The charmingly outdated business will live on in our hearts
I don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately. My mind keeps roaming back to the good old days when walking into people while texting wasn’t really a thing and avocado toast was just a confusing phrase that someone might mistakenly utter. Back then I didn’t have to worry about the NSA spying on me or Russian hackers threatening my democratic sovereignty. Before the Internet literally ruined everything… including video rental.
The moment when Netflix decided to start streaming things over the Internet instead of sending physical copies of the movie through the mail was the day the movie rental experience began its slow, agonizing death. Your kids will have no idea what in God’s name a Blockbuster is, and that is a literal human tragedy on par with the death of Yahoo. Before you go judging me, hear me out. Some of my greatest childhood memories came out of a Blockbuster. See, it was the ritual experience that meant so much: the hours of searching through stacks and stacks of terrible movies just to find one that might have a chance of being interesting; the waiting in line to check out the movie; the arriving home to discover that the movie inside the case was not what the outside advertised; the going back to Blockbuster to return the movie for the one you actually picked out; the haggling with the cashier who doesn’t want to give you a break; the getting home for a second time to put in the movie only to realize that it is not at all interesting, but you force yourself to sit there because of the trouble you went through to get to this point. It’s all so beautifully flawed and human.
Sure, you get to watch the movies and TV shows you want with no hassle and very little effort, but you miss out on all the wonderful human interaction that came with the Blockbuster experience. The judging eyes as you put together a stack of guilty pleasure movies was not only validating that you should be guilty, but also a fun way to learn that life is an awkward mess and you should just embrace it. You see, I’m not saying that Blockbuster was more efficient, nor am I saying you would be happier if Blockbuster was still around. I’m merely telling you that we’re missing out on so much now that Blockbuster is gone.
Sean Stouffer is a second year Writing for Film, TV, and Emerging Media major who still uses a flip phone to send text messages. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.