I miss my local United Video.
I said it.
I am aware this makes me sound like a total neo-luddite or someone possibly obsessed with the early 2000s, but seriously.
My life has been substantially less interesting since they closed down the Mairangi Bay United Video.
But there’s Netflix… I hear you remind me
Sky on Demand…
Haven’t you discovered the internet!?
Let me make this perfectly clear. I internet. My husband too? He internets. He internets and computers for a job so if anyone was going to be gushing love and symphonies for technology it would be us.
But we can’t.
In fact I would argue that none of those services will ever be as good as having a local Video and DVD hire down the road from your house.
Yes, I know the fines were a pain, and having to return your overnight DVD by 1pm was a total mission but I’ve been reflecting on it recently and I have decided that we have been robbed of a Golden Age of sorts since the mass closings of United Video and Video Ezy and the like.
Let me tell you why.
Throw back to 2010, my Saturday nights consisted usually of going down the road to the epic Pizza Store Dough (seriously, the best chicken, bacon and blue cheese pizza you’ll ever eat).
We’d order the food, then skirt next door to the United Video where us – and ten million other people – were scouring through the collection.
I knew that place like the back of my hand, the recent releases, where they kept the highly recommended – what was likely to be in highly recommended – where to find the copy of ‘Win A Date with Tad Hamilton’ I’d hired at least a million times. It wasn’t so much about seeing the ‘new’ or ‘latest’ film.
It was about discovery.
Finding an old faithful that you’d seen every six months for the last five years.
A 1980s comedy that is actually amazing.
A rom com or chick flick you hadn’t caught when it first came out and now it’s on 7 day hire and you read the back blurb and it sounds AMAZING.
So you’d hire the DVD (and one or two back ups in case you changed your mind) and then grab your pizza and go home to watch a movie.
These, my friend were the glory days.
And while I still hear a collection of you ‘pffft’-ing and rolling your eyes, allow me to explain the three reasons why.
Firstly: The Aesthetics
There is something more substantial about a hand written letter. About a bottle of wine you have to open with a cork screw. About handing over the cold hard cash for the handbag you really shouldn’t be paying that much for.
There was something aesthetically pleasing about GOING to the video store. It became an occasion, something you actually had to change out of pajama pants for (sometimes…)
It became an event.
I didn’t just lay on the couch, internalizing my own existence in my leggings and oversize cat t-shirt and suddenly think, ‘hey, maybe I should watch a two to three hour film’ so I reached for the remote/controller/whatever and scrolled through the ‘search engine’ for ages looking for whatever I ‘felt like’.
It was a Saturday night, and I wanted Pizza and it was going to be EPIC.
I miss video stores because now I have been robbed of an aesthetic experience in my life, a sense of occasion and event, which now is so blasé it can bleed into your life where instead of watching a specific movie for a specific set of time you end up watching Friends on a Friday Night because why not?
Second Reason: My Husband and I Fight More When Looking For A Movie On Netflix
Too much information? Probably.
Seriously though, I’m pretty sure I am not the only one but my husband and I bicker and spend way longer searching for a movie on Netflix or a similar electronic medium than we ever did in a video store.
‘Oh that’s a good one…’ Josh will say, scrolling through a bunch of recommended movies.
‘Ugh, no way, I hate that one.’ Says Jess, ‘what about that one?’
‘I don’t feel like that one…’
And so it goes, on and on and on until it is ten o’clock on a Friday night and we eventually give up and watch Ancient Aliens episodes recorded on the History Channel.
When you were on a movie hunt at the local video rental generally you had an idea of what kind of night you’re wanting.
Action movie, super epic explosions evening?
Chick flicks with your besties?
Throw back Barbie Movie Marathon?
Generally there is a sort of prearranged plan or desire which you’re wanting to satisfy.
When movies are robbed of their occasion, you end up bickering for ages until you eventually binge watch conspiracy documentaries.
Third Reason: The Selection.
‘Oh yeah, I feel like watching Beauty and the Beast.’ Ever tried to FIND that movie on any viewing platform?
Oh no, such-and-such doesn’t have it because they sold all the rights to Disney movies to whatever their name is.
You end up trawling through literally every medium to find the movie you’re craving.
Worst yet, some movies are being totally eliminated from existence!
If you didn’t buy video or DVD copies of Muppets Family Christmas or the 90s edition of Miracle on 34th Street you’re out of luck.
These big companies are basically deciding what is kept alive and intact in our viewing history.
This is as opposed to the video store where you could hire that movie that was a total flop but you loved for as long as you wanted to even though the cover was totally munted.
Recently I have been collecting old books from second hand stores or TradeMe. They aren’t just random old books, I am systematically purchasing books that I read when I was younger that I enjoyed. Sometimes I can’t even remember the name or the author so I google the general content to track it down.
The reason I am doing this is because more and more people are throwing out books, and more and more awesome books are not being reprinted, so as they are binned, you can’t get them any more.
Angels Academy? That series is GOLD and yet you can only buy it second hand (I still can’t find the final book!)
Donna Parker, oh. my. gosh. You have to read that series!
And not just obscure books that I was into when I was twelve, what about the Magic School bus? Usborne Puzzle Adventures? The list literally goes on of excellent books you can’t get anymore.
The same can we said for movies.
And video stores used to capture this unique movie history.
The issue is that all of these streaming service platforms are slowly eroding away some really excellent movies that may never be seen ever again!
I remember the day the video store down the road from my house closed.
I was devastated, but they were doing a big movie clear out where you could come and buy the DVDs from their collection.
So I did what any self respecting person would do. I sat the night before making a list of my ‘frequent hires’ from the video store and then the following day lined up with the other people (other people line up too!) and charged into the store the moment in opened in a kind of rampage grabbing the titles on my list.
Sleepless in Seattle!?
All of the Home Alones!!
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!
I’m pretty sure I brought like… twenty DVDs that day.
The only one devastating truth is this.
I did not manage to track down Galaxy Quest.
You know? That epic movie with Tim Allen where a bunch of aliens have been receiving TV shows in outer space and think this sci-fi show is real? They come and abduct the actors to get them to help them beat these bad guy aliens and it is hilarious and has Professor Snape in it?
If you don’t believe me about the importance of video stores, you try and track down THAT movie now.
It is almost virtually impossible.