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Be Kind, Rewind

Blockbuster’s Nostalgia Rental

By Sean Zucker –

For those too old to understand TikTok, Fortnite or whatever the hell this is, they know that before Netflix and chill there was always Blockbuster nights. They fondly remember glorious nights filled with popcorn, candy and the latest release grabbed from the shelf, yearning for the ways of the old world before cellphones, streaming, or Justin Bieber. Fortunately, these kindred souls may dream no longer as they might soon be able to reclaim their magical, Blockbuster-filled nights and in the process embrace some nostalgia that could very well boost their health.

Last week, CNN reported the last operating Blockbuster Video store in the world, located in Bend, Oregon, will soon be available as an overnight Airbnb rental for a limited time. Guests will have access to the entire store and be free to watch a pre-selected lineup of ’90s titles or anything else they find in the store for merely $4 a night – a cent more than the former standard cost of renting a movie from the celebrated chain.

Given the impact of coronavirus and continued travel limits that still keep many largely housebound, the store’s manager Sandi Harding, believes it’s the perfect time to lean headfirst into 90’s nostalgia. “With everybody being stuck at home and re-experiencing family time together, we thought it would be fun to enjoy some family time in a throwback ’90s environment,” she told CNN. The set-up will also include an in-store living room featuring ‘90s decor, a huge era-appropriate television and a VCR. To complete the vibe, guests, of course, will have access to all the store’s VHS tapes.

(photo source: Airbnb)

A recent pair of studies out of Britain’s University of Southampton suggest Harding may not be far off on the benefits of nostalgically feeling warm and fuzzy inside. These studies indicate that feelings of nostalgia may have defined physical and emotional benefits, while also making people literally become physically warmer. The first of the English studies followed the relationship between feeling nostalgic and feeling optimistic. The research examined the concept that nostalgia is not solely an emotion rooted in the past tense. Its impact may extend into the future, leading individuals to a more positive outlook.

Co-author of the study, Dr Tim Wildschut, noted nostalgia’s ability to combat loneliness was the foundation of the research. The study examined participants’ differing optimism and self-esteem when recalling nostalgic experiences versus explaining ordinary events. It also measured optimism levels for individuals while listening to music they viewed as nostalgic versus individuals listening to a control song.

“Nostalgia raises self-esteem which in turn heightens optimism. Our findings have shown that nostalgia does have the capacity to facilitate perceptions of a more positive future.” Wildschut explained, “Memories of the past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth and can contribute to a brighter outlook on the future. Our findings do imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, could help individuals cope with psychological adversity.”

Barely a month later, the university released a separate study on nostalgia’s impact on overall body temperature. Initially published in the journal Emotion, the research explored the influence nostalgic feelings can have on the body’s reaction to cold and the perception of warmth. Its  findings concluded that feelings of nostalgia may have the ability to make people feel warmer or increase their tolerance of cold temperatures. Beyond comfort, Verywell Mind notes this can have various mental and physical benefits that include decreased feelings of depression and anxiety, increased feelings of self-worth, lower stress levels, improved sleep and possibly weight regulation.

(photo source: Airbnb)

For those unable to make the trek to Bend but who still want to support the cause or get a hit of nostalgia, the store offers a range of classic merchandise on its website with the sole purpose of helping this last surviving Blockbuster stay in business and not go the way of VCRs. Luckily for the store’s ownership, nostalgic folks also happen to be the most giving – at least according to a University of Chicago study.

The university’s research, originally released in the Journal of Consumer Research, followed the lead of the British studies by inducing feelings of nostalgia, this time by instructing participants to conjure up a nostalgic autobiographical event. They then presented these subjects with a variety of charity appeals. The researchers found that nostalgic participants had a significantly higher intention to volunteer or donate to various charitable causes than a control group of participants who were not asked to think about their past.

So, grab some popcorn and Jolt Cola and make it a Blockbuster night. The nostalgic vibes will be good for you, besides, it’s the mature thing to do.






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