In the video rental system, the people are divided into two separate yet equally important groups: the people who hire the movies and the customer service representatives who tolerate them. These are their stories.
1999 was a great year. The Sopranos premiered on HBO. The millennium bug was a thing. The last episode of Hey Hey It’s Saturday aired… And DVD’s were slowly making their way into video shops across the country.
The first two DVD movies we got at my particular video store were the original Matrix and the (at the time hilarious) Austin Powers – Spy Who Shagged Me. Of course, we only got three DVD copies of each title to the 50+ VHS* copies, but it was a start.
I can remember working one night when a lady came in upset that she’d not been able to watch the Matrix. I played the part of the sympathetic video store clerk and tried to figure out why.
Her: Excuse me, I’m returning this DVD of the Matrix but I wasn’t able to watch it. I’m fuming, it was meant to be for a kids sleep over but we couldn’t watch it so I’d like a refund.
Me: Oh, I am sorry to hear that. What was the issue? Was the disk scratched?
Me: Was it jumping & skipping?
Her: Wouldn’t know, couldn’t play it.
Me: So it just wouldn’t load at all?
Her: Nah, no one said I had to have a DVD player to play it, did they.
Me: … Um … You don’t own a DVD player?
Her: S’what I said.
Me: Yet you hired a DVD?
Her: Yeah… so?
Me: … Do you have a VHS?
Her: You being a smart-arse? Of course I have a VHS player.
It was about then I realised most people are idiots, and I’ve never looked back.
We all know the rest of the story, quite quickly DVD over took the VHS as the dominant home entertainment medium and within my 7 year stint at the video shop I saw the VHS become extinct. I had left before Bluray was introduced but I like to think that that same woman went through the same ordeal all over again only this time with a bluray disk… if her VHS wouldn’t play a DVD why would she think it would it play a Bluray?
*Sorry, to those younger readers, VHS were what movies came on before DVD. Think of a big cassette**.
**Sorry, cassettes were what music was played on before CD’s. They had like a ribbon of film*** inside.
***Film is like the stuff that that cameras used to take photographs on before they went digital.