Published at: Dec. 29, 2008, 10:35 p.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here... In 1977, my home was burglarized by a friend of the family and around $100,000 in collectibles at 1977 prices were stolen and fenced around the country. Yet to the casual observer, nothing was missing at our house. The settlement money with the insurance company bought me my first television in my room - I was the first of my friends to have a TV. It's also when I got a stereo system with state of the art album play ability. My parents got a video game system that was astonishing... it was called PONG. And then the last thing was a VHS vcr player and new HUGE 27" Television. We were the first people we knew that had a VHS. Blank tapes cost a fortune, but within the year we had over 600 features on VHS and tens upon tens of hours of cartoons. We recorded so much off those early days of television - it was the beginning of an 8000 tape VHS collection. We still have most of the home recorded stuff, including things that have never hit DVD - and probably never will at this rate.
Flash forward to 2008, near 2009 - at Yoko and mine's abode - I have a VHS to DVD converter, but it isn't hooked into my system. So if you brought a VHS to my house, I couldn't play it. So it came as no surprise when the unknown hero of AICN, RoRo told me that he'd read that the last producer of VHS tapes has decided to no longer make VHS tapes.
VHS has been dying ever since the advent of DVD - I suppose DVD is dying ever since the advent of Blu-Ray and many would say Blu-Ray is already dying due to Digital Download... but that's an argument for another column. Here - we come to eulogize the mighty VHS.
God. VHS changed everything. The ability to play and own something you loved when you wanted to was a miracle. Before VHS - film on demand was an extremely elitist deal. You had to collect 35mm film, 16mm film or Super 8mm or 8mm film. And very few people had the wealth or storage capacity to amass significant home libraries. VHS changed that forever. Prior to VHS, my family would acquire 6 films a year on 16mm... but like I said, after that first year - we had over 600 features.
My father created a complicated labeling and organizing system that had footage measures as to the start times of various programs on a tape. We had a remote control that had a wire running from the START/STOP FF/RWD of the little thing you'd hold in your hand. It was crazy. I have such an impossible library of memories and films that were brought to me via VHS... home recorded off of television. That's how I found VIVA VILLA and SAHARA - both of which played at BNAT this year to a room of movie geeks basically seeing the film for the very first time.
I can't say that I'm emotional about VHS going away. The last time I watched some of those old VHS tapes, about 4 years ago - the quality. My god, I can't describe it. I can't believe that was how it all was. My original STAR WARS vhs... forget about it. Shredded. ENTER THE DRAGON - the jump before and after every fight... if you watched it through you'd wonder what the hell you were watching. There's a Chinese philosophy about how everytime you use something you affected it and a part of you changed that thing forever. With VHS, you felt that... and winced.
In the digital age - as of now that seems to be a thankfully lost thing. My youth was on tape - 8-track, cassette and VHS.... and cartridges (video games). My adult life is digital. VHS is dead, long live Digital!
If you'd like to read about the final gong signaling the death of VHS - Read the LA Times Story Here!
And think about your first VHS... What was it?