A bell chimes as I enter the dingy, worn out Blockbuster store. The cloying odor of microwave popcorn makes me cough, my lungs trying instinctively to protect themselves from the DNA altering petrochemical aroma. Shadows loom in the corners and from the back of the store where the florescent lights don’t work. Overhead video monitors are all black, staring, silently shouting “The way is shut!”. Somewhere a muffled radio bleats, “-to repay Christ for dying on the cross by sending in your donation, friends!”
It is the only sound in what feels like a forgotten back room in a decaying thrift shop.
This is what death looks like to a video rental store. The red carpets are stained maroon, the shelves are dusty, the marquee behind the counter is missing a handful of lights, a forced smile with missing teeth.
Once these stores were bright places busy with roaming flocks of people, content in their Friday night ritual, drawn to the activity, the glad noise, the sparkle.
Technology and politics deadened the noise and tarnished the sparkle. Corporate colossi that outshined the small local stores and starved them out of business are themselves suffering the end of a long famine that will surely leave behind nothing but the brightly painted bones of closed store fronts.
I shake off these depressing thoughts and walk over to New Releases, intent on finding a copy of “The Mist”. I wouldn’t find out until a couple of hours later what a terrible choice this would be as an attempt to lift my spirits. Honestly, “The Mist” is cinema garbage. It is a boring retelling of an otherwise brilliant Stephen King short story. Plagued with haphazard casting and a shamefully exploitative finale, it should be avoided with extreme prejudice. Never trust a director that mistakes sickening shock value for irony.
Happy (oblivious) with my purchase, I walk next door to pick up supper from Domino’s Pizza and then head home where Mrs. Spookyblue is waiting. The depressing, gray snow feeling fades as I leave behind the battered shopping center with its dying Blockbuster store.
Unless the MPAA screws it up, you’ll soon be able to instantly download straight to your TV every movie ever made, every episode of The Odd Couple, Lost In Space, and Petticoat Junction. The paltry “On Demand” listings offered by your cable company will be replaced with anything and everything that anyone might possibly want to watch, and your viewing habits will be meticulously recorded, stamped, spindled, and mutilated.
And the Friday night ritual, though changed, will continue.