“Wait, there were still Blockbusters open?” is how most of us responded to the news yesterday that the company would be closing down it’s remaining 300 stores. This news mostly helps explain that time Lamar Odom was spotted in a Blockbuster a few months ago. Again, though most of us had already assumed they had closed down all togehter, for those of us invested in film, this is still kind of sad. And for those of you who had yet to pay of your late fees from the remaining stores, ya’ll must feel vindicated.
Amy Kaufman of the LA Times shared her ode to Blockbuster, which inspired me to do the same. I know this is incredibly corny as this was a video rental company and not a recently deceased relative or pet, but it just won’t be the same. It’s been a very long time since I rented a physical copy of a movie. I see a lot in theatres and if I missed it, I usually just rent it On Demand. Now, I still buy physical copies of movies I want to own because if I am going to pay to own something I don’t see the sense in paying the same price for a digital file I would for a physical. I like to own things. I like to lend things out. I like to show where my money has gone. All that. I mean, I still buy CDs. Yes. While I stand behind purchasing physical, I understand and fully support the online/digital rental world. It just makes the most sense, and is so much cleaner. Ya, sometimes the quality is a little wonky but I think it’s wonderful. With that said, On Demand/iTunes/Netflix or torrenting will never give me the memories and the pleasure that walking in to a Blockbuster provided. Never ever.
Ever since a young age, movies were my thing. My mom reminds me that my babysitter got me into film via her Disney collection, and that she helped start my collection. Our storage room is where my VHS collection has gone to sleep, in hopes that I will someday use them in this really trendy, vintage coffee table idea I have in mind instead of ending up on an episode of Hoarders or Intervention, but I digress. I was lucky enough to grow up living very close to a Blockbuster. One of them was so close I could conveniently walk there and back. It was also located beside a Pizza Hut, so if you want a look back into my weekends in my very early, very lonely days of high school, that was it. Oh, you bet I made it a Blockbuster AND a Pizza Hut night, okay?
Blockbuster had a lot of flaws. A lot. Those pesky late fees. The movie you wanted that was always out of stock. Having to hunt down the clerks to check the returned shelf to see if there may be a copy of X-Men because you just needed to see it one more time. The prices of new releases to own were hilariously high. Maybe you handed in your resume several times and never got hired (ahem…)? But again, all of those are wonderful, wonderful memories. I personally loved the Previously Viewed section where you could buy movies, even recent ones, for so cheap. Half of my collection stems from that, so thanks guys.
Blockbuster unknowingly fed my passion. As an aspiring film journalist, all of this, all of what is hopefully to come, is largely because of Blockbuster. Now, maybe the current generation will have the same admiration for torrenting, which is gross, but that doesn’t seem likely because as wonderful and as accessible as the online world has made things, it lacks the tangibility and memorability of walking in to a video rental store on a Friday night and just exploring. So, thanks for letting me explore, Blockbuster.