In another time, in another world really, I was a member of the dedicated customer service representatives of the great clan known as Blockbuster Video. So gather round, children. Gather round this burn barrel full of discarded cover boxes bound for destruction as I spin you a yarn of olden times.
My run with the clan dates back to the time of the VHS Dominion, just months before the Great Purge replaced the beloved format with the compact and audio-visually superior DVD. In happy times, we celebrated with games of strength and skill, seeing who among us could carry the most rental returns at a time, or who could scan in weekend returns the swiftest before the Wheel of Time rolled over to doom a member with the dreaded Late Fee. Overnight feasts of popcorn and confectionary delights accompanied our whole-store inventory sessions, while newly christened stores needing to be stocked from the ground up were cause for celebration.
But there were dark times, indeed. I lost an eye during the Black Friday Riot of ’99; luckily, God saw fit to grant me with two. We all thought the bloody holiday would be the last before The Fall of Y2K, but we were saved in the end. However, I was dealt a grievous wound in the Rental Wars, a tumultuous time in which innocents fell victim to the culling as one by one the retail stores fell. Hollywood Video, our greatest foe and our last remaining ally, was the last to go. I survived to escape this bloody business before the Great Disc Wars of the 2000s which saw vicious battle done between the Followers of HD DVD and the Blu-ray Cultists, the latter of whom ultimately emerged victorious.
Now, as I look back on the charred landscape that was once a pristine shopping complex in which my local Blockbuster proudly stood, I count myself lucky to be an online blogger with access to Netflix and the like. Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a bit of a traitor. Luckily, folk of stronger stuff than I still stand, defiant, in the face of the empty promises of unlimited data and high-speed internet. These are the hardy folk of Alaska, and one of the few remaining Blockbusters still stands in their territory today. It is a beacon of hope in these uncertain times, a bastion of accessible entertainment, and a monument to those who have
died made minimum-wage defending it.
Witness one of the last great Blockbuster Videos in existence still making its stand today in this modern world of evanescent excess:
For many Alaskans streaming online is not a good option, so movie night means Blockbuster night. While the vast majority of Blockbusters in the U.S. have closed down, there are few still hanging on. Today, there are only 10 left in the entire country, and six of those are in Alaska. But the dark, long winters and sparse layout of Alaska allows Blockbusters to do pretty well, especially when Wifi is substantially more expensive than in other states. VICE News speaks with loyal customers at one of the last Blockbusters in the U.S. about why they love their old school movie night.