Anja Snellman


Everett Collection/Lehtikuva


Play It Again, Sam

Recently, on a tram in Helsinki, I overheard four young women talking about audiobooks. They were wearing earphones. I was delighted to see that these representatives of a younger generation still had a connection to literature, albeit by listening on a mobile device.

They recommended to each other novels they had last listened to. Then they started to talk about slowness.

Apparently, reading is not an option. Too slow. But how to deal with audiobook narrators who speak so unbearably and infuriatingly slowly that you must speed up the book?

One of the young women stated that she never really listens to anything at normal speed any longer. Too boring. And the people on podcasts who stop and think—and say nothing for seconds! Oh. My. God.

Listening to them, I learned a new word: senior speed. It is the speed at which the painfully slow audiobooks—or podcasts—are delivered.

I THOUGHT OF THOSE YOUNG WOMEN when I read an article about a new Netflix feature: an option to speed up the normal playback rate. It enables viewers to watch shows and movies at 1.25 and 1.5 speeds.

Active consumers are so busy nowadays that they have time only for straightforward story-driven content. Every second of non-action is a second of life wasted.

A young man interviewed for the article said that all scenes where the camera pans over the scenery should be cut—as well as scenes where someone just reflects and says nothing. The opening and closing credits are also useless.

AS IS OFTEN THE CASE, copyright did not seem to occur to anyone. What will the creators of shows and movies think about this type of “editing”?

When a creator of an original series questioned this new feature on Twitter, they were told that the productions are not works of art. They are products that can and must be improved to satisfy the audience.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN to classic movies offered on streaming services?

Casablanca, adjusted to the hectic pace of our lives? Play it again, Sam, at 1.5 speed. And what about those great directors Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky, with their deep dives into the unconscious. What is taking you so long?

Published with permission from Seura magazine

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