Aspirations

by Devanshu Mehta

Netflix used to recommend movies and shows to customers based on how they rated other movies.

Five stars for Truffaut? Why don’t you try a Renoir?

Two stars to American Pie? Clearly you don’t want to watch American Pie 2.

Or do you?

Over time, Netflix discovered that ratings are “aspirational”. Our ratings reflect our best image of ourselves. They don’t reflect how we actually want to spend our time.

We may rate all Satyajit Ray movies five stars, but when we have a tight window of ninety minutes between when the kids went to sleep and when we really need to get to bed, we’re not going to watch Fellini. We’ll watch American Pie 2.

Test cricket is also, I believe, aspirational. If you ask the average person, they will want tests to exist, even if they don’t watch. For those of us that love it, our love for it is something that maintains our self-image. It is part of who we are.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we will stay up tonight to watch New Zealand play Bangladesh. It just means that we will sleep better knowing that we live in a world where New Zealand is playing Bangladesh.

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