Oklahoma DA cracks down on overdue DVD rentals…

Do you remember the joy of visiting the video store? Growing up in Midwest City, we had Magic Movies on Reno and Douglas. It was an old school, mom-and-pop video store, where you’d pull out the plastic tab glued to the cardboard box and bring it up to the counter. Sun-faded movie posters wallpapered the tiny strip mall space, usually advertising gruesome, low-budget horror films. Although many of those lurid posters and the adjoining big box artwork gave me nightmares, it was always a fun treat to visit every Friday night and pick out a tape or a Gameboy game to rent after our family outing to Mazzio’s Pizza.

Soon, the mom-and-pops were pushed out by chain stores. Magic Movies was soon replaced by a larger Video Update. Hollywood Video moved into town, and of course the ubiquitous blue and yellow Blockbuster Video killed the industry nationwide by offering a hundred copies of the recent big-budget hits and little else.

Now, in 2018, there is only one Blockbuster left in the United States. The company cannibalized the market, and through its ruthless business practices and refusal to carry independent, foreign, or cult films, it destroyed an entire industry. We’ve all moved onto streaming services or piracy, and the fabled video stores of yore are all extinct.

Or are they? It turns out, Claremore, OK still has a thriving market for DVD rental. With discs, you don’t have to “be kind rewind,” but those pesky late fees are still an issue. It’s so bad, in fact, that the District Attorney is cracking down on fines and disc owed to an old school grocery store video rental place.

From NewsOK via AP:

CLAREMORE (AP) — A district attorney for a county near Tulsa has been cracking down on the old crime of not returning rental DVDs by offering a payment plan to avoid filing charges.

Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard’s office is sending letters to several hundred residents with overdue DVD rentals. The letters spell out fines and fees that start at $200.

The letters are part of a diversion program that allows Ballard’s office to recoup funds for businesses while avoiding filing charges. Super Video in Claremore is the only vendor being represented by the program.

The district attorney’s office estimates the number of missing movies to be about 600. Spokeswoman Michelle Lowry says the total amount owed by county residents could top $140,000 if the missing DVDs estimate is correct.

If we wanted to dig deeper into this, we’d talk about how it’s maybe fucked up that the DA is cracking down on this diversion program that only benefits one business. I’m more intrigued by these alleged SIX HUNDRED unreturned discs. WHAT FUCKING YEAR IS THIS? 2001? I go to Claremore every Christmas to visit my girlfriend’s lovely family, and it’s a cute little town and all, but I know for a fact that they sure as hell got Netflix out there. Who’s renting all these movies, and what are they watching?

According to this report from KFOR, Super Video is very concerned about homeless people returning movies like the dirty teddy bear comedy ‘Ted:’

TULSA, Okla. – A business has helped an Oklahoma man who had been facing a more than $200 fine and a warrant for his arrest for an overdue movie rental he had forgotten about after becoming homeless.

Tulsa television station KTUL reports Lonnie Perry had rented the movie ‘Ted’ in 2014 from a rental store in Claremore, located northeast of Tulsa.

Shortly after that, he became homeless and packed up the movie along with his belongings.

Perry had forgotten about the rental until recently, when he got a call and a letter from the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office.

Perry didn’t think he could immediately pay the fine.

But, Jeff of All Trades, a Tulsa handyman company, went to the movie rental store and paid everything Perry owed on the unreturned DVD.

Thank god we’ve got these good Samaritan handymen that are able to make sure that people aren’t going to jail over Seth MacFarlane movies.

Let it be known that Matt Ballard, the District Attorney pursuing these truant ‘Ted’ rentees, was the man speaking during the public marijuana forum in Claremore last month when a sheriff dragged a medical marijuana advocate by the neck and forcefully removed him from the building.

Now, Ballard has recused himself from the investigation and impending lawsuit. Knowing the way state officials tend towards hypocrisy work here, I’m gonna bet that Ballard is sitting on a DVD copy of ‘Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle’ that has been on his shelf since 2004. If they dig deeper in his closet, $20 says there’s one of those big porno box-sized rentals of ‘Faces of Death,’ ya know, they one that you had to go behind the curtain into the ‘Adults Only’ room to rent.