BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO IS DEAD
And it’s a real god damn shame. So many of the things that were so good about our childhood are gone. Watching GET SMART episodes on Nic-at-Night.
Browsing the seemingly endless isles of the most magical place in the world (TOYS-R-US) for that perfect item…
Teeth-grinding videogame highs brought on by chugging a six-pack of SURGE and eating a 2 pound bag of Skittles…
So gone it hurts.
But one nostalgia-ridden treasure seems to rise above them all. You remember it’s blue and yellow logo. The taste of candy you’d get in your mouth just picturing it. And the feeling of anticipation that no other retail (rental) store could provide (especially not some paper lending poser like the library.) There just was nothing like BLOCKBUSTER.
And now it’s gone.
But I ask myself: What was it that made it so good? With Netflix at our fingertips, we can browse from a digital selection of films and TV shows, delivered to us not only in or homes, but carefully curated by an algorithm based on our previous viewing selections (and let’s be honest, by the conversations that the app eavesdrops on while we browse #robotsarelistening). We have iTunes and Amazon Prime, and whatever the hell Crackle is. But it’s not the same.
In Blockbuster, there were the isles of shelves with too many copies of A FISH CALLED WANDA, and over-used copies of WAYNE’S WORLD. But in the back… oh in the back against the wall, and wrapping around the entire half circumference of the store, were all the new releases. Shiny and new. Not bound by the labels of genre to be assigned at a later date.
HERE was a towering parade of alphabetically shelved films that had just, JUST been in theaters (3 months ago) that your parents DIDN’T take you to see (the bastards.) Some people walked that wall in order, from left to right. I myself (and probably most jews as well without meaning to) would walk it from right to left. Z to A if you will, hunting for that just right film.
Sometimes you dipped into the isles for a specific item (only to be later told that someone had rented it, and it would be back on Tuesday), but you came for the back wall. You know you did.
But there was something else too. A human element that no Netflix queue or Amazon wish-list could ever hope to rival. There were people to belittle, hassle, and be shitty to.
The employees had all the power. They knew what movies were there, what had been rented, and what was coming soon. They had their little computer to tell them just how much money you owed in late fees, and how long you’d have to wait before that one film you hadn’t seen yet would be back on the shelf. They’d ask for your membership card (like it was a fucking passport to get into the United States on a flight from Afghanistan) and then they’d take your rented movies and hold them on the other side of the metal detector for you to go and FETCH after you’d paid. They relished every minute of their power trip. And you could almost respect them.
But at the end of the day… They worked at fucking Blockbuster. As a customer, you could be as rude as you wanted to them. At the end of the day, if they had it in stock, the had to rent you that tape. They had to hand you that video, and they had to put up with every single time you rented a movie, watched it and didn’t rewind it. Nobody every got laid in a Blockbuster uniform, and they had to stand there on their raised platform and watch night after night, couples come in, flirt, snuggle, and pick out a movie to go home and watch right before they fucked on the couch DECADES before Netflix and Chill was even a thing. Your Roku doesn’t begrudge you pausing the movie to make out, but these poor saps had to sit there and essentially bless every single foreplay cassette they rented out… knowing in their heart that they were going home to jerk off alone.
And that’s what made Blockbuster great.
We miss you Blockbuster.
Thanks for the memories.