Friday, October 14, 2005

Goldie Hawn-y, Chevy Chase-y

"What's new that's good that's in?"
I spent many a Friday night listening patiently to that question. I used to work in a video store, and I became very well acquainted with the general public's taste (or lack thereof) when it came to a weekend's entertainment. I should point out that I entered the world of video rentals in the dark days of the first Republican regime, before the Clone Wars, before Blocks were Busted. We even rented Beta back then.
We had two-tier pricing back in those days: you could get a membership and rent movies for three dollars apiece, or go the non-member route and pay five bucks a flick. The savings over just a couple of months made it obvious to just about everyone that you'd have to be a major-league ninny not to have a membership. If you were a member, you could reserve movies up to a week in advance. Oh yes, membership definitely had its privileges.
Working at a video store had its privileges too. I watched movies for days at a time that I might never have had the time to see. I instituted "Theme Sundays" during which we would select a group of films that were organized around some specific (and usually arbitrary) connection. We had "Giant Rubber Monster Day," "Pets That Kill," and my personal favorite: "Sweaty Sunday" - featuring "Cool Hand Luke," "Das Boot" and as much of "Body Heat" as we could get away with playing in the store.
It wasn't all fun and games, though. Trying to explain to a customer why we couldn't go out and hunt down the guy who had kept our only copy of "Strawberry Shortcake's Holiday Surprise." Keeping a straight face as the elderly gentleman asks you for a "classy porno." Listening patiently to a mother explain over the phone that the VCR that we had rented to her wasn't working - only to find out that she had neglected to connect it to her television set. On second thought, maybe it was all fun and games.
I worked with a group of people who knew a lot about movies and knew what they liked. I had a lot of great discussions about some great films, and some great discussions about some really bad films. I liked nothing more than seeing a customer come back the next day to tell me how much they enjoyed the movie I made them take home the night before.
Things have changed mightily since then. We don't have discussions with video clerks, and if you can use Netflix you can avoid the clerks completely. The commentary tracks on DVDs do the work that we used to do. All the "didja know" stuff is now part of the public domain. You don't even have to be a member of the club.

1 comment:

michelle said...

"I'm looking for something zany! I have to laugh! Ordinary Peepholes?"
"It's a big titty, spread cheeky kind of thing."
Hehe, I now own the Fisher King! Yay!