Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Riske Business: Going Back to the Video Store for 30 Days
1. Selection of independent movies – I was surprised to find that Family Video carried some independent movies that I was interested in seeing such as American Mary, Would You Rather and The End of Love. On the other hand, they did not have copies of No or A Band Called Death in their stores. Redbox doesn’t have many of these titles (though they do have No), but I can find any of them on Video On Demand. This is a lukewarm pro if a pro at all.
2. Inexpensive – I never spent more than $10 in any visit during the month. More often than not, I spent $5 or less and rented 2 movies. Family Video did a nice thing for new members, where rentals were half off for the first 30 days. Most new releases were $3.50 a night for Blu-ray/$2.60 for DVD and less if the movie had been out for more than a month (e.g. Warm Bodies was $2.10 on Blu-ray for one evening or $2.60 for 5 days).
1. Opportunity cost – Want to see a movie? Cool. Is it worth a 25 minute round trip drive to the video store? I think I’d rather just take a nap. During the month, I only rented a one-night new release rental once because I couldn’t bring myself to think about driving back and forth from my place to the video store the next night to return the movie.
2. Availability of older movies – It’s obvious that due to shelf limitations, a video store cannot stock every old movie. However, almost every time I tested Family Video if they had an older movie, they didn’t have it. If it were not for this experiment, I would have re-watched The Truman Show, Demolition Man, Hamlet 2 and Tango & Cash; alas, it was not meant to be.
5. Passé – It’s super odd and depressing to look at a new release wall in a video store. You have to remind yourself movies like Identity Thief, Evil Dead and Oz the Great and Powerful ever existed.
6. I’m not wired that way anymore – I think my average time in the store during a visit was five minutes or less. I’m not wired to walk around and enjoy looking at shelves anymore. I have R.U.S. (Redbox Urgency Syndrome), where I feel like I need to know what I want and get the hell out of there because other people are behind me in line.
7. It removes spontaneity – This goes along with the "opportunity cost" problem. Say I decide on a whim to watch Mud again. I feel like I can’t do that, because if I go out to the video store to rent it, I basically have to watch it right away to bring the damn thing back tomorrow night so I don’t incur late fees. So now I’m not watching Mud, even though it’s what I want to watch, because it would be too much work to see it. I end up renting something else that I want to see less because it’s a five-night rental.
8. Late fees – I kept Warm Bodies late because I wanted to see what would happen with late fees. I brought it back a day late; on the next rental, the cashier told me that I had a late fee. I said “You can just waive it, it’s fine.” He looked at me like I was nuts. He said he had to charge me $2.10 because it was late. I paid the late fee, but honestly does this company think it’s still 1992? You can’t charge people late fees anymore and expect to stay in business. What audacity. I told him it was fine to waive it. Did he think I was lying to him? No one would care. When I worked at Blockbuster back in the day, I used to have to tell people they had late fees. I didn’t understand back then why people couldn’t watch movies and return them on time. I always could. But then over the years I got a life and realized that those old Blockbuster customers had one, too. Shit happens. I can’t watch Warm Bodies tonight. Cut me a break, video store. BTW, telling a customer they had a late fee was the WORST. They would always get mad at you even though you were not invested in this plight whatsoever, but I totally get it from the customer perspective. Renting a movie should be a fun experience and telling someone they have a late fee is like saying "Hey little girl, your dad is an irresponsible twat, should we rent him this movie?”
9. Store vibe – Family Video smells like a foot. Redbox doesn’t. Video On Demand doesn’t. Netflix doesn’t. Because street justice, my feet now smell like Family Video.
10. Having to wait – I wanted to rent Cloud Atlas on Blu-ray. I did rent it, but it took six visits to the video store before they had it in stock.
13. Don’t judge me – In recent years I’ve been managing my own home entertainment experience. The notion that another person was going to inspect what I was renting was very unappealing to me. For example, I might want to see the remake of Last House on the Left, and if I order it on Netflix it’s no big deal. If I rent it from Family Video, I think in the back of my head that I’m being judged as a weirdo.
In closing, going back to the video store was a real pain in the ass. I fall on the side of progress when it comes to home entertainment. Nostalgia is overrated in this case. Streaming, Video On Demand and DVD rental machines provide me with flexibility, convenience and a reason not to talk to PEOPLE. That’s my America.