So, video stores are disappearing from the fabric of the urban environment. Now, I’m not talking about the Blockbusters and other such behemoth corporate presences, but the local, independent store staffed by undersexed and overachieving movie buffs. Much the same way that the video arcade – an institution much beloved during countless high school years if not for the games then at least for scoring some pot or LSD when your regular dealer was unavailable – has more or less vanished from local neighbourhoods, so too goes the video store.
It’s a shame actually.
A casualty of online movies, downloading, and let’s be honest, the boat loads of crap being hoisted on us by Hollywood these days, the local video store and the role it played in the integrity of a neighbourhood will be sorely missed. Not only were they places to browse the latest movie selections, they were places to connect with other locals; they were social spaces, community places. Something increasingly in short supply these days.
As more and more life, and indeed, socialising takes place in the ether of the interweb, we have fewer and fewer reasons or chances to actually be in the company of others. Sure, in the city, we are constantly surrounded by people, constantly in the company of others. But mostly we move through our public spaces, our sidewalks and street corners with only but the slightest of glances towards the others who surround us. In the video store we are browsing among others, but also, and more importantly, with others.
Someone to your left picks up a great flick wondering aloud if it’s any good. You look over, glance at the movie box then at your fellow searcher and you nod yes, “it’s a great movie.”
While seemingly this encounter is relatively minor, and video stores just seemingly so outdated, it this very contact that helps constitute what Jane Jacobs – that great seer of urban life – saw as ‘the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow’.
And they’re disappearing.
What part of the city, one wonders, also disappears with it?