Saturday, March 13, 2010

'Capitalism' Foiled, Again: Hollywood Video becomes new Last Picture Show

Doing everything I could do to stay on top of the new angst by renting Michael Moore's new DVD, "Capitalism: A Love Story," I rushed down to Hollywood Video at the strip mall near my home in north Phoenix, only to find a new bulldozer-of-a-gal working at the counter. She was on the phone, apparently unimpressed there were customers standing in line. This seemed strange, considering even the most common standards for customer service in America. But she was at work, apparently, performing another completely over the counter action: She was preparing the gateway to closing the video store down.

In addition to this, agony of agonies, the store at Cave Creek and Union Hills, a key unit in the marvel of suburban convenience for many years now, in terms of being the so-called local picture show, had decided to choose the week after Oscar week to stop ordering new films.

So Michael Moore's new film, "Capitalism: a Love Story," was not on the shelves. Nor were many of the movies that had just been celebrated as international shake-yer-moneymakers. Certainly, a lost opportunity for Hollywood Video.

Nevertheless, the woman at the counter was no longer engaged in the act of building a business, yes, even community that day. The place was going out of commission in a month or more or so. Like that famous old title, "The Last Picture Show," the Hollywood Video store was about to become a vacated retail space in brown-beige land. Despite having entered the social contract of actually being one of the key cogs for a fairly cohesive strip mall landscape, Hollywood is pulling out now, to make the place look like another post-retail wreck in Phoenix.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the local community library closed down due to budget restraints for Maricopa County. Indeed, the mere act of tacticle browsing of actual media bits seemed to be drying in the sun. The corporations are pulling out, and especially on the media side, drying out. The fascist architecture, as Bruce Cockburn might put it, is turning to ruins. And just as Moore's film might describe (I later rented the DVD at a Red Box, which offered absolutely no opinion on the film as I paid for it, something I'm really starting to miss), Phoenix is becoming, literally, another Flint, Mich.

All over the Valley, where such corporations as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video had convinced everyone that pasting their little stores all over the compromised plain would be good for everyone, their windows are going blank. They entered into the social contract, so to speak, to entertain everyone that way. But now that Goldmund Sacks and the Bush boys have sucked the middle class dry, as Moore pretty much illustrates in his shockingly sad satire and documentary, the corporate nation-state is disolving as well as each jauntily painted little plastic consumer hut goes dark.

More bad news for anyone on the wrong side of the digital divide, I suppose, but one wonders what's to become of the suburbs as such media hubs as Borders Books and Music and Barnes & Noble continue to crash and burn, leaving empty big box shells across the land .. like a bunch of dead locust husks, it seems to me.

At any rate, believe Moore's "Love Story." His timing of events, how George Bush ended his regime by allowing the banking industry to raid the treasury in a moment of panic before the election of 2008, rings true. As far as the end of the love story with "Hollywood Video," feels more like a break up to me.


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