As you sit in the backseat of your parents’ car, staring out the window, you notice a blue glow coming from a sign off in the distance. As you get closer, you make out the bright yellow text, “Blockbuster Video”.
The parking lot is full, except for one space on the edge. You’re dad let’s out a sigh of relief over not having to find street parking. You start to mull over what you want to rent. Are you in the mood for a funny movie? Action movie? Scary movie?
You decide that you won’t know until you’re walking the aisles.
As you enter the store, you’re swaddled in the familiar smell of vinyl and carpet cleaner. The room is bright and buzzing with people all looking to fill their weekend with a few of the latest hits… gripping action movies like “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, “Bad Boys”, tender family flicks like”Toy Story”, “Babe”, comedy romps like “Tommy Boy”, “Empire Records”, or hard hitting dramas like “Dead Man Walking” and “Dangerous Minds”.
The world outside disappears as you gander at the box art. Most of the new releases are checked out, but that’s ok, you have your eye on a classic horror movie from 1982, John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, starring Kurt Russell. Luckily, there are two copies left, stacked behind the cover box.
You anticipate pushback from your parents since it’s rated R and start to form your argument. You’re old enough not to be scared. You promise to turn it off if it gets too violent. You promise to watch your little sister’s pick first and wait until she goes to bed to watch your pick. Never has anyone been so articulate, pronounced and convincing. Your dad finally agrees, since he saw it when it came out and remembers liking it.
You wait behind your dad in the checkout line, eyeing the candy. You want to ask if you can get some Butterfinger BB’s, but you think better of it since nothing is assured until your movie pick is scanned out and paid for… you don’t want to test your luck.
You look around the room at all the people. They seem pretty content as they wander slowly, reading the backs of boxes, trying to figure out how they want to spend the next two hours of their evening. None of them know that they’re living relics of a moment lost in time. They don’t know they want everything faster, cheaper, more convenient, their search and viewing history read, analyzed, their minds invaded and their entertainment selected for them by a sophisticated algorithm. They aren’t cynical, afraid, confused about which facts are really facts, worried they’re being watched at all times and worried about their stolen data. They just enjoy movies, like you do, and they’re here to find a few they want to watch.
You and your family leave the store, VHS tapes slung under arm. You half-listen to your little sister talk about how cute the piggy is in the movie, “Babe”. As you approach your parents’ car, gripping your R-rated VHS, you think about the box art. The creature on the back looked awesome.
No school for two whole days. All the time in the world. It’s 1995 and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Maybe someday you’ll go row by row and watch every movie in there.