One man’s wave of the future is his son’s antiquarian curio. Even “Victrola” once meant hi-fi.
Blockbuster shuttered all of its remaining storefronts this week. Appropriately, the last movie rental—near closing time at a Hawaiian outlet—was the apocalyptic comedy This Is the End. Surely the credits roll on video-rental shops.
Unlike Circuit City or Eastern Airlines, the decline of Blockbuster had less to do with the flaws in the company than with trends in society. In this sense, its disappearance evokes the loss of Borders (illiteracy), Tower Records (online shoplifting), and KB Toys (abortion). The customer isn’t always right.
Blockbuster opened in Dallas in 1985, when the idea of borrowing a VHS tape for a night of home viewing seemed an upgrade over the inconvenience, sticky floors, and extortionate pricing of a night at the movies. Like the Walkman or the Atari 2600—two other booming ’80s products—Blockbuster was damned by the evolving technology that initially blessed it.