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Jason Rantz: Seattle's Scarecrow Video should accept defeat

Taken from Tuesday's edition of The Jason Rantz Show.

Scarecrow Video in the University District has been stuck on life support since the owners realized they didn't have enough clientele to support the business.

Now Scarecrow is hoping to get off life support and rehabilitate by transitioning into a nonprofit. But that still costs money, so some employees of Scarecrow Video created a Kickstarter page to set up this nonprofit.

In a video compelling people to donate, they tell us the importance of video stores:

"The video store is a vast repository where you might find any number of entertainment options in a variety of different formats: DVDs, VHS, laser discs, other," says a man dressed as a scientist. "Video stores used to pepper the landscape, one every block in America it seemed, but in recent years these noble institutions have been driven nearly to extinction. That's what makes a place like the video store so important. It's a library of the moving image, a place where real, physical copies of all the movies, be they good, bad, or ugly, can live together."

A number of employees explain in the video why they are starting this Kickstarter campaign.

"There is no one on the face of the earth more dedicated to Scarecrow than the employees who have given years and years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears to this place," says Kate Barr, co-founding director of The Scarecrow Project.

The employees say this is a make-or-break scenario for the video store.

"It's essential that we get all of the support now because if we don't succeed, we can't go forward with opening the doors in the autumn," says Barr.

This is a sad story but not because this company doesn't have the support from the clientele to justify its existence as a for-profit business. It's sad because these folks don't realize this is a dead industry.

No one wants to rent DVDs and Blu-rays from brick-and-mortar stores anymore. Certainly not enough to keep a business open. That this place, Scarecrow Video specifically, is going out of business, it's not any more tragic than a Blockbuster going out of business. Blockbuster went out of business and you don't see people screaming about how bad that is.

Scarecrow Video is not some shrine of movie cinema that is keeping movies from being lost forever. They want you to think that, but that's not the case. These films will always exist if people want to watch them. The films will always be accessible, just in a different format, in a digital format. Digital is cheaper and better for pretty much everybody involved. In fact, one could argue it's more noble to encourage more digital preservation of films on the web.

If there is truly a market for these types of rare independent films, then people will actually see them, people will find them. And if there isn't a market, then nothing you can do will save them, and maybe your time would be better served making the case for independent filmmaking.

They're making the case that this type of business model of going to a store, renting, watching the video and bringing it back to the store, that somehow that is noble. That is not noble. That is just you making a case for a business model that doesn't work anymore. People are finding film entertainment now on Netflix, Redbox, and On Demand; that is the business model that works.

And I'm sorry, but if I watch an independent film On Demand or I download it off of iTunes, it's just as noble as watching it on Blu-ray.

Taken from Tuesday's edition of The Jason Rantz Show.

JS

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