Of video stores, smaller is better

"Art is too hard." "Art is for the rich." "I don't get art."

These are but a few of the oft-quoted reasons why people avoid the whole issue of art in America today.

People don't want to be bothered with art.

The average consumer doesn't even realize that film, yes those movies we consume over buttered popcorn, come out of an art medium. And this does not mean just those "boring" films shown at The Loft.

This general lack of interest in the sometimes sophisticated ideas of art is why the average person gets their art from Blockbuster Video, and they deserve it.

At the gigantic video chains one gets fast-food art, creativity with CostCo convenience in a setting so squeaky clean and corporate that one could easily forget that the vanguard of film stands in opposition to these homogenous standards.

Hard to believe that the product sold and rented at these establishments was once based in imagination.

These huge culture regurgitating warehouses look identical from San Francisco to Jersey.

The first among the evils of such establishments are restrictive dress codes that require uniforms and their stated corporate policy of intolerance toward male employees with earrings or long hair.

These very same major retailers have also managed to squeeze out Mom and Pop video stores and often place restrictions on films available to the public based on "family values."

Another thing that shows disregard for the art of film is the idiotic practice of categorizing films by lead actor rather than the directors who are the true driving force of any film.

And then there are the clerks, who act like they have never read a subtitle in their lives and just might name Keanu Reeves as their favorite actor.

Typical conversation at Mega-Colossal-Video-Store:

"Do you have 'The Return of Martin Guerre?'"

"What?" says the clerk in his or her requisite blue, Oxford, button-down shirt.

"It's a French movie."

"Let me see . How do ya spell it?"

"G-U-E-R-R-E. It stars Gerard Depardieu."

"Nope. Sorry, we don't have that one. Can we help you with another selection this evening? Perhaps . 'Beauty and the Beast?'"

No matter that the film in question, "Martin Guerre," is considered by many to be a modern classic. With close to 10,000 titles and growing why should they be concerned with classics? They have 200 copies of "Speed" on back-order!

For anyone really interested in the art of film this is not the place to be.

Better for one's intelligence and soul are independent video stores with good foreign and classic film sections, where the clerk can offer his or her opinion on their smaller, but often hand-picked with care, selection.

Like at a shoe repair store where the owner knows a good pair of shoes when he sees one or the bookstore clerk with thick eye glasses from reading the merchandise, the employee at the video store counter should know something about film history and criticism.

Arts editor K.C. Conner rents her videos only at the oldest, darkest, dankest and smallest of rental locations.

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