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2017’s most avant-garde documentary was filmed inside a ’90s superstore

Screenshot: YouTube
Screenshot: YouTube

David Lynch must be kicking himself right now, because his attempt to induce a mass meditative state by making viewers watch a guy sweep the floor on Twin Peaks just got one-upped by a Washington woman’s dad. As Willamette Week explains, Kellie Rogers took some old tapes from her dad’s VHS camcorder to be transferred to DVD, only to discover that one tape contained a 26-minute chunk from the camcorder’s former life as a floor model in the electronics department at a Washington State Fred Meyer store.

Intrigued by the camera’s unblinking look into the everyday life of a ’90s superstore, Rogers took the tape to Reddit, whose detectives were able to determine that the footage was shot in the spring of 1992, thanks to the presence of Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ The Wind, the Wayne’s World soundtrack, Slaughter’s The Wild Life, and Pantera’s Vulgar Display Of Power in the background.

The footage itself would be right at home at an underground film festival, where it would be billed as a “hyper-realistic meditation on nostalgia, consumerism, and the decline of communal spaces under late capitalism.” Groups of kids—including one cool guy in a denim jacket blowing bubblegum—come up to see themselves in the TV next to the camera, as teens and adults mill around in the background.

One Paul Giamatti-esque character stands in the background flipping through a stack of records for almost the entire 26-minute duration of the video, and a bearded lumberjack type blocks our view of the store with his purple-and-tan striped shirt when he briefly stands in front of the camera, ignoring it the entire time. (Shoutout to the guy in the pink and black jacket who pirouettes around at 8:33.) You can also hear chatter from store patrons passing by the camera, and Tracy Chapman playing over the store intercom.

“I want to find somebody who was in it,” Rogers says. “I just thought it was such an amazing time capsule ... You notice people not being on cell phones, how busy that Fred Meyer is, how people just shopped differently. It was amazing to me, juxtaposed to today’s world.” Maybe one of them can remember what the kid in the blue jacket and stonewashed jeans was staring at for so long.

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