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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

entry arrow10:50 PM | Gone, Video, Gone.

I just heard from a friend in Facebook that Video City is going the way of Blockbuster Video -- and is closing for good, at least in Dumaguete. News flies fast that way, on digital wings. So do the demise of old things. This video store in this tiny corner of the Twin Arcade Building -- that forlorn, misdesigned structure along Perdices Street -- contains so many memories for many people that news of its closing has become a little charged with nostalgia. It makes me ask: to what extent will the Internet [and digital culture] -- and it is the Internet that's the main culprit of many businesses closing up -- change much of our lives? What else will it obliterate?

I've always thought, given the digital reaches we can now do and go for, that the continued existence of video stores in this day and age is a little too ... superfluous. Even almost unnecessary. And I say this with such sadness. You see, I started my own film education in my youth with rented titles from video stores all over Dumaguete. I remember Midwest (now gone), Goodluck Store (now barely hanging on), and that videoshop at the bowels of Don Atilano that gave me my first glimpse at the films of Gregg Araki and other filmmakers of the New Queer Cinema. (Imagine that? New Queer Cinema in Dumaguete?) And so video stores are a major part of my film DNA, the same way it was for people like Quentin Tarantino. But back then, you had to do your research: you had to know what to look for exactly, amidst all the crap you were surrounded with on the shelves of these video stores. Finding a good, unexpected title was a bonanza. The experience is totally unlike the ease of picking titles today, legally or illegally. Today, you hear about a certain obscure title, and it doesn't take much to track down and download a copy. Sometimes, the obstacles cineasts faced in the past created a romance of sorts, like a search for some holy grail. I remember stumbling on James Bidgood's Pink Narcissus (1971) in some dark shelf in a forgotten videostore, and I remember how I went nuts.

But when was the last time I rented a title from Video City? Years and years and years ago. My late-return fees were killing me, and so I decided to stop altogether. (Then again, I haven't bought anything from my suki DVD bootlegger for the past few years either. Sorry, Japar.)

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