It was sad to read about the imminent demise of Aro Video. In a sense it wasn’t news, I’m a regular customer. I’m there several times a week – it’s near my doorstep, I know the owner, I know the staff, they’ve told me times are tough and business is hard work; a lot of people will already be laughing at the very idea of DVD rentals in 2015.
But we’re allowed to show concern for such institutions – however clever you might be with your early-adopter forward-thinking. There’s no one rule, you can mix and match, surely. I watch some things online, plenty of things – actually – I’m sent screener links and screener discs, I have a Netflix account, but I still rent DVDs. I’m sent links and albums but I still buy CDs, though more often I buy LPs. I read from a Kindle – a lot of the time. But I still buy books. There doesn’t have to be one answer, one out-with-the-old/in-with-the new strategy.
Plenty of people will be lining up to talk about outdated models, the outmoding of ideas, but there’s an ugly tone to that. You’re not owed a job, nor job security, no one is – ultimately – but we can still reflect on the value of recommending skills, on the idea of visiting a place, an actual space, where like-minded folks share ideas. Sure, it’s a business – a store wants to make money, needs to in fact. Couldn’t in this case. But these places are homes to so many great things.
I’ve worked in music retail, I’ve been a bookseller – a couple of times. I’ve worked in a video store, actually it was just as VHS was being replaced by DVD (yes, that long ago) and I met – and made – friends with co-workers and customers in all of those jobs. My first gig in a music-store job and my only time behind the counter in a video-store fall into that cliché of “Dream Job” – for the time. I was, in both cases, a customer first. I remained a customer after. I was lucky to have a chance to work in a field I was interested in. In a store I loved.
Aro Video has been important to me for a bunch of reasons. I fleetingly helped out with writing a few promotional reviews for their website. I rented videos there when I first moved to Wellington. It was the port of call when I needed teaching aids for ideas when I tutored and guest-lectured a university paper.
It was always the go-to place for Foreign Films, for the music documentaries you heard about – but never found elsewhere. Its “Cult” section was – and is – legendary.
In recent years it’s been a place to visit, to find what I didn’t know I needed…
Some mornings I’ll wait for it to open. Some nights I walk the disc back straight after I’ve watched it.
If I’m running short of material I can find something at Aro to take home and watch and review (even if I wished, after – or during – that I had not bothered).
Other times I’ve found things I’d only heard about previously. Or I’ve scooped up movies to re-watch. Favourites that were almost forgotten.
I told my four year old son that “the movie store” might be closing soon, forever. He cried. By the time we made it to the supermarket he had “a plan”. Exiting the car he told me, “I know – we’ll just go there and get loads and loads and loads and loads of movies. And then…we’ll do it again!” I told him that we kinda had been doing that. That it clearly required more than just us.
We’re a passionless bunch though. Aren’t we. It’s always the end of f**king days when we – finally – hear about something. The video store/INSTITUTION is closing. The long-form current events TV journalism has been killed, the sub-editors are going, going, gone – the writers left in the newspaper offices can just take the photos on their smart-phones because due to dumb-moves we don’t really need the trained photographers. Not anymore. That skill went out the window when everything went digital, when everything became available for everyone to do. Have a go at, anyway.
John Campbell’s show was killed off. And when we heard it was going – suddenly everyone cared. But how many of those ranting and reposting on Facebook and Twitter would admit that they tuned out and turned off years ago.
And we deserve what we get. And what we’ve lost. And all that we’re losing.
And it’s always sad. And every time someone says that, or something like it, approaching it, aiming for it, there’s a bunch of the Very Clever there, on hand, ready, willing – and able (enabled) to comment…telling anyone else they’re dreamers. The schemers are killing off the dreamers. Doing it with whatever resembles correct spelling – and the power of a button.
We’re not allowed to even be gutted about anything anymore because that’s, apparently, some strange, sad weakness. We can be outraged. Absolutely, But we can’t really care.
I was proud to have a four year old that recognised some sadness in a crucial element of the community we live in closing down. Even if it’s just because of one particularly horrific Bananas in Pyjamas DVD he’s fond of. At least I spot, there, passion! At least he has that going for him. Whatever else I’ve inflicted on him…when he’s old enough he can blog about the other issues, if the platform is still there. If anyone is likely to care.
This originally appeared as part of Blog On The Tracks at Stuff.co.nz and is reposted here simply to try to share it around and get it seen/read again…