Hi there. I have to get something of my chest. Like many people of my generation I enjoy the variety and convenience of online streaming. Be it Netflix, Amazon, iTunes or Google Play. Having a massive collection of instantly streamable content at your fingertips at all times is lightyears beyond television, pay-tv or the cinema. I can just kick back relax and then decide what I want to watch. Maybe even take my digital version in any form-factor I choose.
However there is one thing that has always annoyed me to no end. Something especially prevalent in my country and that is forced localization.
I love watching stuff in its original form. I believe that while half of acting is visual the other half is in language. Annunciation, Tone, Dialect and the fact that the person speaking is actually in the scene in front of the camera.
I also support dubbing – something Germany does to every movie and tv-show there is – I don't personally enjoy dubbing in my movies, I can read subtitles fine – thank you very much, but in general the idea of opening up a piece of art beyond its language barrier is admirable and has a positive effect.
But in this digital age this creates a problem that is incredibly annoying and that has ruined many a movie night for me. That is the problem of versions. Out of all the streaming platforms I named in the beginning of this column only Netflix allows me to set a default language and provides the original version to all its properties. With all the rest you either have to hope for the best or you have to find the tiny fine-print that will tell you what language versions are available. Not only that but sometimes there isn't even an original version. Non of this would be a problem if I would just be allowed to use the english version of the site which will have the original versions of everything but most of these are incredibly stubborn in that they will keep returning you to the page coupled with your geographical location. I understand that this is a legal question, if I live in Germany I should also pay tax on media bought in Germany but this does not excuse the fact that since I am in Germany I will be forced to watch the German Versions only or to severely restrict the amount of original programming I have access to. I mean its not like its about the serverspace. Amazon is one of the biggest providers of servers around the world, yet they don't manage to put the original audio for a film on their server for Amazon Video DE? What is that about.
I understand that my preference for watching the movie that the people involved in its production actually made is a strange one in Germany but I can't believe that I am the only person that feels like this. Most DVDs have multiple sets of audio with your standard compression a movies audio file comes to about 250mb that makes 1gig with the inclusion of 4 entire languages, 500mb with just the original and the German. Even worse is the lack of any subtitle other than German.
This is a multinational country, there are not just German speakers living in the country, so you are going to essentially bar them from your service, WHY? Because there is no space, you know thats not true. Because there is no demand? Well I am here demanding away. Seriously I can't even come up with more. I know its not a legal question, you already own the rights to sell the property in your way, is it considered a second property to include the original version. If I buy a DVD its not, and you are quite beyond VHS, so if that is it that is Idiotic but I don't believe it is.
I will send a copy of this as an email to all the services that are guilty of this in order to find out the reasoning behind such asinine decisions. But I really had to just get this of my chest and I don't believe my ranting will change the situation. Nor do I believe that this in anyway compares to the real problems in the world right now but there you go, this is my website and I can talk about what I want. I promise the next thing I write will not be about consumer service.