Know Your Redboxers: A Nearly Complete Field Guide for Identifying Various Breeds of Redbox Customers

If you are a regular Redbox customer, you have probably noticed there are many different types of Redbox users or "Redboxers."  You encounter these Redboxers on many of your visits to Redbox kiosks.  Some Redboxers are harmless, but some of them are incredibly annoying and can waste tremendous amounts of your time.  If you learn to identify and understand the various types of Redboxers, you might save yourself some hassles and aggravation.  Below is a guide to identifying the common breeds of Redboxers and their typical behaviors as observed in the wild.       

The Brand Noobian
The Brand Noobian has become an extremely rare species since the three-month period after Blockbuster shut down.  By this point, most people who will ever use a Redbox have already used one.  On very rare occasions, however, you might be unfortunate enough to get behind a person who has never used a Redbox and is baffled by the technology.  A Redbox kiosk is only slightly more complicated than a snack machine, but some people just cannot seem to figure them out, and they panic when it is their turn on deck.  If you encounter The Brand Noobian, please do your fellow Redboxers a favor and train this newcomer on the complexities of a graphic user interface and touchscreen technology.  If you do not feel up to that, please send the person away telling him or her, "If you're too stupid to figure this out, you're too stupid to watch any of the movies in that big fancy red box.  If you can find your car, please drive it to your home, read a book, and, for the sake of public safety, never operate another piece of heavy machinery."  

The Leaner
You know this Redboxer is trouble from the moment you turn the corner.  You will often spot this Redboxer while still in your car, driving toward your Redbox destination.  Visible from one hundred yards, The Leaner is the person who rests his forearm on or near the top of the Redbox kiosk.  This guy is comfortable, and he is going to take his time.  Do not be surprised if he reads every single movie summary he can find while you wait behind him jingling your keys and rocking back and forth on your feet, tapping on your thigh with your fingertips.  Just keep on jingling and tapping.  The more you do it, the longer The Leaner will lean and steal valuable minutes from your life.

Mobile Recon
The Mobile Recon guy is one of the worst Redboxers.  This is the guy who was deployed to Redbox to get a movie, but for some reason he and his wife had absolutely no discussion before he left the house about what sort of movie he was to get.  Instead, the guy chooses to scroll through about a dozen movies, reading the plot summaries into his cell phone.  After reading the summaries, the man and his wife engage in a lengthy debate about the movie choices.  Just when they have reached a decision, they guy realizes an online user reserved the last copy of that title.  That starts a mini-debate over what they had previously decided was their second choice.  If you are lucky, Mobile Recon will abort the mission and advance to another Redbox.  

Bad Blue Snaggletooth
A Blue Snaggletooth is normally a good thing to find, but not when one is in line in front of you at a Redbox.  This sort of Blue Snaggletooth is the dork who is wearing one of those idiotic looking Bluetooth earpieces that went of out style in 2007.  Apparently, he didn't get the memo or happen to notice 99% of the population stopped wearing them over concerns of looking pretentious and stupid in public.  These people are annoying because they will chat while at the Redbox kiosk, and if you do not notice the earpiece from behind, you will have to assume the person is deranged.  Even more annoying is when Bad Blue Snaggletooth turns around, looks right into your eyes,  and mumbles something.  When you ask the idiot to repeat the utterance, the idiot gives you a look of bewilderment and says, "I'm talking on my phone."   

Big Red Glasshole
The Big Red Glasshole is a close relative of Bad Blue Snaggletooh.  Although, this guy is far beyond Bluetooth earpieces.  This guy wears a Google Glass and talks to it while operating a Redbox kiosk.  Please note, this creature is purely theoretical at this point because no Google Glass user has ever been seen using a Redbox.  These massive tools are too busy hanging out in bars trying to get attention and ruining everybody's otherwise good time.  Have confidence that eventually one of these Glassholes will find his way to a Redbox and steal several minutes of your life.    

Copernicus Cinephile
Copernicus Cinephile is the Redboxer who puts a great deal of thought into his Redbox movie selection.  He wants to read every movie summary and then browse through his possibilities to reconsider all options.   This Redboxer may actually take more time to select a movie than he will spend watching the movie.

The Critic
The Critic can be a truly annoying little Redboxer.  This guy always brings a friend to a Redbox location.  You might wonder where this person managed to find a friend, but you should realize the friend is just as bad as The Critic and deserves to be friends with such a sphincter.  The Critic loves to browse through the movie choices at a Redbox and announce loudly that he "saw that movie already," and "it was terrible" or "it wasn't bad."  This guy will never realize that no Redbox customer will ever be impressed with a guy who has seen a lot of movies.  We can all assume anyone who likes movies enough to stand in line at a vending machine outside of a store--where the possibility of mugging, kidnapping, assault, etc. are distinct possibilities--is a person who has seen a lot of movies and is going to grow bored with a detailed five-minute explanation of why the last seven Adam Sandler movies are not as funny as Happy Gilmore.  Hey, Critic, they're all the same movie.      

The Solicitor
The Solicitor will catch you off guard.  This Redboxer wants to interact with you at Redbox.  He might turn to you and ask for your opinion of a movie.  If you just returned a movie, he might ask you what you returned.  Be flattered if The Solicitor engages you.  If he cares about the movies you watch, it means he thinks you look like a person with good taste. 

The Yearling
The Yearling is a very young Redboxer who does not have a credit card and always comes with a parent.  Since there are two people, they take a little longer with discussions, but the good news is The Yearling is impatient and fidgety.  The child will always get the parent away from the kiosk at the five-minute mark, because The Yearling grows bored quickly and will agree to any movie in order to end the outing with his or her parents. 

Bad Dad and Lad
What is the deal with clueless fathers who cannot pick appropriate movies for their children?  For some reason some dads take their sons to Redbox and rent movies their kids should not be watching.  Maybe the PG-13 rating should be a hint that fun-looking movie about robots, superheroes, space, monsters, etc. might have some wildly inappropriate content that was not intended for a seven-year-old boy who probably has not yet gained a complete grasp of the differences between fantasy and reality.  Oh well, don't try to get involved in this bad parenting situation.  If that seven-year-old boy in front of you at the Redbox kiosk does not learn how to grow into an emotionally unstable adult, how will he ever be a bad father to his own son?  Thus is the circle of life.

Lil' Scout
The sweetest Redboxers are the smallest.  Lil' Scout is usually a ten-year-old boy.   This kid knows what he is doing because his father trained him well.  He runs up to the Redbox and quickly executes a flawless return while his dad waits in the car with the engine running.  The more advanced Lil' Scout knows how to check a kiosk for available titles and return back to the car with a full report for his dad.  Lil' Scout, you are a wonderful little person, and you perform a valuable service for us all by keeping things moving.  Lil' Scout, we salute you! 

Pajama Party
Spotted almost exclusively at outdoor Redbox kiosks between sunset and midnight, the Pajama Party girls normally travel in packs of threes.  These are the young homely girls that got tired of sitting around the apartment talking about why they don't have dates and decided to distract themselves with a really bad romantic comedy.  They are always wearing pajama bottoms and T-shirts with some sort of screen printing on the front.  They do a lot of chatting, discussing, reflecting, and laughing.  These girls have little to do and no time constraints, so their Redbox experience could last for hours.  You know you have seen a great Redbox Pajama Party if two or more of the girls are wearing plaid pajama bottoms and old Bon Jovi concert T-shirts.  (If the shirts are from the same concert, even better.  You know the girls go back a long way.)  If you see three such outfits in one group, that is called the Redbox Pajama Party Trifecta.  You win and lose simultaneously.      

The Cheap Date
The Cheap Date is a less than prime mating pair of Redboxers.  This man and woman decided their date night would be a trip to Redbox.  It is important to keep in mind these two are not there to rent a movie.  This visit is part of their evening.  They are having the actual date at the Redbox.  They will be in front of you joking, giggling, flirting, etc.  These two people are in the middle of a date, and you are just the unfortunate schlub who got stuck behind them during this phase of their mating ritual.  

Debate Team
With the exception of crazy individuals, the Debate Team always has at least two people who have very different tastes in movies.  They will never find a movie both of them will like; however, that will not stop them from standing at the Redbox kiosk in front of you and engaging in a passionate debate about which movie they need to watch.  If you encounter a Debate Team at a Redbox, do yourself a favor and give each of them enough cash to pay for a movie.  Hopefully, each of them will rent a movie and just go away.  

Slow Draw McGraw
Slow Draw McGraw is the person who is surprised when Redbox asks for a credit card.  Somehow this person had the intelligence to acquire a credit card but lacks the intelligence to anticipate that Redbox will want a swipe from that card for every transaction.  This Redboxer always spends an inexplicably long time searching through wallets, purses, and pockets looking for a credit card. 

Wrong Way
This Redboxer seems to know how to use the kiosk but always manages to swipe her card the wrong way.  When the machine cannot read her card, Wrong Way swipes the card at least three more times before flipping the card over and swiping it correctly.  This bizarre behavior will be precisely repeated on each and every future Redbox visit until the end of time.

The Warden
The Warden roams from kiosk to kiosk, heartlessly leaving locked up Redbox machines in his wake.  This is the impatient Redboxer who obsessively and rapidly jabs at buttons on the touchscreen until the machine's operating system gets overloaded and causes the machine to freeze or reset.  Coincidentally, this is the same person who repeatedly presses illuminated elevator buttons and frantically pokes the crosswalk buttons.  The Warden also likes to bail out in the middle of a transaction, turning the Redbox into a zombie for a minute or so.  When The Warden is feeling particularly cruel, he will attempt to pick up a reserved movie from the wrong kiosk, leaving the machine inoperable for the next user until the machine resets.    

Return Ninja
The Return Ninja is a highly skilled and experienced Redboxer.  When you are using the kiosk, this is the person who appears out of nowhere, slips the movie in the quick return slot, and vanishes into the shadows.  The job is done, and you were not inconvenienced (unless the machine makes you wait a few seconds while the returned movie gets restocked).  The Return Ninja is a model for us all.

Grab and Go
Grab and Go is one of the ultimate Redboxers.  This person is a seasoned pro.  He walks up to the kiosk, selects the movie he decided to get long before he got out of his car, swipes the credit card he has at the ready, and rapidly punches his way through the on-screen prompts.  He grabs his movie and gets out of the way.  The whole transaction takes no more than sixty seconds.  Grab and Go is a model Redboxer.  

The greatest Redbox hero is Swiper.  He is the king of all Redboxers.  He reserves his movies online before he arrives at a Redbox kiosk.  He approaches with his credit card in hand.  He swipes the card, gets his movie, and gets out.  The best can get in and out in around thirty seconds.  But uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.  Unfortunately, Swiper has many adversaries.  Any bad Redboxer can ruin this guy's day, because Swiper has to get his reserved movie from a specific Redbox kiosk.  He already paid for the movie and cannot go to a different kiosk.  If there are twenty bad Redboxers in line in front of his designated kiosk, he has to wait for all of them or come back later when the flock of morons has dispersed.  Swiper may have a lot of enemies, but he is a truly magnificent Redboxer, and we should all strive to be more like this model citizen of the Great Redbox Republic.

Hopefully, you have identified yourself as one of the good Redboxers, and you can now quickly identify the bad Redboxers and the potential problems they bring with them.  The bottom line is this.  Many Redboxers are annoying, stupid, self-absorbed, and inconsiderate.  That is because Redboxers are just people, and many people are annoying, stupid, self-absorbed, and inconsiderate.  So, until we figure out how to fix this defect with the human race, we'll just have to get used to standing in line behind a wide variety of idiots at Redbox.   


How to Stop Previews from Playing on Your DVDs

It is really annoying when you buy or rent a DVD, play it, and get forced to watch a bunch of previews. You may try to press the Menu button on your remote, but that function is often disabled by the code on the DVD. You may try to press the Skip button, but that function may be disabled as well. After pressing all of the buttons you can think of, you realize the DVD has hijacked your DVD player, and you are being forced to play content before you can watch your movie.

Adding insult to injury, the forced DVD content is not just limited to previews. Previews are at least somewhat interesting the first one or two times you see them. The really annoying thing is the public service announcements telling you that you are criminal if you download movies, and you are no better than a purse-snatcher or a car thief. Really? Why are they calling you a criminal? You paid for the DVD. If you downloaded the movie, you would not have to watch the annoying and accusatory PSA. Oh, and how about those annoying Truth PSAs that finally break that big secret that cigarettes are bad for people? It is good that news is finally getting out.

The worst, however, is the stupid commercials. The movie industry is normally forcing desperate Blu-ray propaganda on DVD watchers, and sometimes you have to deal with those annoying HDNet commercials and commercials for new shows airing on obscure cable channels. If you wanted Blu-rays you would have started buying them at least three years ago when they were in style.  If you wanted to watch TV, why would you be watching DVDs?  The ad content is wrong for the audience and of little interest.  It is really all just a pain in the butt.

If you are tired of that forced DVD content, here is what you can do. If all of your other tricks fail and you find your DVD is forcing content on you, just follow these steps on your DVD player remote.

  1. Press the Stop button.
  2. Press the Stop button a second time.
  3. Wait a second.
  4. Press Play.

Your DVD should restart at the main menu, or the movie should begin automatically. This will not work on every DVD or every DVD player, but you will find it works most of the time. So, there you go. Press Stop, Stop, and then Play.  Start skipping through all of that forced content, and enjoy your movie.


Redbox Agrees to Warner Brothers' Artificial DVD Release Delays

First, it was Netflix--the shady Red Menace--that agreed to comply with Warner Brothers' system of artificial release delays for new releases. Now, Redbox has stupidly jumped on board with this scheme. Once a Warner Brothers movie comes out on DVD, you will have to wait twenty-eight days to rent that DVD from Redbox.

By creating this artificial delay, Warner Brothers is hoping to push you into buying that DVD instead of waiting to rent it. To gain favorable pricing and acquisition terms, Redbox is going along and shafting their customer base in the process. This is the stupidest move Redbox has made so far and raises questions about the wisdom of Redbox management.

The best way for consumers to respond is to not buy Warner Brothers DVDs during the first twenty-eight days after release. Also, consumers should find alternatives to companies like Redbox and Netflix. If Warner Brothers, Redbox, Netflix, et al. get away with this sort of sleazy behavior, we will see only more delays of this sort from more studios and more rental companies. The movie industry and rental companies are testing you to see how much you will take. If you intend to take a stand on this, now is the time. This situation is bound to get much worse if the consumers accept it.


The State of Disappointment from MTV

The State is the best show to ever air on MTV. It was a half-hour sketch comedy show formed by a troupe of very talented young comics. It ran on MTV in the mid-1990s and was like the Generation X version of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The State--specifically the first two seasons--was a hilarious, fresh, hip, and innovative show. The show had a strong and devoted cult following, and it was filled with 90s pop culture and music, making The State an important snapshot of Generation X culture during that period.

When DVD releases of television shows started to come into vogue, fans of The State began begging for a DVD box set of The State episodes. Years passed, and there seemed to be no hope the show would ever come out on DVD. Finally, after years of delay, The State: The Complete Series was released on DVD by MTV on July 14, 2009. That is when the disillusionment began to set in.

Apparently to save money on royalties, MTV chose to remove or obscure nearly all of the music and pop culture images from the classic comedy pieces. With The State, this was an incredibly tricky situation, because some of the sketches were centered around particular pieces of music and/or pop culture images. In many sketches, the actors actually spoke dialog over music and delivered lines standing right next to images of celebrities.

Rather than pay royalties, MTV actually chose to blur many images which might require payment of fees. For example, the "Cindy Crawford" sketch centers around the famous model. The original sketch displays photos of Cindy Crawford. On the DVD, these photos are just blurred out. Similar situations exist throughout the DVD set. They even blurred out Yoda in the "Dixon: Jedi Talent Agency" sketch for goodness sake. (As a surprising side note, the most famous Disney characters [Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, et al.] are visible on Billy's comforter in the "Boogey Man" sketches. There must be some good reason why MTV did not blur them out. If not, maybe those notorious lawyers at Disney will file a lawsuit.)

Making matters far worse, MTV re-recorded the audio tracks for many sketches. They replaced the music with bland imitations of the originals and brought the actors back to record their lines--many years later. Even though MTV used the original actors to record the audio, something is just off in many of the sketches. The vocal inflections and comedic timing are off, and many of the funniest lines just fall flat now. It is as if the humor has been neutered, and its spirit is gone, giving the sketches a manufactured feel. The most egregious example of this is seen in the "$240 Worth of Pudding" sketch. In the original sketch, Barry and Le Von romance a large mound of pudding while Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" plays in the background. Of course, to remove the song for the DVD release, all of the dialog had to be re-recorded and dubbed. The new music and dialog, just does not work. What was once the funniest sketch from The State, is now just moderately amusing.

If MTV had altered just a couple of sketches for legal reasons, this release would not have been so bad, but they have made changes to many sketches, and many of the altered sketches were some of the best ones. What MTV has released is a mutilated rendition of what was originally a great show. This DVD release taints some great memories that should have been left alone. MTV should have either spent the extra money to fund a proper DVD release of The State episodes in their original form or just not released the collection at all. How much could it really have cost MTV to display photos of celebrities like Cindy Crawford and Andrew Shue? How much could it have cost to play songs from Marvin Gaye, Black Sabbath, The Breeders, The Smashing Pumpkins, etc.? Certainly, the fans would not have minded paying more for a collection that maintained the integrity of the original show.

This DVD release in unfair to the loyal fans of The State, because the collection is substantially inferior to the original material. This release is unfair to the new first-time viewers, because they are seeing an inferior recreation of something that used to be special. Even though the cast of The State is partially to blame for participating in this release, it is unfair to them, because this collection tarnishes their reputations as artists. With this DVD release, everybody loses except maybe MTV. At least MTV gets to cash in with this cheap chop-job on what was originally a wonderful, creative, and hilarious show. What a shame.


Just Say No to Blu-Ray

This Blu-ray boondoggle has gone far enough, and it is time to clear the air. The Blu-ray format should have failed two years ago, but the entertainment and electronics industries are keeping it alive. We have all seen the commercials. You buy a DVD, try to play it, and you get slapped in the face with a commercial for Blu-ray. The music is fast and loud. Your screen is filled with explosions and cars flipping over. The sound effects blast through your speakers. Spider-man looks like he’s about to jump right out of the screen and land on your lap. As the excitement builds, the announcer implores you to gaze upon the incredible clarity of Blu-ray. The problem is this is all taking place on your entertainment system. You are enjoying the wonderful spectacle that is the Blu-ray commercial because you already have a decent entertainment system. If you enjoy the sights and sounds in the commercial, then you do not really need anything else. Call it a day, and enjoy what you already have at home.

Here’s the deal. Blu-ray is a ridiculous format. If you are not using it yet, do yourself a favor and do not go down that dead end street. If you are already on Blu-ray Street, get off now, cut your losses, and stop wasting your money on a format that will be obsolete in a few years.

On HD screens properly connected to HD players, Blu-rays are more clear than DVDs, but the difference does not really matter that much. Really, are DVDs that bad? Just ten years ago, people were awe-struck with the clarity of DVDs. In the past couple of years, however, Sony and the other contributors and members of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) have managed to convince a lot of consumers that Blu-ray is a major leap in technology.

In reality, Blu-ray is little more than a glorified high-capacity DVD. Sure the image is nice, but the cost is way too high, the title and equipment selections are limited, and the price to assemble a true full HD entertainment system is out of reach for most people. The problem is that if you do not have a spectacular entertainment system, you will not be able to appreciate a sufficient difference between DVD and Blu-ray. There is just not much quality to access, and accessing it is just too costly.

The real purpose of Blu-ray is not to benefit consumers. The entertainment and electronic industries are who really hope to benefit from Blu-ray. DVDs are fairly easy to copy, but Blu-ray discs are not duplicated so easily. Blu-ray discs are produced with a more advanced and expensive technology, and they hold much more data. Blu-ray discs also allow for other more sophisticated electronic copy protections. The entertainment industry has realized they cannot stop people from copying discs, so they are trying to move to a disc that is so expensive to duplicate that many people will not bother. Also, by using such large files for Blu-ray content, the entertainment industry makes the downloading of Blu-ray content cumbersome and time-consuming.

Also, the electronics industry hopes to benefit from Blu-ray by pushing consumers to replace their existing DVD equipment with new Blu-ray equipment. What better way to sell electronics than to make existing electronics obsolete. This is what they are doing. They know your DVD player is going to last for ten more years. Since you are not going to buy another DVD player for a while, the electronics industry has just chosen to make your existing one useless.

The biggest drawback to Blu-ray is its inevitable obsolescence. The era of the disc is rapidly coming to a close. Soon, we will all be moving to fully digital downloadable content. Movies will be transferred over the Internet and flash drives. Few people will be using discs, because discs will be largely unnecessary. If you want to see what is going to happen with movie content, all you have to do is look at the music industry, which typically stays five-to-ten years ahead of the movie industry.

The music industry abandoned cassette tapes for CDs years before the movie industry abandoned VHS tapes for DVDs. Currently, CD sales are plunging as the consumers force the music industry to move toward downloadable digital music. At some point, the CD will be relegated to obscurity. This same thing is going to happen in the movie industry as well. Video discs (DVDs, HD DVDs, Blu-rays, etc.) are the movie industry’s counterpart to CDs. If you want to see what is going to happen to Blu-ray and the other video discs, just watch what happens to CDs over the next couple of years. As goes the music disc, so goes the video disc.

In summary, DVDs are inexpensive, and the quality is very good. Blu-rays are expensive and they do not provide enough quality to justify their associated expenses. Video discs of all types will be obsolete in a matter of years anyway, so why start investing in a new format? The Blu-ray Disc Association, the movie industry, and the electronics industry are trying to jam Blu-ray down our throats. If you have not already said no to Blu-ray, consider the poor prospects for the technology and consider swearing it off. The era of fully digital downloadable movies is just beginning. You really should be saving up your money so you can enjoy digital downloadable content once it becomes the new standard for all video.


Redbox DVD Rental Vending Machines

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The New Release DVD Rental Kiosks

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DVDPlay Rental Kiosks

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