Blockbuster's final stand: the lost charm of physical media

The last of anything can be profoundly sad. Dodo birds. Mohicans. Starfighters. To that end, we're down to one Blockbuster Video. First of all — what? How can there still be a Blockbuster in business? According to WaPo, the last one on Earth is hanging on in Bend, OR. 

As a chain, Blockbuster peaked in 2004, when there were 9,000 locations worldwide. The company has shut down thousands of locations over the years, making the Bend Blockbuster the last [one]…

This story gave me a nostalgia wave — not for a hazy, idealized idea of my youth, but specifically a world where putting some effort into watching something gave it value, made it special. This writer gets it:

My family used to go to Blockbuster every Friday. Walking to the store on 19th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan, we'd wander through the aisles of DVDs, negotiating what to rent for our weekly ritual of making pizzas and watching movies, and I'd try to sweet-talk my way into a Nerds Rope or a box of watermelon Sour Patch Kids.

This is how great memories are made, not scrolling through a menu of 15,000 titles and then watching parts of five different things. 

And this really got me thinking about what's been lost. What we've gained in convenience has come at really high cost — the ability to watch anything at any time has crushed the inherent specialness of movies and TV shows. 

Indulge me a quick story: when I was a kid, my father's favorite movie was The Ladykillers, a 1955 black comedy starring Alec Guiness. The only way to see it was to wait for it to appear on TV. One Saturday night, it aired on WGN. At 2:30 am!  Middle of the night. I had a movie buff friend sleep over, my whole family woke up, made popcorn, enjoyed the movie, went back to bed. Magic. Memories. Not an experience remotely possible in the streaming age.

I fear something's been lost that we can never get back.

Previously: Only one Blockbuster Video Store left standing