Many people watch shows with their phones in hand (Shutterstock)
Many people watch shows with their phones in hand (Shutterstock)

HT Brunch Sunday Debate: Do you pause to Google search when binge-watching?

Two viewers argue for and against real-time “looking up” historical facts and references while watching a movie or series
By Kajol Srinivasan, Kaustubh Belur
PUBLISHED ON MAR 27, 2021 09:18 PM IST

“I watch movies with small breaks to check facts”

By Kajol Srinivasan

The first time Kajol paused and Googled something, it was a Seinfeld episode about The Soup Nazi to Google if Ali “Al” Yeganeh, the character’s inspiration was real.
The first time Kajol paused and Googled something, it was a Seinfeld episode about The Soup Nazi to Google if Ali “Al” Yeganeh, the character’s inspiration was real.

I’m a binge watcher who watches movies with small breaks to check facts. I like it when a series stays true to a historical period or has nuggets of information that surprise you.

Did you know that in Gladiator (2000) they removed the shots that had gladiators endorsing products in the arena even though it’s factually correct? I get annoyed when fantasy series have spandex or leather-clad characters travelling in what seems to be Medieval times, sporting a London accent.

The first time I paused and Googled something, it was a Seinfeld episode about The Soup Nazi to Google if Ali “Al” Yeganeh, the character’s inspiration was real.

While watching Bridgerton (2020), I thought the mixed race cast was a wonderful casting decision. Then Lady Danbury tells the Duke about “How the love between the King and the Queen changed things so much for us” and I realized they were pointing to the fact that Queen Charlotte may have been the first Black British royal.

As a comedian, I found Bhaag Beanie Bhaag (2020) very far removed from the reality of the Indian comedy scene. But portraying female comedians as women doling out unfunny gyaan on stage was the unkindest of all.

Kajol Srinivasan is a stand-up comedian in her 30s known for her relatable, on-point tweets.

“If you pause to find facts, you may stumble upon a spoiler…”

By Kaustubh Belur

Kaustubh says that today, you can get detailed research on clothing, an actor or character’s lifestyle, reviews, maps, dialect - at your fingertips
Kaustubh says that today, you can get detailed research on clothing, an actor or character’s lifestyle, reviews, maps, dialect - at your fingertips

The first time I researched a movie after watching it was The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). There was no internet and I looked up books and the encyclopaedia. Today, you can get detailed research on clothing, an actor or character’s lifestyle, reviews, maps, dialect - at your fingertips.

I won’t pause something to Google things right away as then you’re taking away from the movie or show. There’s the possibility of coming across a spoiler. That takes away from the whole experience and you aren’t appreciating the art. If you’re watching the first three Star Wars movies and stop to Google Luke Skywalker, the first thing that pops up is that Darth Vader is his father. It’s the journey you are on as a viewer, with emotional ups and downs that shouldn’t be interrupted.

Films and shows based on literature though, are different. Reading the first book after watching the first Game of Thrones (2011) episode helped me follow the series better.

I don’t judge content based on research even if it’s removed from facts. I’ll watch it. Like I did The Crown (2016), which was dramatised but showed how flawed and human even members of the royal family are, making it relatable.

Kaustubh Belur, 33, is a filmmaker and production consultant, who is a Harry Potter fan fiction nut!

From HT Brunch, March 28, 2021

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