VHS tapes. There’s a teetering stack of them in every person’s basement, attic or garage. Once a staple of the year’s past, now relics. We traded in the tapes for DVD’s and cable wires, then swapped those out for Roku remotes and laptops. Now, we might even be eclipsing a new change in entertainment with Disney announcing that they are going to start a streaming service this coming November, joining the ranks of NBC, Hulu, Apple, Netflix and even Youtube. Not only that, but Disney and Netflix are toying with the idea of releasing episodes weekly rather than the bulk of a season all at once—sound familiar? The concept rings with the familiarity of a Friday night when the new Disney Channel Original Movie premiered. It’s almost enough to dust off the cover of that abandoned tape of “She’s All That” you forgot about. For some people, myself included, it is.
I love VHS, grew up on them even, and have been collecting them for around a year now. Scouring thrift stores for dirt cheap copies of early Tarantino, crappy ‘90s rom-coms and sequels to mainstream horror movies that I don’t own the original of is how I like to spend my Saturday afternoons. A co-worker from several jobs ago gave me her old VCR a few months back, so during this past summer I finally spent time going through my tapes. It was like riding a wave of nostalgia and I felt like I discovered a juicy secret that nobody else could have.
There’s a sense of a different time, an almost wholesome feeling, that I get whenever I put on the tape of the day (recently, these have been late 90’s slasher movies). For the longest time, movies were made because a group of people, sometimes just one, said that they were going to make what they wanted—VHS reflects that drive. Going through each individual title when out hunting makes me feel like I have an explicit and final say in what I watch, at least in comparison to the sprawling selections offered on whatever streaming site is in the highest demand. Why pay 12 dollars a month for what seems to be a never-ending hole of content that I’m only going to consume a handful of, when I could pay 75 cents for a movie that I can at least admire and not worry about disappearing?
If VHS does have a comeback, it wouldn’t be the first time something old becomes something new. Vinyl is doing just fine after having a several decade long slump. Sold in every Urban Outfitters and countless Barnes and Noble stores, records are living proof that there is life after death. CD’s are beginning to creep back into existence, and cassette tapes have a thriving culture on online marketplaces.
It’s quite possible that we’re watching the beginning of the end—the end of an era if you will. It’s not impossible for the tides to change, it has before and it will again. And just like the water in an ocean of trends, it will retreat and it will come back. So, as we sit back and watch the waves begin to roll away, be sure to keep it kind and rewind.
Image by Chloe Wei