Today, in one of my English Literature seminars, we were watching video clips of different versions of Hamlet and one of them featured Ethan Hawke in Blockbuster, bizarrely. Now I know I was meant to be concentrating on the famous soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’, however all that I was focussing on were the VHS cases that read ‘Blockbuster’ in thick block capitals. A flood of nostalgia came rushing back and I remembered the trips my Dad, myself and a friend or two would take to Blockbuster on a Saturday evening. It was an event in itself. We would all bundle into the car and head to the nearest store, and then split up on a hunt around Blockbuster to find one or two of the DVDs we were hoping to rent for the evening. Sometimes, all the copies were taken and that altered the plan slightly, so we decided to hire another film altogether. It was great, it was my childhood. If it was a Blockbuster trip with just my parents, then a serious amount of compromise ensued. I wanted a scary movie, my Mum definitely did not. Eventually, we would get one suitable for them, and one that I could enjoy. With the DVDs in hand, it was now time to plead for a bag of toffee popcorn or a deliciously tempting tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Finally, we were ready to go home and enjoy our movies together on the sofa.
I think there are still a few Blockbusters around, but a lot of them have vanished. It’s inevitable, with movies so easily (illegally or legally) downloadable on computers in a matter of seconds, that people are eventually going to get fed up of getting into their cars and driving to the store to rent movies. We like hassle-free everything, and if we can get a movie at the click of a button – or, for that matter, delivered through our letter box each week through services such as Love Film – then sooner or later there isn’t going to be a need for Blockbuster. And that makes me sad, because I’d all but forgotten about Blockbuster. Forgotten about something that was almost a tradition in our family – to go and rent DVDs for the weekend each Saturday. I think that when I go home for Christmas next week, I’m going to ask my Dad if we can pop to Blockbuster at some point during the holiday and relive our tradition. We’ll argue in the aisles and leave with popcorn aplenty and, if we’re lucky, a scary film or two.