Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Good-bye Yellow Brick Video Store

This concludes the list of movies I plan on watching over the course of the next five years.

While trying to come up with something to write to accompany each chunk of th movie list, I started thinking about how much Netflix keeps me out of the brick-and-mortar video stores. The last time I was in one, it wasn’t for renting a movie; it was being an extra in a short film. During the shoot, I had a chance to talk to the video store manager about business, especially business after Netflix. He said that cable and satellite affect his business more than Netflix does. He also said that he can tell every night the cable goes out, because his store is packed. I’m glad he still has his livelihood, but as far as I’m concerned, I will not be much of a customer.

To be completely honest, there is nothing fun about going to the video store for me. Having been on the other side of the counter, the experience only reminds me of hard work and sleepless nights. Walking down the aisles, all I can think of is display assembly, box art, and film classification. Did they group by genre or by actor/director? Is a film like 2001 in the Ts or is it placed before the alphabet? Which titles are spine-facing and which ones are front-facing?

When you make a job out of something you love, you are setting yourself up for all kinds of hurt, because income generation is all about taking and love is all about giving. Why do you think movie or music store clerks are such bitter people?

One of the funniest scenes in the movie “High Fidelity” is the one where the sales clerks show up and do their jobs on their days off. This really happens all of the time. People are willing to do the job for free, and if the workforce wants to volunteer for the position, wages are driven down. Movies teach us all to live our dreams, but very few of them cover basic supply and demand.

It continually surprises me how much people tended to glamorize the video store. Day in and day out, at least one customer would smile at me and say, “This must be great – you get paid to watch movies all day long.” For the most part, it was a miserable existence. The view of humanity from the video store manager’s perspective is a limited and skewed one at best. Whenever someone says, “I want to see the manager,” it is not to give the manager a kiss on the cheek.

Plus, video stores attract crazies like nobody’s business. There are some genuine crazy-crazy people who like to hang out in shopping malls, but there are plenty of entertainment-crazy people,too.

For example, I was once approached by a guy who wanted me to hire him to be Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here was his pitch – He would dress up as Data and hang out in the Star Trek section, and people would ask him questions about Star Trek and he would answer them… as Data! My counter proposal was this – he could be a regular part time clerk, staffed on nights and weekends for about 8 to 12 hours a week. One night a month, he could do his Data routine. But as Data, he would still have to file and shelve videos. He couldn’t just stand around and talk to customers as Data. He didn’t like this idea, but was willing to talk about it. That is… until we got around to wages. He wanted $25 an hour. I explained to him that the clerks made straight minimum wage and managers (like me) only made $10 to $12 an hour. There was no way we could afford him. There was no way ANY video store could afford him.

“But- but I NEED $25 an hour… The make-up costs money!” he sputtered.

Part of me wanted to go, “Oh, the make up! THAT changes everything!” but instead I pelted him with the type of verbal bile normally reserved for Holiday Shopping season.

Thank you, Netflix, for giving me a reason never to go back to a video store ever again.

Currently in the Rentlist Word document:

  • Intermission
  • Tanner on Tanner
  • Maria, Full of Grace
  • Code 46
  • King of Kings
  • The Killing
  • Lavender Hill Mob
  • Kensey
  • Finding Neverland
  • Hotel Rwanda
  • Smile
  • Judgment at Nurenberg
  • Marlene Dietrich: In Her Own Song
  • The Caine Mutiny
  • Dark Passage
  • The Petrified Forest
  • Angels with Dirty Faces
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • Mister Roberts
  • I was a Male War Bride
  • Hitari!
  • Only Angels Have Wings
  • Red River
  • Monkey Business
  • Barbary Coast
  • The Villain
  • Paris holiday
  • Faster
  • Speaking in Strings
  • Paradise Lost 2
  • Tideland
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Sarah Silverman
  • My Summer of Love
  • Broken Flowers
  • Munich
  • Everything is Illuminated
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • MI: III
  • Cache
  • Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
  • Neil Young: Heart of Gold
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  • Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes
  • Walkabout
  • Fever Pitch
  • Inside Deep Throat
  • The Revolution will not be televised
  • Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
  • Uber Goober
  • So Wrong They’re Right
  • Mysterious Skin
  • Double Dare
  • On the Waterfront
  • My Man Godfrey
  • The Gods Must be Crazy
  • How to Irritate People
  • Pickup on South Street
  • Kiss Me Deadly
  • Milagro Beanfield War
  • My Architect
  • Saint Ralph
  • Oklahoma!
  • Audition
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • 1776
  • Night and Fog
  • Jabberwocky
  • Casino Royale
  • The Big Red One
  • Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice
  • Four Seasons
  • Morning After
  • Shivers
  • Haxan
  • Shadowlands
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • F for Fake
  • Journey of Nattie Gann
  • The War Within
  • Wolf Man
  • Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Your Friends & Neighbors
  • Battle Angel
  • The Front Page
  • The Fighting Sullivans
  • The Blue Angel
  • The Kid
  • Out of the Past
  • Sweet Smell of Success
  • Steamboat Bill, Jr.
  • Only Angels Have Wings
  • Meet John Doe
  • Open City
  • Artists and Models
  • Mogambo
  • Othello
  • Twentieth Century
  • Gloria
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Laura
  • The Crowd
  • The Rules of the Game
  • The Merry Widow
  • Holiday
  • Aguirre: The Wrath of God
  • Nosferatu
  • Woyzeck
  • Fitzcarraldo
  • Cobra Verde
  • My Best Fiend

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