Letters from the Editor: Be kind rewind

When the Blockbuster in my neighborhood closed about a week ago, I showed up with what felt like the rest of the town to claw my way through DVD racks in search of discounted copies of “Heathers” and rolled up movie posters. Nostalgia is a hot commodity these days, but I didn’t realize the heat had built up into an inferno until I pulled up to the store’s closing sale and realized there was no parking, no distinct line to the door, and no room to navigate.

I’ve been to Black Fridays in Alaska and they’ve always seemed relatively tame to me. That’s because, apparently, Black Friday is nothing compared to one of the last Blockbuster’s closing down. I realized, while moms shouldered past me and toddlers stepped over my toes, that I could understand why. There was a weird aching in my heart too, a feeling of loss that threatened to overwhelm me while I watched smiling staff members sell the last copy of a “Batman: The Animated Series” collection.

Maybe it’s the sudden resurgence of films from my childhood: remakes, sequels, prequels, and reboots running rampant through Hollywood making me feel bogged down. Maybe it’s because I grew up with and even worked in Blockbuster and losing it in my home town feels like losing a piece of my history. Maybe I’m sick of seeing “Ready Player One” advertisements and everywhere, like Steven Spielberg himself is screaming in my face, ‘Remember your childhood?! Buy my merchandise and remember!’

Blockbuster closing was my reminder of what real sentimentality felt like, instead of someone trying to pander to my memories while reaching for my wallet. Further, it left me thinking about my conversations with customers while I still worked at the store. I remember handing videos to people who felt uncomfortable navigating Redbox. I saw regulars who drove miles out of their way to get to the store because they still live in areas where streaming is impossible.

The last Blockbusters closing down is probably a long time coming, but I’m sad to see it going, if only because I still believe it had a purpose. The store wasn’t open to prey on people’s nostalgia, it stayed open because there are still people for whom Blockbuster was the only realistic option. I’m going to miss seeing the store serve that purpose almost as much as I’ll miss stopping by myself.

 

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