When I passed what once was the windows of my local video store, I noticed a despondent frown surging from the dusty shelves. A gesture so unforgiving, it practically screamed, Why did you do this to me? I rode away, shaking my head in dismay at what has now become the end of my beloved DVD rental days.
It goes without saying that this is clearly a given outcome of our society’s rising obsession with technology. First CDs got kicked in the butt, now full-length movies are being crammed into the jumbled search boxes of Smart TV applications for a mere £2.50. Possibly a similar price as what Blockbuster used to offer, but there is a notable difference in the experience of the purchase. I cannot imagine that Blinkbox, Netflix, or other online services will ever offer the one quality that distinctly separates the digital world from the tangible: the presence of human character.
…you could ask an employee for their honest recommendation…
Now, I’m not trying to sound archaic and admittedly I have made my fair share of iTunes downloads. But what I loved about our little local Blockbuster is that when you tossed back and forth between choosing a new release or Saturday-night guilty pleasure, you could ask an employee for their honest recommendation, or lack of. Although some of the staff may not have the same status as renowned film critics, it often made such a difference to my movie choice and rental experience to immediately receive another person’s genuine opinion, without having to search Rotten Tomatoes for a rating. We need to look at where we’re currently placing our values: a more personal shopping experience versus one that just simply saves time.
And where does this leave the film industry? It may be the case that both Blockbuster and Blinkbox offer the same price for their merchandise, but I can’t fathom the strenuous impact that online piracy has imposed on the film economy. Sure, advertising always brings in skip-loads of cash, but is it fair that committed cinema audiences have to cough up more dough in order to watch a film that their counterparts are currently streaming from some fishy website?
…correcting or improving our lives…
As a young person, I am frequently targeted as being both a culprit and insinuator of the modern technology craze. This is understandable, but some may find it surprising that in some respects I wish that there were fewer instances in which the digital sheen has glossed our vision with an intangible promise of correcting or improving our lives. I admit I was excited about receiving my first flip-phone and iPod Nano when I was 13, but a large portion of my childhood still recalls road trips filled with blasting tattered Bryan Adams CDs.
What can we do about it? Support art that fuels the human experience: live theatre, film festivals, concerts, exhibition talks. The more we inject living character into creative expression, the more we keep art thriving and transferable for future generations.