Last weekend we tried to watch a movie -- we tried Netflix, but everything on instant that day seemed to have the production quality and narrative values of a chaste, low budget porno. Redbox and Amazon were the same. Our computer smugly told us that renting a movie from iTunes would be impossible due to our hard-drives being too full. We refused to download an illegal film not so much because of the ethical repercussions as our inability to navigate our way to virus-free streaming.
So, we did not watch a movie. Somehow, in this time of unprecedented progress in technology we have destroyed all means of watching a movie of our choice at home. In an effort to minimize our effort, we have inadvertently ridden ourselves of something more valuable than a few dollars and a little time: the freedom to choose what we watch.
Instead of making movies watching free, easy, and available we have made it illegal, difficult, and inconvenient. We have put video stores out of business and left no equivalent alternatives in their place. Now Lost Weekend Video, one of the last movie rental businesses in the Bay Area, is fighting to keep its doors open. If you love movies, freedom, America, or grandiose declarations, help save Lost Weekend.
Lost Weekend is an independently owned movie rental store and comedy venue with a collection of thousands of VHS, DVD and Blu-ray titles. Membership is free, the people who work there are awesome, and the '80s flair and independent ownership it boasts are becoming sadly unique to Lost Weekend as the Mission becomes more upscale.
Lost Weekend (1034 Valencia) will not survive without radical changes. One hope is that the video store will be able to share space with another local business to make pricy rentals in the Mission district more affordable, as Le Video did recently with Green Apple Books.
But the option most of us can joyfully take part in is easy: Rent more movies. Instead of being restricted to would-be Blockbuster duds on the Netflix list of "Top Picks for You," go choose your own top picks from a list of thousands. Instead of pressing the play button praying you're not about to download the heartbleed virus onto your computer, just press play.
Most people don't get to be heroes in the conventional way. We don't often save lives or avert disaster, we just get to watch people doing it on screen. We have a rare opportunity to help an iconic local business survive, and help ourselves watch a documentary other than that one that one about Chipotle keeps popping up on Netflix. Yes, you watching the third season of Friends: hero status.