Thursday, November 7, 2013

11.7.13 Bee-otch of the Day: Blockbuster

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Name: Blockbuster
Age: 28
Occupation: video rental chain
Last Seen: Englewood, CO
Bee-otched For: dying a pitiful death


Blockbuster, we hardly knew ye.

Growing up in northern Michigan, it was almost amazing that Blockbuster didn't even make it up north until the late 90's when Dave Sheppe decided to transition his Horizon Video chain to all Blockbusters. The switchover didn't last too long, though, as in the early 2000's, all northern Michigan Blockbusters closed and Sheppe decided to invest in a chain of restaurants that serve pie.

And the investment was a good one.

It was announced yesterday that Dish Network was closing all remaining Blockbuster Video stores and that the Blockbuster name would be retired once and for all. Once upon a time, Blockbuster was the cool video store in America in an age of VHS and Betamax and of course, "be kind, rewind". People would weather out into the open to get to a store to find a flick to watch that evening to kill two hours. However, those days are passed now since many Americans now have ways to watch movies at home without having to waste a drop on gas.

Looking back, I was happier to support the mom-n-pops over Blockbuster. I had an uncle that worked in the record business, and he vehemently barred his family from going there. He claimed that Michael Eisner, the former head of Disney and Blockbuster owner Wayne Huizenga had a phone fight, and in the end, Eisner uttered "those mafia bastards" under his breath. Now, I'm not positive if Blockbuster was a part of the mob themselves; Eisner could have meant "Dutch Mafia" since Huizenga is a Dutch man and had a religious upbringing. After all, his ala mater is the ultra-conservative Calvin College here in Grand Rapids. But bear in mind that Huizenga also once ran Waste Management, and according to my uncle, the trash business is one that nobody wants to be a part of, but there's a lot of dough in it. The same went with porn.

But, when it came to porn, Blockbuster didn't want a part of that, either.

Because of Huizenga's conservative leanings, Blockbuster never rented films NC-17 or higher. They even ordered the film Showgirls to be re-edited to an R-rating to keep up with its standards. Soft-core titles and unrated films, however, were OK.

Thankfully, Huizenga's control of Blockbuster didn't last long. He sold Blockbuster to Viacom in 1994, but they spun it off in 2004. In 2011, the chain was broke and Dish Network bought them out at auction. Now, the remaining 300 Blockbusters will close.

True, there's still some spots in America where video stores are still doing OK - mostly smaller, rural towns where broadband internet access is spotty to non-existent - but with the death of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery beforehand, there's no real reason to "be kind, rewind" anymore, or even pop a disc into a DVD or even Blu-Ray player. Everything's off the web now, and from the looks of things, it'll be the standard for years.

For the mom-n-pops that are still around and still doing well, they're the ones laughing. They don't have a stranglehold on distributors and they can rent out any porno they want. If they're still making money, good for them. But when the Redbox comes to town, they might end up pissing their pants.

But thankfully for them, they have porn.

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