Is Blockbuster's biggest competition Netflix or Applebee's?
Is Blockbuster continually relying on the strange reassurance that ubiquitous physical presence brings?
I was slapped awake this morning by Don Reisinger's.
"Blockbuster's ineptitude over the past few years is simply unrivaled," he reasoned.
For all I know, he is right. I mean, doesn't the man who founded Blockbuster still own the Miami Dolphins?
However, sometimes real life behavior can give you that peculiar frisson that only a back-waxing has previously achieved.
Last night, I was driving to a concert and was becoming more than usually frustrated at the lines of turgid traffic ahead of me.
I thought they must all be going to the concert. (Graybeard and the Police, if you must know.)
Suddenly, the majority turned to the right. They were all going to Applebee's.
Now I wouldn't want to besmirch the hauteness of Applebee's cuisine, but it made me wonder just how much in this ridiculously fragmented, anomic society we live in, reassurance makes money.
Those pretty Blockbuster blue and yellow signs that adorn the American landscape alongside the Applebee's, um, apple, aren't proclaiming they are blazing beacons of modernity.
Instead, they whisper: "It's OK. We know you've had a hard day. We know you don't have many ideas at the best of times. So we're always here for you. Even when it's 8.30 at night, your boyfriend is driving you to dementia and you want to send your mother-in-law on a package tour to Greenland. Instead of going out to eat, order in and watch a movie. We even have a little letter box where you can pop your DVDs after you've watched them."
The heart of America is kept beating by brands that deliver on this kind of valium.
I was moved, for example, when I once, for reasons best kept away from the public eye, arrived in the middle of Deland, Florida. (The city were a woman was arrested not so long ago for attempting to direct traffic. Topless.)
As I drove down the main street, a McDonalds abutted a Burger King. A Pizza Hut stood foursquare with an IHOP and a Taco Bell.
The real excitement, one of the locals told me, was that they would soon be blessed with a Chili's.
Perhaps it's true that in years to come we will all be merrily downloading from gadgets that make our lives more spontaneous, meaningful and chirpy.
But when your immediate vicinity is still offering you a readily-accessible safe haven from the constant echo of your own inner vacuum, brands like Blockbuster might not disappear quite so quickly.
As one Delandian told me: "I mean, it's still a great place to meet girls too, right?