To My Fellow Redbox Customers With Whom I Share Disc-Renting Privileges:
Hello. You don’t know me . . .
. . . although with some training in dermatoglyphics, and access to an appropriate database, I probably could know you, because you’ve left these all over the back of the DVD I just rented:
Now, I’m a simple man.
Most days, I don’t ask for much. About once a week, when my girlfriend and I have movie night, we often partake of the wondrously convient technology that is Redbox.
I grew up during the home video boom. I didn’t have a Betamax , but under the right circumstances, I could have. (Well, if my parents weren’t the type to put off any type of consumer electronics purchase until it was so ubiquitous that the neighbors would start to talk amongst themselves because we were literally the only house on the block not to have one. Remote control for the television? Until I was about ten years old, this was how my old man did a work-around for that feature: )
Back in the day, kids, we not only walked uphill both ways to school in the middle of blizzards (which often caught us by complete surprise because we also didn’t have the Weather Channel, which, comparatively speaking, has a more advanced radar system today than NORAD did back then), but we also didn’t have 24-hour access to entertainment, especially movies.
We did have cable and HBO, but back then, HBO only had a partial daily programming schedule and about six movies that played in steady rotation for an entire month. While it is a very unscientific calculation, based on my memory of the era, I’m pretty certain five out of every six films on HBO during the 1980s starred Michael Keaton in a comedic role.
Two out of those five on any given day were Mr. Mom, and an encore presentation of Mr. Mom.
So when VCRs came along, and local establishments actually began renting VHS movies, that was a true cultural renaissance. If you showed up too late on a Saturday evening and everyone snagged all the new releases, you might end up choosing between . . . Mr. Mom, Gung Ho, or Johnny Dangerously, (never Night Shift, ain’t no way you were sneaking a movie featuring prostitutes under Mom’s moral radar, even if it did have the Fonz) but dammit, at least you had a choice.
Take that, you HBO programming fascists.
With that cinematically-deprived, technologically-deficient background, you can see the allure of an automated box that spits out movies on tiny metallic silver discs like they were as common and mundane of an object as a can of Pepsi.
And, it NEVER CLOSES. As a teenager, to me, Redbox would have fell somewhere between the potential jaw-dropping awesomeness of tomorrow held by the Jetsons and the Holodeck from Star Trek: TNG.
Jetpacks, flying bubble cars, and robot maids? Completely frivolous. This was the future all the science-fiction writers had promised us.
Now, I do have access to several different ways to digitally — and legally — download films on my Xbox 360 and PS3 to watch on my television. But while the past, younger me might have been completely thrilled with that even more instant gratification, the present / future / older me finds the excessive cost involved — usually two to three times what the same film goes for on Redbox — a turn-off. Convienence does have its price, and I’m not sure I’m willing to pay it.
This past weekend, my girlfriend Jen and I snagged copies of Looper and ParaNorman from a Redbox. (This is the secret to a successful relationship, by the way: everyone gets to see the movie they want. Compromise is overrated. Efficient time-management is a better skill to cultivate. Also, if we only have time for one movie and it’s my turn to pick and it ends up sucking, that little black mark works against me the next time movie night rolls around and I’ve got to pay off the poor choice with accrued interest. Thanks almost single-handedly to the Resident Evil franchise, I have had to watch films that I normally wouldn’t bother with even if it were the last DVD in the bunker after the zombie apocalypse broke out. I am slightly embarrassed to have to share a planet with Russell Brand, let alone sit through his mangling of Arthur. Jen feels much the same way about Milla Jovovich, so fair’s fair. )
Jen popped the ParaNorman disc into my Xbox, and I selected play DVD from the menu.
BONUS SIDE-RANT: Thanks to the genius at Microsoft who designed that fantastic Windows 8esque Xbox Dashboard UI that looks like someone’s smartphone projectile vomited onto my TV screen, and for reconfiguring EVERY. SINGLE. XBOX. APP. so it’s much more difficult to manipulate now with the standard controller. I know: everything’s better with Kinect. I have but one gesture to show your lousy ADD-approved UI and overpriced magic future camera, and . . . well, I believe the Man in Black stated it best, and I hope both the Kinect software and Microsoft marketing executives can recognize it:)
The screen faded to black. The DVD drive started to whirr, and . . .
Well, from the sound of it, the console was trying its best to eat its own plastic and silicon innards.
If you’ve been an Xbox 360 early adopter, then noises like that get directly associated with this image that haunts your subconscious:
Luckily, it wasn’t the RROD, just the fact that the back of the DVD was . . .
I didn’t think to snap a picture of it, but imagine, if you will, holding a DVD, shiny blank side facing you, maybe eight or ten inches away from your face.
And then, while you’re still holding the disc aloft, this unexpectedly happens:
Wipe your nose on your sleeve, put the now-goobered DVD back in the Redbox case, and happily slot it into the machine for the next poor sucker to deal with.
At the very least you could grab a Sharpie and give me a quick hand-drawn heads-up.
I was able to get the DVD free from . . . debris . . . and after that initial hazmat clean-up, it worked fine. ParaNorman was a fantastic flick that was, ultimately, well worth the hassle.
(Looper, BTW, is awesome, as well, and had not a single mark upon it. Although that may have just been due to it being a very recent release that the McSlobbersons had not yet gotten their grubby, unwashed mitts upon.)
That was not the first time my movie watching experience has been sullied due to people’s inability to handle a communally shared DVD properly — or being able to follow the simple instructions of how to clean the disc if they can’t — but it was certainly the most egregious (not to mention gross).
Usually, though, it’s just fingerprints that cause the disc to freeze or skip and force me to eject it, clean it, and with no small amount of cursing, try to find my way back to the same point in the movie that I left off.
This happens often enough you would think that I’d start to glance at the back of the Redbox-acquired DVDs before putting them into the Xbox, but it rarely crosses my mind, mostly because I have the presence of mind and the basic motor skills to place a DVD in a tray without turning it into a record of every single one of my fingerprints.
Now, given that ParaNorman is a movie that might appeal to a younger audience, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt that whatever it was on the back of that disc was the result of a child who might not know better that you shouldn’t place viscous bodily fluids directly on to objects, especially those which do not actually belong to you.
That’s a lesson that sometimes comes along a little later in life for some of us, I suppose.
One some of us, sadly, never learn, much to our detriment.
I don’t have kids. But I fully support those who do, if parenting is your thing. If you’re renting them a quality film like ParaNorman to watch, more power to you. Even more so if they’ve got their own TV and DVD player and you trust them to be responsible enough to operate it on their own volition.
But let’s do everyone in the Redbox user community a favor. If they look like this at the outset of movie night:
Then after you’re done hosing down the family room, and before you pop it back into the case and drop it off:
That’s all I’m asking. I’m not judging you as a parent, or your
filthy little germ-laden rugmonkeys kids, just be considerate of others. The instructions are right there on the box.
I tried for a good hour or so to come up with a catchy little tagline that was the DVD equivalent of the old VHS adage, ‘Be kind, rewind’, but even with the help of various rhyming dictionaries, I couldn’t come up with anything memorable.
It’s not easy to find something simple and direct that also rhymes with ‘slob’.
Well, I guess that just about wraps up this rant. As rants go, I suppose it does seem to fall under the ‘trite’ category, but if it ever happens to you, trust me . . . it’s snot.
In closing, fellow Redboxer, I wish you the best, and hope that the next time you’re at a Redbox that you, like this young lady, pick yourself a real winner.
Just wash your hands before you watch, k?
Thanks for stopping by Public Domain. High-concept, yet ultra-ultra low budget, straight to the internet writing at it’s finest. In a world gone mad, we’re the feel-good, action-packed, roll-your-eyes-out-loud, meme-laden romantic action horror suspense historical comedy-drama of the year!
Too bad it’s only early January.
But just listen to what others have to say about Public Domain:
” Like every other self-indulgent amatuerish attempt at humor online. ” — Rolling Stone
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” Worst blog ever. This authorship is NOT magic. ” — Brony Review
” I was looking for nasty, dirty, wet memes and got this dumb Hobbit thing instead. ” — Random Google User
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