Remember when you could wander the aisles of a video store aimlessly in search of something to kill two hours of your Friday night?
Well, those days still exist. Only now you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
That’s right, online streaming services like Netflix and iTunes — although revolutionary and convenient — have become as cluttered with options as the friendly neighbourhood rental outlets of yesteryear.
I never realized just how many movies, documentaries and TV shows are on Video-on-Demand until last Friday night. For the first time since our son was born I had a couple of hours with no commitments, so I decided to watch a movie.
But what to watch?
Granted, a decision is easier to make when one knows what he or she is in the mood for. Beyond something mind numbing, I didn’t. So I clicked on Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
No, this movie nerd hadn’t watched the latest exercise in Baytainment (the word us geeks use to describe the unique work of director Michael Bay). Why? Because the last Transformers movie was terrible and I refuse to be fooled twice.
I made it exactly 20 minutes. Even the vapid beauty of lingerie model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wasn’t enough to keep me watching and I’m THAT guy! My few remaining brain cells are too valuable to waste on jive-talking robots and Shia LeBeouf.
Next up, Hypothermia. This low-budget creature feature stars The Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker, an always-reliable movie tough guy and character actor.
Although intriguing, I usually watch two movies like this a week for the radio show I co-host on 92.5FM CFBX and sticking with it would have felt too much like work. I moved on.
For the next hour I bounced from Deadline (boring thriller) to Captain America (seen it) to the new Star Trek (seen it 15 times) to something that was so bad the name escapes me.
Finally, I settled on the latest episode of Harper’s Island, which has already insulted my intelligence for six episodes so I didn’t see the harm in one more. At least its serial-killer-in-a-soap-opera plot keeps me entertained.
It became clear to me just how disposable our entertainment has become. Growing up, Kamloops had the Paramount twin theatre downtown and a drive-in. That’s right, a drive-in.
The drive-in, which was located where the south parking lot of Northills Mall now rests, was replaced with the Northills Theatre. It to is now a parking lot.
We also had a fourplex Cineplex Odeon on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Victoria Street. It’s been empty for the better part of a decade because of the eight-theatre Odeon at Aberdeen Mall. In a twist of irony, that theatre was built on a parking lot.
When I was kid, you had seven options to choose from if you wanted to go to the movies. That’s it. Just pick one. As the number of theatres expanded, so did the list of movies released each week. More movies are made now then ever before. What comes to Kamloops barely scratches the surface.
As the home-video market grew, so did our choices. There are movies being made strictly for the DVD/Blu-ray market.
The trend hasn’t stuck with film. TV can now be watched on demand and, as discussed in a previous column, entire series are created just for sites like Netflix. There are even portals like Steam that offer video games.
Add to that music, fast food and mobile devices that become obsolete within two years and not only does our entertainment seem disposable, but our society as well.
Attention spans are short because there is so much stuff vying for our consideration. We don’t need to stick with anything because there’s always something else to quickly replace it.
There’s no way this trend will end. We’ve become used to instant content and lots of it. Eventually we’re going to drown beneath this seas of choices and, in the end, we’ll have lost something of ourselves in the tsunami of selection.
In the meantime, I need to figure out what I’m going to watch tonight.