Sometimes it seems as if Netflix has transformed into an archive for forgotten work. One moment you’re watching old episodes of “Desperate Housewives” and the next you’re viewing an avant-garde French modernist film. C’est incroyable!?! With the current overpriced state of movies feeling as a sleuth of remakes, sequels, and prequels, Netflix appears as the knight in shining armor that promises to cater to all your viewing needs. Although convenient and affordable, Netflix still has (in the words of Ricky Ricardo) some splainin to do. One question that I have for this steaming service is what does the switch to Netflix mean for the creative storytellers and artists? A way to answer this question of artistry and storytelling is to examine Netflix’s new documentary about a classic, genre-changing artist–Nina Simone.
Netflix has recently announced that in 2015, a documentary about Nina Simone will be released and available for immediate streaming. The documentary titled “What Happened, Miss Simone?” appears during the same time as the controversial biopic “ Nina”, which stars Zoe Saldana. The film “Nina” does not have the approval of Ms. Simone’s estate, the documentary on the other hand does. “What Happened, Miss Simone?” seeks to incorporate Nina’s life as a social activist and a fundamental pillar in music.
The conflict between the biopic and the documentary begins to demonstrate what Netflix is capable of for artistic expression. The documentary, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” allows for the viewers to experience an artistic form that includes several aspects of Ms. Simone’s life that a film, which is faced with external pressures such as box office ticket sales, would not be able to fully address. Netflix has transformed into the space for experimental or forgotten artistic work that caters to the audience’s desires. Netflix allows the freedom of thought and expression that seems forgotten in our era.
Below are two helpful links. The first is a brief examination of the current state of films. The second further discusses “What Happened, Miss Simone”.