Netflix Aspect Ratio Changes Spark An Online Petition


Sit down, Netflix. We need to talk.

Over the past few years, Netflix has gone from everyone’s favorite online video and DVD service to everyone’s favorite punching bag. And guess what? They have no one to blame but themselves. From the quickly killed idea of splitting their DVD and streaming services into two separate entities (remember Quikster, everyone?!), losing Starz and diminishing service quality, Netflix really has shot themselves in the foot again and again. Now it’s coming out that the company has streamed the wrong version of some films; versions that have been cut, cropped or pan-scanned into oblivion.

Netflix defended itself on the accusations, claiming that the problem lay with the studios/distributors, who give them the wrong version of the film. But it has not stopped a petition from popping up on, demanding that Netflix place a title card before every modified film that informs the viewer that it has been modified. You know, like those old ‘this film has been modified from its original version’ titles on VHS and television? Remember that? Anyone?

While everything has a petition on these days, this is one that’s kind of important in terms of our cinematic experience. Streaming has become more popular, and DVDs and Blu-Rays look like they will eventually go the way of VHS and Laser Disc. With the streaming experience likely to become the main way we experience films, it’s important that quality not go out the window too. They stopped doing pan-scan for a reason: it diminishes the picture quality, and often means that you’re only seeing a portion of the frame. In a time of wide-screen TVs and computers, there’s no reason why Netflix can’t make certain that they’re using the correct version. If they can’t use the correct version, maybe they should let us know that they’re not. I’d like to be certain that the first time I see Lawrence of Arabia, I’m seeing all of Lawrence of Arabia.

What do you think about the Netflix aspect ratio issue? Or do you even care? Let us know in the comments.