Browsing for titles in an actual bricks and mortar store is nothing short of a luxurious experience.
By Matt Moir
Published April 03, 2013
My wife and I bought our first home in February. It's in the Locke Street area. In the time between purchasing the house and taking possession of it, we've been staying with my lovely in-laws at their place in the suburbs. The room that we sleep in - my wife's childhood one - is right next to her parents' room. So there's that.
And though there are some decent aspects to living in suburbia (I might leave it to greater minds than mine to identify what those things are) and I am very grateful for my in-laws' generosity, there are some things in which the 'burbs just don't measure up.
One of those things - perhaps the most significant, in my humble opinion - is the lack of that noble old institution, the video rental store.
I've always been a sucker for the venerable video rental store; unrepentantly old school, and kicking sand in the face of technological progress. But the battle it's fighting is a losing one. Netflix and iTunes have rendered video stores virtually extinct outside of urban areas.
In the particular suburb in which I'm staying, the closest 'video store' is a small, darkened corner in a convenience store, and to get there requires getting in the car and actually driving on a highway. It's absurd.
My lament for the deeply troubling lack of video stores is often met with a toxic cocktail of confusion, indifference and contempt from my wife. She scoffs at my plight; she rolls her eyes and demands to know what the problem is with just downloading something like everyone else in the 21st century.
For shame! She can roll her eyes all she wants, for I, like the protagonist in an Albert Camus novel, welcome her scorn. I court it.
Besides, visiting a video rental store is quite clearly far superior to downloading movies online.
First, browsing for titles in an actual bricks and mortar store is nothing short of a luxurious experience. You can stand in front of a wall - multiple walls! - of DVD covers, and let your eyes scan the buffet of titles before you.
You can actually pick up the cases of multiple films and carefully ponder and compare the titles. And when your gaze falls upon that film you made a mental note to watch months ago, but have since forgotten about? We all know that feeling is nearly indescribable.
That experience is head and shoulders above the mind-numbing act of clicking from page to page, dumbly hoping for some critics' aggregate site to make a decision for you.
Crucially important for the serious film snob is selection, and a good independent video store will offer you just that. Think you're going to hop onto iTunes or Netflix and find that French-Belgian white-collar thriller you've been dying to see all winter? Think again, my friends.
By using iTunes, you're going to be stuck with the formulaic rom-com and dull-witted action flicks favored by the unwashed masses.
It's an intolerable state of affairs. Only a bona fide rental store is going to offer those foreign films, those art-house flicks, and those ironic classics from yesteryear required to sate the appetite of film lovers with discerning tastes.
And of course it is a surprise to no one that local, independently run businesses are the backbone of any thriving neighborhood. The cool video store with the weird titles, the artisanal fromagerie selling outrageously priced cheddar, the pet store offering personalized cupcakes for the family dog: these are the businesses offering a valiant defence against the big box onslaught (if anyone knows this, it's a Locke Streeter).
They should be supported at all costs, lest our society drown in a sea of Blinds To Gos and Crabby Joes.
Finally, those of us of a certain age might remember those sunny afternoons from our youth when we hopped onto our bikes and, with our friends, pedaled to the local video store that, if you were as lucky as I, offered complimentary popcorn to its customers.
Mostly we would rent VHS films starring towers of the industry like Bruce Willis or Sly Stallone. Gloriously, those movies often featured a solid four to five seconds of an actress baring her breasts.
I remember the magical feeling of giddy anticipation while riding home, my friends and I bursting with pride in our successful effort to rent a wretchedly bad movie featuring a laughable script and topless women.
We were too young to have to worry about the pressure of school or the demands of a job, but certainly old enough to embrace a measure of youthful independence, and renting movies with friends was as much a rite of passage as an act of commerce.
And though I can't recall the titles or plots of those movies, I do remember lazy Saturdays in the summer hanging out with friends who I don't see anymore, and I can't help but to remember them fondly.
Maybe downloading movies from home is easier and faster and more convenient than going to a store to rent one, but it doesn't build those types of memories. And that, truly, is a shame.
So maybe you should think about that the next time you plan on spending the night in, and rent a movie by clicking smugly on your laptop. I'll be walking my dog to Select Video.
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