Mourning Blockbuster Video or Not

Have people become nostalgic for Blockbuster Video? it sometimes seems that way. You see a lot of 1990s nostalgia these days since the 1990s was now officially twenty years ago. Young people get to wax nostalgic about their childhoods, middle-aged people get to wax nostalgic about their young adult years, and older people either join in or laugh at all of us. Nothing makes things look good like a nostalgia filter, and people keep talking about a Blockbuster Video that’s very different from the one that I remember from the 1990s.

People keep talking about how much fun it was to browse through real shelves instead of the virtual shelves that Netflix tries to fool us with, as if its a ‘real’ library. I don’t know about that. On the very rare occasions I ever get nostalgic for browsing for things on shelves, I just go to the library and check something out for free. At Blockbuster, you’d have to pay three bucks for a few viewings of a movie, which is like a buck a viewing. You can rent movies for free at libraries, and the shelves are a lot more ‘old school.’ Libraries have been around for much longer. They’re also still here, while Blockbuster has vanished completely.

I understand that actually going to the video store and hunting for things was part of the fun. Still, there’s something a little bit suspenseful about seeing whether or not Netflix has the movie that you want, and you won’t have to pay anything extra for it. With Netflix, you also don’t have to pay for anything resembling late fees, and that’s worth the complete loss of the nostalgia factor.

One of the things that all of us complained about was the fact that we would have to take the videos back to the store when we’d rather be sleeping. This was such a common experience that they even made a commercial all about it back in the day, and they don’t always make commercials about common experiences. We all ended up paying late fees sometimes. So basically, you could end up spending five bucks to see a movie that you didn’t even end up liking. For just a little more money, you could get a month’s worth of Netflix movies and television shows. If you hate a movie, you can just hit the back button. You don’t have to drive anywhere.

Still though, Blockbuster is a part of 1990s culture. You’ll hear people joking about the video store all the time in 1990s movies. People will mention their video cards. If your 1990s character is a movie geek, you make him or her work at the video store, thus cementing the character’s geek credentials. People will talk about the ‘video clerk’ job when they’re talking about a job that doesn’t pay well.

You really can’t watch a 1990s television show or a movie without being reminded that Blockbuster Video and stores just like it existed. You also get reminded that this is just the way in which people often experienced movies back then, and you have to give Blockbuster a little credit for that. Still, just like we’re all thrilled to live in the 2010s with our smartphones and our Web 2.0 websites and everything else, we should be happy that Blockbuster Video is a thing of the past.