Training Videos, Part 1: Blockbuster

Blockbuster in the 1990s was a seriously messed up place…

YouTube is more than just WatchMojo lists, people playing video gamesfan-made lyric vids of your favorite songs, and Jessica Nigri. YouTube is also a bastion of weird shit and that bottomless rabbit hole yields some video gold.

This includes training videos. Yes, videos shown to new hires from some of the most powerful (and most dead) retail and hospitality companies to ever grace American capitalism with big bucks and big dreams. Making this even better is that — as anyone who has been forced to sit through these can attest — they go out of their way to be ridiculous. And by ridiculous, I mean straight-up embarrassing.

Our first foray into insane training videos comes courtesy of Blockbuster. You remember Blockbuster, right? That video rental place that was killed by technological progress? Well, in the early 1990s, the movie rental mega-giant introduced its new, pimple-faced employees to company sales strategies via a creepy TV set-inhabiting “authority on opportunity” named Buster Sales and the bookish Marie.

Holy shit! These videos are, like, so ridiculously 90s!

Or, like Peter Engel secretly collaborated with David Cronenberg in a fluorescent/techno-horror-inspired conspiracy to destroy Blockbuster from the inside out. Seriously, who the hell wants to work at Blockbuster after watching Buster Sales all but tell Marie to get in his goddamn van?

The first video (yes, there’s more) is eight minutes of customer service, Sean Connery movies, VCP rentals, Mrs. Harris, and *swoon* Brian!

Then there’s Kristin, a customer (and presumably a friend of Marie’s) who comes to the counter with way more VHS tapes than are necessary for someone whose day is “pretty bogus, actually.” But where there’s two girls talking about how “babysitting is such a drag” in a video store, you know who can’t be too far away…

img_0218
He can “see an opportunity coming,” specifically one that involves Marie and Kristin getting into his goddamn van. (Screenshot from YouTube).

Through the first training video (and yes, I repeat, there’s more), any prospective Blockbuster employee from the early 90s must have wondered whether they were hire to sell movies or learn how to spot a sex offender.

But if you think the first one is bad…

It’s Buster Sales two, ya’ll!

While looking through “our gigantic catalogue called ‘Videolog’,” Marie and the sweater-vest-wearing Saved by the Bell nerd seem to bond over Peter Sellers, because we all know, to Marie, Peter Sellers is totally “one of [her] favorite” actors. But notice when she and Ferguson from Clarissa Explains it All look through that cinematic Necronomicon, she mentions that she can order it and give him a call when it arrives, prompting the bowtie bandit to express excitement over the prospect.

Was his expression of contentment about the ease of ordering a movie from Blockbuster or the mention of Marie giving him a phone call? I honestly cannot say for sure, because the only thing I’ve learned from these Blockbuster training videos is that everyone seems to want to awaken Marie sexually.

It’s got to be the headband.

Not to be outdone, Buster Sales once again enters the fold after Marie gives Glee Club Gary his video store nerd boner. But Sales has been spurned too many times by the curly brunette jailbait and this time, he will not be ignored. In a manner befitting Patrick Bateman, and having traded a razor-sharp axe for the sharp crashing of cymbals, Buster Sales decides the best way to “get [Marie’s] attention” is to crash them together like a gleeful menace, prompting Marie to cover her ears and agonizingly react, prompting everyone else in the Blockbuster to watch what they probably assume to be the work of an invasive devil (this was filmed in Georgia, after all).

If there is a second thing I’ve learned watching these training videos, it’s that Buster Sales is not only a pervy stalker in the Georgia Blockbuster, but probably a dangerous one at that.

Oh, and there’s Doug. Doug seems to have a lot of problems.

img_0219
Doug (left) with his mom, who probably forces the kids to read Bible verses or spend his nights alone in the basement. (Screenshot from YouTube).

I know it’s been said that Netflix and Redbox were the undoing of what was once the nation’s movie rental juggernaut. But let’s be real here. If I were hired to work at Blockbuster, and this was the training material assigned to me on my first day, I’d think there was something fishy at work and promptly quit.

Seriously, the last thing I would want as a possible Blockbuster employee is to find myself talking to a creepy perv in a TV screen that no one but I could see, especially if his idea of communication is to be a pushy, intrusive ass who think he’s King Salesman and, for whatever reason, has an obsessive preoccupation with my love life.

Unfortunately, he’s also the last thing we see.

img_0220
The look of a man with a goddamn van who just began his predatory plans. (Screenshot from YouTube).

 

###

 

Wait! Wait a minute! Doesn’t Marie look an awful lot like the girl who played Sydney in Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad?!

img_0222
Son of a bitch…! (Screenshot from YouTube)