November 6, 2013

The biggest shock for me in Wednesday’s news that Blockbuster would be closing what was left of its rental stores was the fact that Blockbuster still had rental stores that weren’t closed. There were 300 left? How? That’s practically Amish in the level of disregard for the evolution of technology.

Here’s the Onion’s video of the Historical Blockbuster as a living history exhibit:

I knew it was better to wait them out than attempt to return “Runaway Bride.”

How was Blockbuster still in business? Sometimes I tell stories to younger people about the days when, in order to watch the first trailer for “The Phantom Menace,” I had to leave the family computer slowly downloading for a full day, and it had almost gotten to the 50-second mark when someone in the house had to make a phone call, and all that progress was lost. It’s really horrifying. Contrast this whole experience to earlier today, when I attempted to find video of a sketch online that hadn’t been posted yet and I reacted as indignantly as though someone had denied me air. I dimly remember the time before having access to all videos instantly, whether you paid for them or not, was your birthright, but I don’t like to dwell too much on recollections of it. That way madness tends.

But Blockbuster — that’s practically antediluvian! That’s pre-dial-up!

The ’90s were so hard. The things we went through, just to watch a movie! Waiting in physical lines outside the theater, calling 1-800-FANDANGO where the voice would completely fail to understand the name of the movie even after you stated it eight times, driving to Blockbuster to pass through the gauntlet of the disapproving gaze of a pimply person when you alighted on “Dune,” having to drive back later to return it, having to rewind — Don’t let every click-bait list ever published on the Internet fool you, the ’90s were a difficult time. I can’t believe Blockbuster lingered so many decades after its era. It’s like finding a vaudeville theater next door — it’s kind of cool, but you’d never visit because you have Netflix to get through.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.