It’s a Friday night in the early 2000s. You and your family are browsing through a collection of DVDs, looking for a few hours of adventure. Once you pick out the perfect movie, whether an old favorite or a new exciting feature, you grab some snacks from the store (they sold snacks in addition) and head to check out the film. You are renting the movie, so you have to return it in a few days, but one night is all you need. The scenario I just described was a memory for myself and many others who visited BlockBuster growing up. However, picking a movie for movie night looks very different today; thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, we can browse movies and TV shows from the comfort of our homes. But has this benefit come with drawbacks? And is there a way to bring back that nostalgia and excitement from our childhoods?
Before we answer these questions, we have to discuss what happened to BlockBuster. It’s a long story, and Netflix was a piece of the puzzle. Before it became the worldwide streaming service we all know, Netflix was a mail-based DVD rental service. In September 2000, BlockBuster declined an offer to buy Netflix for 50 million dollars. Considering how successful Netflix became when it transitioned into online streaming, this seems like a massive mistake today. This turn of events understandably led to the company declining once Netflix began to evolve. However, changes in how we get our entertainment wasn’t the only reason BlockBuster fell out of popularity. It was a combination of financial debt and a whole mess of problems behind the scenes that led to the company’s decline. But regardless of that, the result was still the same.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, we can access nearly every movie and show known to man. Thousands of shows and movies are just a search away. But this convenience came with drawbacks. There was always a sense of adventure in heading out and picking out a movie to rent for the weekend; with Netflix, we don’t have to leave our house. It provides convenience at the cost of a fun excursion. It is only a minor inconvenience compared to all the benefits, but there’s more to it than that. If you always get what you want without ever having to leave your house, life can lose a bit of its excitement fast. And with so much content available, making a decision can be overwhelming. You could end up wasting your entire movie night browsing through Netflix or other streaming services trying to pick a movie. And then there’s the fact that some shows are exclusive to specific platforms, meaning you have to subscribe to all these different services to avoid missing out.
Now that we know some of the problems, what are the solutions? Can we recreate the same feeling of nostalgia BlockBuster gave us? Only one BlockBuster store is still open in Bend, Oregon. But there’s more to it than the loss of a video store. There’s a sense of community revolving around not just BlockBuster but going out to watch a movie in general. There’s a reason going to a movie theater and then going to dinner was such a “cliche” date idea: a couple would go see a movie, and then they would have something to talk about over their meal. And when BlockBuster opened, that experience transformed; you would go to the store with your partner or a group of friends and have a good time together.
But with everything being online, some of that community bonding kind of died down. But not to worry; while BlockBuster may be gone, we don’t have to let this special feeling die. Movie theaters are still very popular, and we can easily invite people over to watch the newest show with them. What I’m trying to say is that BlockBuster itself doesn’t need to come back. That sense of community that came from BlockBuster is what’s important.
Julia Furman is currently in her senior yearat HFU. She is studying English and Creative Writing and plans to go into Library Science.
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