I’ve had a Blockbuster membership since the days of VHS when I first moved to Fort Lauderdale and Blockbuster was based here. Today I said goodbye.
I moved here after my 12 year stint in Madison, Wisconsin, a land of independent video stores, eclectic selections, bountiful independent films, controversial titles and yes they even had an “adult” binder from which you could choose your “entertainment” for the evening. Sure they had been small and sometimes you had to get there very early to get a copy of the latest release or you had to get on a waiting list, but you had variety. The selection was often based on the recommendations of the owners, people who considered themselves film buffs. They didn’t have 100 copies of the latest mega-movie so that they could carry 1 or 2 each of 30 other films. They also didn’t restrict content.
Blockbuster at the time was an option in Madison but it was only one of many. Some years later on a visit back I noticed Blockbuster was everywhere. The old neighborhood video stores I used to go to were gone.
When I moved to Fort Lauderdale your only choice was Blockbuster. They were headquartered here (before Wayne Huizenga moved them to Texas, what do you expect of an NFL team owner?) When Huizenga and John Mel bought Blockbuster they opened a store on every corner, bought out the franchise owners and removed titles from the shelves. (Especially x-rated and those that were anti-religious in content). Blockbuster invaded towns like Wal-Mart and Starbucks. They drove out the independents.
Then BB moved the company HQ to Dallas and sold off to Viacom and making a bundle in the usual Huizenga fashion. But not before putting a bunch of people out of work in Ft Lauderdale.
Hollywood Video made a stab at breaking into BB’s home turf but the stores weren’t conveniently located (at least to me). But otherwise just try to find an indie video store without having to drive out of town for some distance. (There were however XXX stores everywhere around here.)
Meanwhile, BB gobbled up video game chains and got into music and a bunch of other enterprises before bloating itself with overexpansion.
I noticed too that there were a number of christian themed movies being carried at the store oftentimes they were disguised as science fiction or drama’s, etc and I would get really ticked off at having been duped by the video packaging as being a standard commercial release. (I knew enough to avoid anything “starring” Kirk Cameron as those were the obvious ones.) I’m trying to recall the names of some of these flicks but I’ve done such a good job blocking them from memory that I can’t recall their titles. Needless to say they usually ended with the protagonist being “saved” by Jeebus or a some facsimile thereof.
But go to Blockbuster and just try to find “The God Who Wasn’t There” and my local BB didn’t even carry Bill Maher’s “Religulous” when it came out on DVD. Now that I think about it, it may have something to do with that big church across the street. (But they did carry Dogma, then again that poked fun at Catholics, so it must be alright)
Blockbuster didn’t keep up with technology. Netflix beat them to the punch for home delivery and real-time downloading and more options became available through cable and the advent of increased internet bandwidth brought additional options. (Not to mention Google TV and
Apple TV and Hulu and…)
I rented fewer and fewer movies over the years and in the last year may have rented all of maybe 10 DVDs. Usually because nothing was on the TV schedule to watch (or watch again) or having seen all of the latest offerings on “On Demand”.
But I still kept the membership for BB just for those odd nights when nothing was on and I could go out, pick up an order of ribs and a six-pack, return home to my couch and pig out while the flickering lights of the tv screen bathed me in semi-catatonic bliss.
Last week there was a sign out in front of my local Blockbuster. Closing sale.
I had still been getting emails from Blockbuster for free movie rentals even though the monthly new release email had stopped coming months ago.
Today I received this emai from BB.
I hit unsubscribe and I sat down to write this after putting my membership card through the shredder.