It’s no secret that freaks can console themselves in more ways than ever before. So why go to a video store? So the freaks can huddle in a mass before scuttling off into their respective screen-lit corners, duh. Until such time that we can all download our consciousnesses like Johnny Depp or that one episode of X-files and therefore safely create virtual reality images of our fancy-ass dogs in Australia, we have to contend with the physical world, and keep our sense of history about the media that shapes in ways we forget or can’t conceive of.
Here in our particular watering hole, we’ve got four cooperative worker-owners manning the gates to the archives (Andy, Helen, Nick and me). Because we’re all film obsessed and have the perfect number of people for the classically balanced team, one of our favorite pastimes is to figure out who our corresponding characters are in famous movie and TV foursomes. Obviously this leads to heated arguments about who has to be Zeppo (Helen), who has enough weird habits to qualify as Kramer (Andy), who is sarcastic enough to truly hold a candle to Venkman (Nick) and who is pushy and likes blue enough to be Leonardo (me) and no end in sight on which Sex & The City characters we each can rightfully claim. Srsly tho, media shapes our worldviews and identities so much that some theorists have said that TV is the true American education system. And, especially in this streamlined world of Netflix and such, what really gets lost is the joy of discovery.
People more and more have the opportunity to ignore things they don’t want to see even though more information is readily available that ever before. How many people do you know that had their lives irrevocably altered by a movie? How are teenage freaks going to find out about John Waters and Giallo and nasty garbage like that? How will kids be freaked out by the cover for Alice, Sweet Alice so much that they still haven’t watched it as an adult (OK that one is just my personal experience)? Do we really want the younger generation to be streamlined into only what streaming services feel like paying for the rights to? Isn’t this what leads to condos going up in every fucking city in America?
So anyway, stop by your local video store while you still can, get some dirty discs, commune with your fellow maladjusted weirdos, and remember how even though the earth will probably boil over in the next fifty years because of unfettered capitalism married with subtle thought control, we can at least cackle and dance around the fire in the meantime.
Four Star Video Cooperative has been Madison’s favorite video store since 1985, and is now one of its newest cooperatives.