I used to love visiting the video store a lot more than I love scrolling through Netflix, Stan or iTunes for my televisual needs. Don't get me wrong. I love the convenience of digital distribution, the always there all you can eat buffet. But there was something weird and extra about actually dragging your arse down to the shop.
I've read a couple of really excellent think pieces on the passing of the video store. The best of the indie stores were akin to the finest book shops, a place were people and ideas came together. This piece at Vox by Dennis Perkins, "I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died," is one of the best in a crowded field.
A little taster:
The enemy of video stores was convenience. The victim of convenience is conscious choice.
We watch Netflix like we used to watch television on a slow Sunday night, everything blending together as we flip aimlessly through the channels. At first the choice is overwhelming: all of these options and nothing but the questionable "You Might Like" cue to guide us — we stare at the screen like idiots, paralyzed. But then when we make a choice, if we make a choice, it feels unimportant. Another option is only a click away.
If you're actually in a video store, the stakes are different. You're engaged. You're on a mission to find a movie — the right movie. You had to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to a store. You had to think about what you want, why this movie looks good and not that one, perhaps even seeking guidance or advice. Whether it's from nostalgia, advertising, packaging, reputation, recommendation, or sheer whim, a movie chosen from the shelves attaches you to your choice. Before the film even starts playing, you've begun a relationship with it. You're curious. Whether you've chosen well or poorly, you've made a choice, and you're in it for the duration.
With online streaming, we don't decide — we settle. And when we aren't grabbed immediately, we move on. That means folks are less likely to engage with a film on a deep level; worse, it means people stop taking chances on challenging films. Unlike that DVD they paid for and brought home, a movie on Netflix will be watched only so long as it falls within the viewer's comfort zone. As that comfort zone expands, the desire to look outside of it contracts.
He has many more insights, often touching and brilliant. It's sad to think that something which was once such an important part mass culture will soon pass away. But this is the way of all things.
Read it all here. It's a good Sunday arvo indulgence.