And then, thanks to some good old American ingenuity (or maybe it was Japanese ingenuity) we were presented with the VCR. Suddenly, movies were available on video tapes! We no longer had to rely on the whims of the theater owners and television networks. We could go to a video store and rent the movies we wanted to see.
Video rental stores popped up everywhere. Grocery stores joined in, and along with your eggs and milk you could bring home a copy of Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, or Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
It looked like the reign of the video stores would last forever. And then, it didn't. Netflix and Hulu and the preponderance of television channels made it so you could watch just about any movie any time you want without leaving the comfort of your own couch.
Now, the video stores are gone. All that remains in their place are a scattering of glorified vending machines known as the Redbox.
|The Redbox, known for its wide variety of choices and great personal service.|
At the video store, there were thousands of movies to choose from. At the Redbox, there are a few dozen. (Good luck finding The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes.)
At the video store, you could look at the back cover of the video box to see a plot synopsis, see who was starring in the movie, and find out what it was rated. At the Redbox, you get to see the name of the movie and the picture from the front of the box.
At the video store, you could browse for hours. At the Redbox, you can look for a minute.
At the video store, if you wanted to take your time you could. At the Redbox, if someone is behind you, you'll need to hurry up so they can have their turn.
At the video store, if someone in front of you was dawdling, you could just go to a different section of the store. At the Redbox, if someone in front of you is dawdling, you're out of luck. You'll just have to wait. You can step into their personal space and/or clear your throat loudly, but basically you'll have to wait until they are finished.
At the video store, there was lots of open space. At the Redbox, if someone is behind you, chances are they are standing too close, looking over your shoulder, and questioning your movie choices.
At the video store, you could often buy a soda and some Red Vines to make your video experience more like going to the movies. At the Redbox, it's already a vending machine, so you think they could figure some way to sell you a Coke and some Twizzlers along with your movie, but no one has come up with a way to do that yet.
At the video store, they had a special shelf featuring the recommendations of favorites from the store's staff. (That's if, of course, you gave a crap what a bunch of teenage video store employees think.) At the Redbox, you might be able to figure out which movie is most popular based on the number of fingerprints on the picture of the movie on the front of the vending machine.
And speaking of fingerprints, at the video store, if your video doesn't play correctly, you can take it back and get a refund. At the Redbox, sometimes there are so many fingerprints on the DVD that it skips more than a 1950s schoolgirl. And there's nothing you can do about it.
So, no, the Redbox experience is not ideal. But, that's okay, because the Redbox will soon be as obsolete as the video stores. The digital services are here to stay, and they are the best way to watch a movie. Just choose whatever movie you want, then order it and watch it from the convenience of your own couch.
It's perfect! It beats the video store and Redbox experiences, and there's absolutely nothing (...buffering...buffering...buffering...buffering...) that we can complain about.