|On the bright side, we can expect another Halloween Express.|
Unfortunately, with childhood resilience comes adolescent changeability in equal measure. As supermarket chains began adding in-store video rentals, I was all over them with the loyalty of a Benedict Arnold, or an Alexis Carrington. Colby. Cougar. Mellencamp. Anyway, a supermarket became just one more place to rent lovely stacks of lovely films, so when Blockbuster hit, I was no more partisan than a career polititian at election time. A superstore with supershelves of superfilms was right on time to add something new to the excess that defined the 1980s, but it never dawned on me back then that as Blockbuster ate up the real estate, it was swallowing the mom n' pops along with it. I look back now and I'm ashamed at how easy that meal went down.
Fast-forwarding to the present, it's sobering to see pretty much the same thing play out again, except this time, Blockbuster is the bill of fare. Why go out and rent a video when we can tub-o-lard at home on our sofas, settees, couches, beds and box springs, with remotes in our hands and Netflix at the ready. Fine, we'll rent a movie for a buck, but we'd better be able to bring it back when we damn well please. Otherwise, give us our Hulu, our Roku, our Apple TV and our Internet. And haven't we earned it? Well, yes. We logged a lot of miles in those VHS days. And we were too poor to own Laserdisc, but we balked at the dawning of DVD and now Blu-ray beckons our bucks like pixelated predators. I will be had, over and over again. But there was something so delicious about renting a video, and later, a DVD. Just to peruse the aisles and weigh the options, to play Siskel-and-Ebert with whoever was with us. All of that is gone now—for the most part. My husband and I enjoy shopping for films at our new favorite record store, Second Spin, but we look back at the bones of our beloved DVD Planet—which itself transitioned from a brick-and-mortar store to an online presence a few years back—and we know that our days in the aisles are numbered.
I bid adieu to Blockbuster, and give it props for lasting as long as it did, and for putting up a hell of a fight by trying to play the Netflix game. In the end, the company that aligned itself with VHS and DVDs couldn't even shake the associations and rebrand itself in the unrelenting marketplace of streaming media. And now it's gone and we'll get over it. There's just too many other, better choices to turn us on. But I wonder if we are better off.