Today, Ladies and Gentlemen, was a sad day indeed. Truly, today will leave an indelible black tarnish upon my soul. The transpired events have left me in a most miserable state of consciousness.
Of course, I’ll tell you what happened. I’ll tell you the tragic discovery that drained from me a little more of my dwindling faith in the human condition. I will warn you, however, to not take this lightly- every word of this story is true and telling it requires none of my usual embellishment. Be forewarned.
Just as any good story about the decaying of the American culture should be, this one takes place at Walmart. I often go to Walmart without any real sense of purpose. When my self-loathing throbs and swells to unbearable levels, I find that taking a stroll with the dregs of society through Walmart’s competitively priced goods is just about the best medicine. So, when I woke this morning to my nearly vacant apartment, the gray Cleveland sky and a bleak opinion of my future, I headed to the only place you can buy twelve tube socks for $4.00.
As a permanent student of human nature, despite my lack of any formal training in the field, I sometimes enjoy performing little sociological experiments. One of my favorites takes place at the $5 DVD bin at Walmart. Observe for yourself, the next time you have the opportunity, how this bin of questionable “B” movies, Mexican soap operas and direct to DVD sequels (see: the Neverending Story II, Air Bud 2: the Golden Years or The Land Before Time 32) remains completely unnoticed by passersby. Unnoticed, that is, until you start rummaging and burrowing, searching the depths for a hidden cinematic gem (I found Joe’s Apartment once.) Within two minutes, the bin will draw unto itself another scavenger and at this point, a curious set of unspoken rules comes into play. Boundaries are drawn, reminiscent of an archaeological excavation, and a slow clockwise rotation around the bin begins. Between three and five minutes, one more person will join the search, but never will a fourth try to saddle up to the bin. After a few minutes, all parties concerned have either found a movie worth $5 or, as happens more often, found nothing but garbage and the group will disperse. I know this sounds far-fetched; you will have to witness this yourself to truly believe.
Now, dear reader, comes the truly dismal part of this tale; more dismal even than the preceding glimpse into my psyche, much more.
As any scientist, or person who passed 8th grade biology knows, the only way to validate the results of an experiment is through repetition. Today, I did just that. As I began my dig, I rifled past several copies of Delta Force, Smokey and the Bandit II, Latina Low Rider Girls 8 and so on. These titles were nothing out of the ordinary, nothing unexpected, nothing to cast an abysmal pall over my day. Within the first minute, a short, balding Nascar fan (as recognized by his suede leather jacket with the large number 8 stitched in several places) started in on the opposite side of the bin.
It was when I began the clockwise rotation that I saw it. It was there, wedged between The Substitute and Porky’s. Crammed into a heaping pile of crap not worth the cost of the ink used to print their covers, was Reservoir Dogs.
At first I thought it was a mistake. My mind rebelled at the idea and constructed a fantasy of a lazy customer deciding against the purchase and tossing the DVD into the nearby bin. My fantasy splintered and fell apart when I saw the little white sticker in the upper left corner; the little white sticker that announced to the world that, by today’s standards, such a unique, original work of visual art is worth a meager $5.
Have you ever felt the Earth sway on it’s axis? Has it ever made you dizzy and disoriented? Have you ever felt like maybe our society is spinning down the toilet to a sewer filled with reality TV and endless Rambo sequels?
I did, today.
Maybe you didn’t like Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps you didn’t appreciate such a remarkable soundtrack as K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies. Maybe, just maybe, watching Billy Madsen torture a bound police officer to the beat of “Stuck in the Middle” was a bit too much to stomach. Even if you’d never watch this movie again, you have to admit that it does NOT belong in a bin filled with Dean Cain movies at your local Walmart. At the very least, it scored a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I know what you’re thinking, “But Travis, shouldn’t you be happy to find such a great movie at a ridiculously low price?” The answer is an enthusiastic “Go f*ck yourself.” I have purchased this same movie at least three times in my lifetime. I paid at least $20 each time and I will gladly pay another $20 if I lose the copy I’ve got now. I would pay $5 each time I even watch Reservoir Dogs.
I think my horrific find speaks volumes about the decline of our culture. The value of artistic expression and originality in America is dwindling; so much so that it’s almost worthless now. I’ll admit that there are still unique and original films being made and most are being appreciated, but for how long? No Country for Old Men has made a huge splash this year and rightly so, it’s a beautiful movie. But how long until it too is sandwiched between Beethoven 2 and Battlefield Earth in a discount bin at Walmart?
I’ve got to end this awful recount, I’m starting to feel sick and completely hopeless. Oh, and I need to microwave a Hotpocket, log onto NBC.com and catch up on the Biggest Loser before the season finale this Tuesday- I hope Jillian’s team wins!