It bothers me that BlockBuster Video is closing. There are empty carcasses of the video rental store all over the city. It started with one, and gradually over the past year, they all tumbled.
I’m vaguely aware that some part of me should be excited by the idea that a corporation has been taken down, that research and development has led to a more efficient way of doing business, and that media access in general is becoming more of a right, as opposed to a service. And of course late fees… good riddance right?
But really, I’m just bummed. I’m bummed that things are changing. That video killed the radio star; that advertisements and the top twenty killed the radio scene; and that internet streaming is killing the movie rental.
I recently had to leave a blow-out sale at a BlockBuster in our neighbourhood.
I turned to Sloop John B, and I said, think about it, we’ll be telling our kids that we actually used to go to a store,
To rent a movie.
And they trusted you to bring it back.
And if you didn’t bring it back on time, they charged you money.
You would actually have to pay a fine, for your disrespect of time-lines.
And you needed a membership card that you carried around with you, and that card was your ticket to your Friday night of entertainment. Without it, you were screwed.
Imagine that absurdity.
When I was younger I grew up in a town which was small enough that we didn’t even have a Blockbuster. Gasp.
Instead we went to the corner store which was generally well stocked with movies that had come out with in at least the past 10 years. You could get milk, cigarettes, gum, lotto tickets… the whole gamut. You would not however, get a “new release.” In those days, if you wanted to see something “newly released” you had to physically go to the Movie Theater to watch the movie.
(Lord I might as well just add that I walked 3 kilometers in the snow up-hill, both ways.)
IF it was a really special night we would go to “The Bear’s Den.” Dum dum dum.
The Bear’s Den was not as it sounds ( the place of children’s nightmares) , it was the local video store in town. A guy who was nicknamed Bear (probably because of the massive beard and gruff voice) gave personal advice on which was a good movie to rent. That was so long ago now I can’t even picture where in my small town of 3 traffic lights the store was located. I just remember Bear the store owner, and also being excited that we were allowed to pick out our own choice. In those days I refused any option that was “people acting” and I specifically limited myself to the cartoon genre.
I had forgotten all about Bear…… all those piles of VHS movies from private video stores across the continent must still be somewhere… they don’t disintegrate. They probably occupy countless numbers of cardboard boxes, people’s basements, Salvation Army Thrift Stores and landfills. And the people like Bear…. they’ve disappeared too, because before Blockbuster fell, so too did the small video store owner. (In fact I think he’s still around… driving Bear’s Cab’s if I’m not mistaken.)
Sloop John B gave me an answer to my Blockbuster breakdown:
“This just means you are getting older… welcome to our parent’s experience.”
To which my inner sound track replied:
“Chchchchanges. Turn and face the strange.”
Oh god. Is it going to be like THAT already?!