Netflix Is The New Black

By Jack Newcombe

December 4, 2015 5 min read

Rotten Tomatoes has changed the way that we watch movies.

Founded in 1998, the website aggregates audience and professional reviews, giving each film a score based on an average, from zero to 100. Scores from zero to 59 receive the "rotten" label, whereas anything above 60 is deemed "fresh."

And these numbers matter.

A fresh score can encourage more people to see the film, whereas a rotten score might turn away potential viewers. Before Rotten Tomatoes, patrons went to the movies blindly, hoping that they would be entertained. Now they have access to more information and are able to make better decisions.

Except when it comes to airplanes.

Airline travel can be an exhausting, expensive, degrading experience. The seats are usually small, and the legroom is nonexistent. As a result, while up in the air, we look for reasons to feel better, to be entertained or to be distracted from the trauma we are enduring.

While our palates might be discerning on the ground when sitting in a movie theater, we are much more forgiving when we watch movies up in the air. Our surrounding environment is so bad that even a mildly entertaining film will receive a positive bump in our minds.

Similarly, when exercising, people tend to search for some sort of stimulus that either distracts them from what they're doing or enthuses them to work harder. Also, just like the case with flying, our media consumption tastes differ when we're working out versus when we are not working out. For example, one might love a top 40 pop song blaring at full volume while in a cycling class but might never listen to that same song while cooking dinner on a Tuesday.

Music is a typical first choice. Music is special in that it can elicit emotions quickly and can be perfect for getting you through a difficult workout. You can download your favorite singles into one playlist or listen to an entire album. Genre and artist depend on personal preference. Some people love rap and hip-hop. Others favor electronic dance music, and some crank Led Zeppelin or Guns N' Roses. No choice is a bad choice.

However, listening to the same songs over and over again can get repetitive. While streaming services -- such as Pandora, Spotify and Apple Radio -- have increased the number of songs we can listen to, music, like anything, can get stale. Enter podcasts.

Podcasts have gained popularity in recent years for two reasons: They're free, and the quality is high; for example, President Obama did an interview on comedian Marc Maron's podcast in 2015. Unlike music, which comes in short bursts, podcasts are typically long in format and are great for long runs or any extended cardio.

That said, some people cannot listen to podcasts while they work out. Either they don't like people talking to them and should stick to music or they are looking for something of even higher quality. For those people, we bring you audiobooks.

Audiobooks are even longer than podcasts. Also great for long-distance cardio, audiobooks can be truly distracting. Genre, author, fiction, nonfiction -- it's all personal preference. But getting entrenched in an audiobook while working out can truly take your mind away from any pain you might be enduring. However, listening to audiobooks while exercising is definitely an acquired taste and not for everybody.

Finally, we conclude with another player that revolutionized the way we watch movies: Netflix. As Wi-Fi has become ubiquitous in gyms and homes, people are turning to Netflix as their preferred distraction during workouts. You can binge-watch shows you normally wouldn't watch on the couch. Again, this is in line with the way our tastes change while we're working out. On the other hand, some people save their favorite shows for when they work out. The shows become an incentive for them to work out and a reward at the same time.

There is no watched-this-movie-on-an-airplane discount applied to Rotten Tomatoes scores, and there is no way to know what distraction will be best for a specific workout, so the only way to know for sure is to try different things.

So crank up the music or download the podcast or load the audiobook or fire up the Netflix the next time it's time to work out. And when you're done, you can Netflix and chill.

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