Goodbye, Blockbuster

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You know you’re old, or at least a little old, when you start to love obsolete things for their uselessness.

Blockbuster announced today that they’d close their remaining three hundred retail stores. Online, I saw mostly two kinds of reactions. “I can’t believe they were still alive,” and “Good riddance, they were an awful company.”

They were an awful company, and I’ll miss them. Most Friday nights in high school, I used to skateboard down to the big Blockbuster in my hometown with my teenaged friends to rent mediocre Nintendo 64 games and idiotic teen comedies. Even in our awful, cultureless suburb, we knew Blockbuster sucked. The garish blue and yellow color scheme, the usurious late fees. The way they’d have twenty copies of American Pie III and zero copies of whatever weird arcana you’d read about in the alt-weekly. But they were the easiest place for us to tap into this larger, more exciting culture that we could mostly just glimpse.

Blockbuster got beaten by progress, and unlike with most of these trade-offs, there’s no discernible downside for consumers. Streaming video is cheaper and has near-infinite selection. Plus, there are no clerks who check your ID before letting you rent Requiem For a Dream.

You credit the places you discover culture, even if they don’t deserve it. The sad, idiotic part of me, the part that regrets Blockbuster’s death, still thinks that all movies are born in blue and yellow boxes.