When you want to get through all 250 90-minute episodes of a podcast that started two months ago, you'll have the option to speed up the playback rate. That way, you can binge the series at, say, 1.5 speed, or even 2.5 if you're an auditory savant who thinks plugging in earbuds is your version of jacking into the Matrix to master kung fu in three seconds. And if you're willing to listen to some public radio dorks gab for half the normal length of an episode, sounding like they've all done speedballs before talking about the "fascinating" history of stop signs in Lithuania or whatever, then you are the exact person Netflix is thinking of. They are currently testing out adjustable playback rates for TV shows.
The problem with all this is obviously is the visual element. It's odd how quickly your ears can adjust to sped-up audio. Within a few minutes, the insane pace of the conversation sounds natural, and even reverting back to normal speeds can seem off, as if everyone's talking while being slowly rendered unconscious by a gas leak. That's probably because fast-talking is a fairly common thing, and we've been trained to keep up through shows like The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, and such, where they're trying to jam scripts as thick as Russian novels into 42 minutes. Sped-up video is a whole different beast.
We have no shared cultural frame of reference that has acclimated us to sped-up video footage, other than a few fast-forwarded clips of Benny Hill chasing scantily clad women through a park set to "Yakety Sax." It's a little unnerving to think that we're on the cusp of a common cultural moment in which it's perfectly normal to sit down for a movie and watch actors move as if they're one with the Speed Force.
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