Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Movie Lover's Lament

For a variety of reasons, I am going to remember 2011 as a year of loss and mourning.

This realization hit me as hard as ever last week when I strolled over to my local Second Cup to enjoy a cup of coffee and a book for a while. Before entering the cafe, I had a ritual - I would go next door to the Blockbuster and peruse the new releases, the foreign titles, and the special interest documentaries.

Blockbuster now sits closed and empty. I give it a fleeting glance as I enter Second Cup,the barristas greeting me by name.

Of course, I knew the writing was on the wall and I tried to give myself time to prepare. Blockbuster went into receivership in the United States some time ago. Still, there was hope for Canada. But then, a select number of Canadian Blockbusters closed down.

But not mine. No, it was still standing large and tall, filled with all kinds of movies I had yet to explore.

I felt ominous when my membership expired and I was not given the option to renew, being explained that the company was in receivership and as such the future was uncertain.

Then, the end came. It was announced that all Blockbusters in the city, and in Canada, would be closing. Closing out sales were held, and I purchased a few DVDs at rock-bottom prices. I felt choked up as I stood in line for the last time, looking around at the near-empty shelves, a film of some kind playing loudly on the large screen behind us.

How and why did this tragedy occur?

Internet killed the video store.

I contributed to this situation. The convenience and ease of renting movies on iTunes, as well as the low price and increasingly good selection of a Netflix membership all took their toll on how often I would physically go out and rent movies.

Still, there was just something about browsing through the aisles, making discoveries, and reading the covers. I would often leave with two or three - usually a new release or two as well as possibly something I had never heard of before, just to try something different.

One can browse online, but it doesn't feel the same. Lots of browsing online makes me dizzy in a way wandering around in a video store never did, even if I had no idea what I was looking for.

A generation will now be raised up not knowing what it is like to physically rent movies. And while this is definitely a first world problem, I will miss my pre-coffee ritual.

Of course, there is always the library.

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