Netflix’s new ‘Skip Politics’ button is the perfect way to bolster your filter bubble

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Seth Meyers’ new stand-up hour gives viewers the option to fast forward through his jokes about the President

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 5:51 pm

Updated Thursday, 7th November 2019, 5:52 pm
Seth Meyer’s Netflix special Lobby Baby has an optional section of jokes about the President of the United States (Photo: Netflix)

A funny thing happens 39 minutes into Seth Meyers’ new stand-up special on Netflix. Having told a series of jokes about his wedding, his wife and their children, the American comedian and TV host says that he wants to talk about politics.

“But I also know there are people who don’t like jokes about politics,” he adds. “And because this is on Netflix, it presents us with a unique opportunity.” That “opportunity” is to provide viewers with a Skip Politics option in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

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It sounds like a joke, but then up pops the button. If you click it, it fast-forwards the show by around eight minutes to a point where he’s back to talking about his wife, the ups and downs of co-habiting and leaving his pants on the floor.

If you don’t click it, you get around eight minutes of jokes about Donald Trump – nothing that would scare the pigeons, exactly – jokes about the current President being as good for his career as the plague was medieval gravediggers, gags about Canada and so on.

In fact the funniest joke is probably the button itself; Meyers ends his politics section with a radically unexpected statement that he hopes will make people who clicked it curious enough to rewind. Clearly, it is a gimmick and a smart way for Meyers, who made his name as political satirist, to draw attention to his new show.

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There is nevertheless something quite dystopian about the Bandersnatch-like technology involved. We’ve long had the option to fast forward (or switch channels) when we don’t like what we see but Netflix is making it ever easier.

In 2017, it introduced the Skip Intro button allowing time-poor viewers to get straight to the meat of their content without a second’s delay listening to the theme tune or reading the names of the people who actually made it. Last month, it trialled a new feature allowing viewers to watch content at up to 1.5x the normal speed. Neither permit the work to be watched in the way its creators intended, but then they probably never intended for us to watch it with one eye on our phones, either.

The Skip Politics button might be a joke but it wouldn’t be surprising if it took off; the possibilities it offers are endless – skip violence, skip sex, skip that celebrity you can’t stand on Strictly… It also offers another way to disengage, to bolster the walls of our filter bubble even further – to the point, you might think, where it’s almost not worth switching on at all.



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