Streaming killed the video store

MURRAY CHRISTIAN of Forrest Street, Fremantle, eulogises the passing of Bicton’s Jumbo Video, one of the last of the dying breed of Cool Video Stores.

A LITTLE while ago a small obituary passed into the latter pages of this paper. The kind of small lament that could slip by unnoticed to all but those well acquainted with the deceased. But as sometimes happens, there is a larger significance to the community and history that needs to be pointed out.

So I’m here to celebrate the life of Jumbo Video, not merely as a video rental establishment but as a local icon of film culture and one of the last such places of its kind.

For some time now what I’ll call the Cool Record Store has held a certain place in pop culture. They’re legendary places where people meet and hang out, form bands, start whole music scenes and fall in love.

Book shops too receive similar reverie. But even though the Cool Video Store is no less a hub of hipness and cultural wealth, for meetings of great minds and exotic tastes, there isn’t really a High Fidelity or Notting Hill told around one.  It’s possible I missed a few somewhere. In any case if there were some, Jumbo Video would probably have them, is my point.

They could be easy enough to miss in there too I suppose. It was pretty straightforward to get lost among the stacks in the vast barn of a place that it originally was. As a child this state was quite fun by itself though, pondering how there could be so many movies in the world and trying to figure them out from the covers was endlessly fascinating (although there was that one aisle it was better not to get caught in).

I’m not sure if I just grew, but the latter-day premises adopted shelving that was more of a height that would allow waving for help if you felt you were lost or drowning. The volume didn’t change though. Nor that sense of discovery.

I’ve taken Japanese friends there at different times over the years to impress them. One exclaimed when I showed her the Anime section “I never heard of any of these shows!”. With a slight ad-man’s paraphrase that’s “more Japanese cartoons than Japan” says Hiromi.

You might not care about Japanese cartoons, but that says something about what kind of place it was. It ran deep in whatever it did. You probably didn’t know Australia made as many films as Jumbo stocked either. Or Hong Kong, Spain, the UK et al.  Or, heck, films from America without explosions or Adam Sandler. Their love of the medium was all-embracing.

But so it goes now, as many thought things would when streaming started to get decent enough. Spare a thought, though, for the store and the people and the tactile quality of browsing that will be lost. Spare another for the many obscure but interesting films that might fall by the wayside, trapped by indifferent licensing to exist only in DVD form (or VHS!) and no store to hold them.

As this era passes, your streaming service will now serve you suggestions of what to watch like “Hey I just saw you looking at shoes on some store, so here’s some movies about shoes! (I couldn’t find very many so I’ll just bug you about these three over and over. Please don’t hit me. I am only a simple machine.)”

Perhaps some day it’ll say “Hey I saw you waxing nostalgic about Cool Video Stores. I happen to have a few really good movies about that.”

15. Zeel Designer Kitchens 10x3

Leave a Reply