybe peruse your channels for a bit.