Good news for adults who enjoy being treated like children: Netflix has invented a single button, ominously named “ The Switch ”, that will, if you choose to build your own, dim your lights, put your phone into “do not disturb” mode, order a takeaway and set you up for a night of viewing. The bad news: the button sounds pretty complicated – making one involves programming a microcontroller, figuring out your device’s infrared patterns and soldering together the electronics.
Even so, the internet has playfully dubbed it the “Netflix and chill” button, and its arrival represents the next stage in the life of a phrase that began as simply an innocent way of saying, “I’ve had a hard day and all I want to do this evening is put on Netflix, curl up into the foetal position and consume four straight hours of visual entertainment”, but has become an innuendo (and a meme) for hooking up.
In the innocent days of 2009, “Netflix and chill” really did mean “chilling out and watching Netflix”. It was a solo activity. There you were, sitting on your sofa, the latest season of whatever-it-is buzzing away in front of you, the “chill” part of the equation very much not a euphemism for anything at all.
The phrase has since become a 21st-century version of “Do you want to come up for some coffee?” In April, it was added to Urban Dictionary with the definition: “Code for two people going to each others houses and fucking or doing other sexual related acts.”
In 2014, when the euphemistic nature of the phrase was being established, gender lines began to form. Guys tweeted pictures of smug faces alongside captions such as, “When she says Netflix and chill”, while girls tweeted pictures of shocked, dismayed faces with captions such as, “When you find out what Netflix and chill means”.
This July, Netflix itself got in on the meme , posting a gif from the film Clueless, in which Alicia Silverstone’s character attempts to seduce a school friend while watching telly, only to tumble backwards off the bed, with the caption: “Netflix and chill? No, really”.
From there, Nicki Minaj caught on , posting a take on the meme to Instagram (503,000 likes), and the “and chill” half began being used in anything from “Lord of the Rings and chill” to “Ramen and chill”. The button, however, may be the death knell of the meme, marking the full corporate appropriation of the phrase. If that doesn’t do it, though, surely this will: across America, parents have started to figure out what it means .
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