I miss video stores. I miss the Friday nights when myself and whomever would accompany me (friends, girlfriend, family) to the local video store to peruse the countless, metal racks of movies. When I was younger, I didn't catch on to the fact that the later I hit the store, the less newer movies there would be available, which wasn't exactly that bad of a thing to happen. (More on that later) Typically, it was enter through the front door and...scatter. Meet up in five minutes with selections. Usually, one of my friends slid through the saloon style doors that led to back room section filled with those naughty movies. (Not me!)
I was lucky enough to experience the paradigm shift from VHS to DVD. Remember the small rack of the DVD copies of a movie that nestled in the corner of the store, hidden from view like the ugly cousin of the home entertainment world, while it's "perceived" hotter relation, the VHS tape, controlled the attention of every movie aficionado who walked through those front doors that were covered in posters and flyers for local bands playing in the area.
With every month, the DVDs grew larger in number. More racks. More DVDs. VHS stock dwindling and dwindling, until the VHS tapes were regulated to that same small rack nestled in the corner. But these VHS tapes were not for rent. They were for sale. Like the good looking, but mean girl, in a romantic comedy, they'd fallen out of favor from the leading man, only to be replaced by DVD, which once was thought ugly, but we discovered had true beauty after all.
Side Note: I know we went from VHS to Laser-disc to DVD, but nobody rented Laser-discs. Nobody. Curse those rot lines!
Back to the video store and the search for the perfect movie to accompany movie night. Remember it wasn't just a trip to the video store we were making, there was a food run attached to this adventure. Whether it was the snacks at the front counter, hitting the convenience store on the way back home or even ordering a pizza to the house, the counterpart to any great move night adventure to the video store was the food run. This wasn't just about watching a movie. It was an event. A shared event that required action on our parts.
So, you hit the video store to grab a copy of the newest release of Cobra, but the video store only ordered 10 copies and they're all gone. (No doubt several are home with employees) Now what? You hit the other racks. The genre sections. The employee picks. Movies you would never even consider. Remember the Full Moon Productions end caps? (I know one person who does. Keith!) I would've never watched movies like The Stuff if not for video stores. Yes, it's truly awful, but it's sugar eating people! How can you not watch?!
I like Netflix and I use it quite often, but how many times do you rush home from work on a Friday night and go: "Hey. Let's see what's new on streaming tonight?" If anything, technology, while glorious and awesome in its assistance of providing the abundance and ease of options to the home, it has seriously damaged a key factor of Movie Night: The sociological bonding action of renting the movie from your local video store. It's no longer that shared event, as stated earlier.
Maybe I'm being nostalgic for a time when I had more movie nights. Maybe I'm forgetting the nights standing in the middle of the comedy aisle arguing over whether we should rent Throw Momma From the Train or Bachelor Party. Maybe I'm acting more like a cranky old man who doesn't see the reason why I need a cell phone, when there's a perfectly good rotary dial phone attached to my wall at home. I just miss walking the racks. Going out and scanning the local video store. Grabbing some Reeses Pieces on the way out. Calling a few friends to come join us.
Now I feel old, but maybe there's hope. Maybe I'm not using Netflix to its full capability. Perhaps movie night isn't lost, but rather in dire need of an upgrade.
Movie Night 2.0. Invite friends over. Order a Pizza. Open up the Streaming Netflix through the PS3 and find us a really, awful movie to make fun of.