Culture Debate: Video Rental Stores

Let’s Hit Pause for a Moment
by Addie Maguire

vhsThe closing of Blockbuster in Corvallis, at the end of 2013, marked the end of an era. Browsing through the aisles of videos is over. Not long ago, half the fun of movie night was going to the movie store, arguing between Die Hard and When Harry Met Sally, agreeing to watch both, and being happily tempted by Gobstoppers and popcorn at the checkout. This has been replaced by the ever-modern Netflix.

What did we lose with this digital revolution? We lost tangibility. Tangibility does not exist in Netflix-land. We lost an outing, to run into people and see new things. We lost a chance of rare discovery, to find a movie we would never watch because the clerk recommended it.
Of course, there will be the occasional “vintage movie store” with the niche genres and old-fashioned DVDs. But even these will be far and few between since there is a huge movement to put everything online, including every vintage cut of classic film.

There is nothing wrong with Netflix or online media, but take a moment to realize what we are witnessing. Someday we will reminisce about those old-fashioned movie stores with cumbersome versions of film and entertainment.

Be Kind, Don’t Rewind
by Ygal Kaufman

Let’s not hit the rewind button, back to the days of people wrestling each other in the aisles for the last copy of Die Hard 2 or the only copy of Emmanuelle in Space.

The video store is dead, long live the video store… called the Internet.

Surely you’re sitting there thinking, “but don’t you miss the personalized journey of going to the store, discussing your choices with the pimple faced douchebag behind the counter, taking their advice about what movie to watch and then going through the whole pay and return process?”


I really, really don’t.

And here’s the interesting distinction to make: I don’t think Netflix and Hulu killed the video store. Common knowledge dictates that streaming was the final nail in the coffin of the traditional video store, but I think the real killer is still at large. The Internet Movie Database, known as IMDb, is the real culprit.

The website lets you look up basically every single movie ever made, all cross-referenced with all the names in the cast and credits. Did you just discover Chow Yun Fat for the first time (noob…)? Go check out every movie he ever made at IMDb and find it online to watch somewhere, all in the comfort of your bathrobe and slippies.

Now factor in Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, the public library (in some places) and the literally million other ways to see movie and TV content both legally and illegally online, and I don’t even see the debate.

And don’t even get me started on how much I prefer the online “adult” section…