by Cathi Bond
First, a wee caveat. I am revisiting an article I wrote for wwww.rabble.ca nearly four years ago about something I found alarming. Why? Because not a damned thing has changed that’s why. And in fact …
It’s only getting worse.
Once busy, video stores have mostly vanished, and the few left are gasping for air. It’s as if there was a video zombie apocalypse and everybody went nuts and broke into every video hut (at least in Ontario and I would venture a goodly wager that it’s the same deal all over North America) and looted the shelves bare.
There’s only one thing left. Netflix or other online content providers. We’re mainlining their slim offings like junkies, reveling in the ability to pick a title and kick back with the popcorn without having to leave the comforts of our homes. I can see the appeal. I understand the urge. It’s about ease, choice and right now it’s pretty darned cheap. But there’s a worrisome side to downloading movies, something you might want to seriously consider before abandoning the last lone vigilante video hut that stands out there on a sparsely populated main street.
(What has happened to main street shops where real folks interacted with one another is a rumination for another time. And don’t kid yourself you mall rats, your idea of shopping nirvana is on the chopping block too.)
First off – true choice will be gone. Imagine a time in the future, and btw that time is now, you want to watch Sunset Boulevard. Sorry, they don’t have it. What if you wanted to show your kids The Wizard of Oz for the very first time, or share the still unbelievably appealing original Star wars trilogy? Nada. Don’t got em.
What about Network or Dead Poet’s Society? And E.T.? Hey, he can’t phone home. At least not from Netflix in Canada.
I went through the American Film Institute’s compilation of the top 100 films ever made. And if films keep disappearing at the rate they are, all the magnificent films on that list will end up as so much dust in our collective consciousness. Those films that helped shaped the popular culture of the 20th century will all be gone, along with our memory of them.
No more Bogey saying “Here’s looking at you kid” or Charlton Heston demanding “Get your stinkin hands off me you dirty ape.”
Listen up! Please listen. At the very least, demand that Netflix starts giving Canadians access to their American library, which is infinitely better.
I’m visiting every video store I see going out of business and buying whatever I can afford. I want a library. I want a movie memory. I will continue to always visit those brave local video stores who somehow keep their doors open, and I ask you to do the same thing too.
In the future, many people might never be exposed to the enormous wealth of what was surely the greatest art form of the 20th century – the motion picture.
Do you want to lose access to it? Do you really?
Get as Obsessed as Howard Beale in Network back in 1976.
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”