Tag: Justin Bieber

Digital Killed the Video Star

international independant video store day logo

Our first VCR was a behemoth of a machine. It was a top loading silver monster with buttons the size of dinner plates. The year was 1983, and all over the world budding cinephiles’ lives were being changed forever. My true love for movies was born that day my father unwrapped the box. The family now had their own personal movie theater. Not only could I watch Star Wars a million times, I had tentative access to movies I never could have hoped to see in the theater cause of my age. The VCR was a doorway to a whole new world.

The video store was the new candy store. I loved the experience of walking the aisles as a kid, surveying the boxes with their covers alluding to forbidden worlds of sex and violence. B movies always had the best artwork, from atrocious slasher films to ridiculous teen comedies. The shelves were loaded with monsters, UFOs, freaks, geeks and heroes.


As I grew older, my friends and I bonded over our shared viewing experiences. We watched everything and anything from the classics to underground cult movies. We craved the weird and the unusual. Foreign films slowly seeped into our viewing stratosphere and the world opened up again. Movies were the go to viewing entertainment. TV in the eighties was its own brand of fantastic, but it couldn’t compare to the silver screen.

When I went away for university I ended up in a town with a brilliant video store. You could always  judge the caliber of a video store by the number of its rare and obscure movies and this one outdid itself. You could spend hours looking through walls of forgotten gems, discussing the choices with the staff, friends and complete strangers who you knew shared your passion. A good independent video store was a meeting place for informed, engaging people and I miss them.


Our beloved meeting spots are slowly disappearing, but there are still a few out there keeping the spirit alive, and that is why this Saturday is the 3rd annual Independent Video Store Day.  So this weekend, instead of cueing up Netflix try your local Star Video and see what they recommend, those guys know movies.

I even miss Blockbuster. Sure they mainly catered to all the new releases but it was still fun to walk by an entire wall of something. One of my favourite memories of the failed franchise was the scene right before the store around the corner from my house closed its doors for the last time. Everything in the store had been picked clean except one rack right up at the front. It was full from top to bottom with only two titles: Robsessed and Justin Bieber: Never say Never. It was a kind of beautiful nail in an unfortunate coffin.

artist rendition

The King and the Pauper

There was only one Elvis. Stojko and Costello may share his name but Presley was in a stratosphere all his own. He’s the the undisputed King. Cool just oozed out of him, as well as copious amounts of sweat in the twilight of his career. Later on he became a caricature of his former self; the end result of being the most famous of the famous- that and a diet that included a sandwich entitled The Fool’s Gold: which consisted of a jar of peanut butter, a jar of grape jelly and a pound of bacon all wrapped up in a loaf of Italian bread. As I said before, he was the King. Ultimate fame must ultimately undo a person.  Elvis lived in a world of his own creation appropriately called Graceland. He didn’t have to adhere to the same rules everyone else does (except perhaps when it came to cholesterol). He was almost above it all.

I joined the cult of Elvis as a teenager. It happened like a bolt of lightening. A friend of mine and I were watching TV, flipping through the channels when we came across a broadcast of Elvis live in Hawaii. He looked absolutely ridiculous and the music seemed extremely dated. We watched in curious fascination. My friend said: “What’s the big deal with this guy? Why is he the King?” As if on cue; Elvis broke into one of those over the top grand gestures that Elvis impersonators love to do so much. It started out as a little dance and ended in a move where he reached out to clutch the sky. The entire auditorium hit the roof and went insane. The world was in the palm of his hand. It was probably the cheesiest/most awesome gesture I had ever witnessed. My friend and I looked at each other realizing that we had just seen something extraordinary. This ridiculous looking man was a force outside the boundaries of normal human beings. Elvis Presley had special powers.

There was nothing he couldn’t do.   His movies provide hints to the extent of his powers. Elvis played a tank commander named Tulsa Maclean in G.I. Blues. He’s a rough and tumble carny in Roustabout. In Clambake he plays a scientist who builds and races speed boats. In every movie Elvis sings, entertains and eventually gets to punch somebody.  He always  saves the day and gets the girl. Elvis never stops being Elvis. He knows the power he wields and the effect he has on other people. Some people out there on the interwebs have surmised that a modern day equivalent of that knowing smile belongs to Justin Bieber.

My knowledge of the teen heart throb is spotty at best. I’m not too familiar with his music (I don’t really fall into his marketing demographic), so I can’t comment on its worth. I’m still waiting for his equivalent to a  Billie Jean or Jailhouse Rock. Being a student of pop culture I am however aware of the phenomena of his celebrity. People really seem to like him. The last time I paid any attention to him was when he appeared on Letterman and proceeded to call one of the greatest pieces of art in the history of mankind the “sixteenth chapel.”  The cringe worthy mistake of a kid, that was quickly forgiven with a shrug and a flash of  those self aware eyes. It seems Justin has drank his own Kool-Aid. He and Elvis do share this in common; they are both extremely self-important, but is Justin the new Elvis?

In a word: no. But what I would like to see is this: A shot for shot remake of Fun in Acapulco starring Justin Bieber. Don’t change any of the dialogue or songs. Film the whole thing on a sound stage like the original. (Elvis never stepped foot in  Mexico). Could Justin Bieber become Mike Windgren: the traumatized trapeze artist who blossoms into a Mexican cliff diver all the while juggling two beautiful women? This could be the vehicle that kick starts the second phase of his career. Will he become Justin Timberlake or Kevin Jonas? Justin your jumpsuit awaits.