Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, August 9, 1996


Video games may become
video wars

NEW technology breeds new behavior, a lot of it bad.

For instance, while video technology isn't new, the emergence of large video movie rental stores is. On the surface, these large chain stores would seem pretty much the same as your basic book libraries, except there is a bunch of videos on shelves, divided into subjects or arranged alphabetically.

But the difference in the way people behave in libraries and video stores is stark. In libraries, people are quiet and polite. In video stores, people are mercenary, aggressive and rude.

What is needed here are some rules of etiquette for movie video stores.

The first thing to remember is that once a movie is made into a video, it is not going anywhere. It is not a rare object that needs to be procured immediately at any cost. So you shouldn't embarrass yourself by body-checking an elderly lady who is about to pick up the last copy of "The Bridges of Madison County." In a few years, copies of "The Bridges of Madison County" will be piled in landfills. Let the elderly lady have it. In a week, you'll be able to rent half a dozen copies.

By the same token, it is unseemly to paw, elbow and grab at recently returned videos that have not been put back to the shelves. Generally, there is a long line of these movies sitting on the checkout counter waiting to be re-shelved. Video sharks and vultures hang out at this counter, waiting to snap up certain movies that have just been returned. Sometimes, you see them yelling "Hey, buddy, what movie is that you're returning? Let me see! Toss it over here."

Video store etiquette requires you to wait patiently while the returnee drops his video in the drop-off slot. Don't harass the person by forcing him to admit to everyone in the store that he is returning some stupid movie like "Heaven's Gate" or any movie starring Pauly Shore.

A lot of the bad behavior at video stores stems from their successful effort at putting out just enough copies to assure that not everyone who wants one gets one. This takes a lot of market research. But you will notice that they might supply 50 copies of "Babe" to the shelves when there is a clear market for three times that many. In this way, they create a feeding frenzy atmosphere that can be best observed by people perusing the "Latest Releases" aisle.

It happens all the time. You start looking at the latest releases alphabetically. But you notice a guy in front of you is getting to see all the movies first. He is in the position to possibly take the last copy of a movie you may want. So you do the ol' "Video Store Hop" and jump in front of him. Now he realizes that you are getting first crack at the movies, so he hops back in front of you. Then you hop in front of him. Before you know it, you both are at the end of the "Latest Releases" aisle and neither of you has actually read any of the titles. The main thing is, you beat him to the end of the shelf.

One last bit of advice on video store etiquette: Don't ask store employees to suggest movies to rent. I asked one woman behind the counter to suggest a good movie and she recommended something like "Waiting to Exhale."

"Isn't that a 'chick flick?'" I asked.

She blanched. Chick flick?

"That's sexual harassment!" she declared.

I explained that it wasn't sexual harassment. That there are certain videos that are "guy flicks" - like "The Ultimate Fighting Championships" - and there are "chick flicks," like any movie where the guys cry.

That description did not seem to make her happy so I quickly left before attorneys became involved.

I guess the best rule of thumb is, when you go into a video store, just behave as if you are in a library. And everyone is armed.



Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite" Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802 or send E-mail to 71224.113@compuserve.com.



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