Loss of a ‘National Treasure’

Last week, I discovered something unspeakably horrific.

It wasn’t a dead body and it wasn’t Sam Worthington. No, the Blockbuster Video in downtown Pleasant Hill was closing.

I know that on a scale of atrocities, a video store closing its doors isn’t “unspeakably horrific.” However, this is the latest in a series of widespread closures of Blockbuster.

MSN Money reported in February that the chain’s new owner, Dish Network, is closing 500 “underperforming” stores, leaving 1,000 stores open. The article also noted that Dish Network had “very little reason to keep the…remaining Blockbuster stores open at this point. Expect more closings as their leases expire.”

Why is this bad? Not only will this make it harder for film buffs (such as myself) to find great films, but this is also bad for film as a whole.

When I was 15, there were four video stores within three miles of my house: two Blockbusters, a Hollywood video and an independent video store. Today, there is only a Blockbuster remaining.

“Hold on,” you might say. “Today, we have DVD rental kiosks in addition to Netflix. You can rent new releases for cheap and get any movie mailed to your house. Who cares about video stores?”

Well, there are a few problems with those services. While DVD rental kiosks are all over the place (there are 12 or 13 within three miles of my home), their selection is terrible. With some exceptions, Redbox and Blockbuster Express kiosks mostly offer major releases from the last two years.

Netflix is different from Redbox in the sense that they have a huge selection. Their recommendation algorithm is also a useful tool in finding more movies to watch.

However, the necessity of a queue in renting DVDs from the website hampers the ability to impulsively rent movies. This is additionally impeded by the necessity to have the DVD shipped to my house.

In addition, I feel as though Netflix’s selection of streaming movies is subpar at best. It allows impulse watching, but many of the movies available on the service are rather awful.

Surprisingly enough, libraries seem to be the closest thing around to a video store, offering a decent selection on the shelf. The only real problem is that their DVDs are more scratched than the average rental movie.

While the lack of easily available movies bums me out, I can only imagine what will happen to film as a whole now that movies are harder to find. Great filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese grew up watching many movies. What will happen to film now that it is harder to devour movies?

This is definitely a loss for the arts and I feel that the possible effect the closure of video stores could have on film is scarier than “The Thing.”

I mean the 1980 “Thing” directed by John Carpenter, not the 2011 prequel. Go watch a good movie.