williamallenpepper

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I KIND OF MISS VIDEO STORES

Remember video stores? When I was a kid, they were the coolest new thing. Libraries for movies and for three bucks you could TAKE ONE HOME and watch it, give it back and rent another one. Great big plastic VHS tapes full of any move you wanted – as long as what you wanted was  Back to the Future II . (And it was what I wanted.) Renting VHS movies was awesome. I even rewound the tapes before returning like a good little renter.

Yeah, I know there are still video stores around. But they’re kind of lonely, sad little relics of former hipness now, aren’t they? When you pass a video store in the 21st century, it’s a little like stumbling across a MySpace page. Or the ninth season of “The X-Files”. Or looking in my clothes closet. (For example: right now, I’m wearing TARDIS socks – ding! obligatory Doctor Who reference)

But back in the day, when I was a kid, going to the video store was an event. You no longer had to wait months or years for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to show up on network television with commercials and the swears dubbed out. You could go to the store, rent it as a new release and – for only 99 cents! – pick up an older movie or two for  a double (triple) feature. You browsed the shelves, read the blurb on the back of the actual tape box or a copy of the label, then took home whatever you like. You could rent as many movies as you wanted – as long as you got them back the next day or they’d fine your ass, especially if you didn’t rewind.

You can, of course, get more movies now than ever for very little money. But Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and the like are a little like buying books on Amazon or other online repository. Sure, you can get anything you want while sitting on your ass in your lonely, little room. But it’s like shooting cinematic fish in a barrel. Where’s the thrill of the hunt, the joy of nabbing the last copy of “The Pick-Up Artist” before that dork across the store gets it?

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about video stores lately. I enjoy movies. I like being able to turn on TV or instant streaming and watch whatever, whenever. But maybe that’s the problem. When you can have anything you want, you, ironically lose the thrill of discovery. When you had to go to the video store, you didn’t really know what you’d find. Sometimes, you’d find out the thing you wanted most, wasn’t even the thing you went in looking for.  (Mannequin 2) Maybe I’m just yearning for some sort of unanticipated thrill that’s been missing from a pretty static lifestyle of late.

Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to use the word “yearning”, because…awesome word.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work a shift at my second job. I’m still paying off an overdue rental fee from failing to return the VHS of “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”.

 

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