Bye VHS, hello boring world.

Kim's Video

This is devastating. Cliff Notes: Kim’s Video in NYC closed and sent their collection of 55,000 rare VHS tapes to Sicily, Two Boots in the East Village just sold all their VHS, and because huge amounts of videos aren’t being digitized, we’re losing them.  I almost said, Get it together libraries! But rather I will say, Get it together people who think libraries/archives/film repositories  don’t need more funding! So it might not seem like the biggest deal that it will be close to impossible to watch undigitized VHS movies like Costa-Gavras’s 1972 Uruguayan political thriller State of Siege at home, but what else are we losing? Whose responsibility is it to preserve these films, not just in archives, but, as the whole point of libraries, to make them available to the public, not just film snobs and those with time and access to museums?
Who makes the decision to digitize VHS (or any fading format) and make it available? At what cost? Why have we been relying on proprietary businesses (is that redundant?)  to make these already-rare films available to us? What about aarrrrchiiiives? Here’s an article about how even libraries are ditching VHS.

And on a bigger scale, what does this mean for our cultural history?  When will we get to the point of only watching movies available on Netflix, and thinking that’s all there is? See what I’m getting at? The example of VHS  is just a fraction of a bigger issue.  If outdated technology isn’t updated to be usable today, we’re losing a lot of great stuff, and narrowing our idea of what movies (and every other medium) are/were/should be.

I say thank you to all those who continue to ignore copyright law to digitize and preserve formats that others can’t or won’t…years from now, we’ll all thank you.  I’m not AS worried about these films being preserved for posterity, I’m more concerned about us little people having access to non-mainstream films.

Get bootlegging, people!

In other news, the people over at UbuWeb have been posting avant garde videos, sound, what-have-you, oftentimes without permission, on their site for years. Yay!

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5 responses to “Bye VHS, hello boring world.

  1. Here, here!

  2. Oops, sleep-deprived. Hear, hear!

  3. Pingback: Bye VHS, hello boring world. « Now that we’re being honest… | VHSArea.Com

  4. The good news is, DVDs don’t lose a fraction of quality every time you watch them like videos do AND most of them aren’t panned and scanned. Shrinking a picture to fit on a VHS usually results in cutting out a third of the picture. Wouldn’t you rather see the whole movie? I bet the director would prefer it. Also, Netflix has the widest selection of anyone, far more than 55,000 titles, and even though I wish to support local businesses, once everything goes digital and we simply download movies, won’t that save Mother Nature a whole lot of hassle?

  5. Also, PLEASE don’t encourage bootlegging, Lacey. You are taking money out of your sister’s pocket! Not exactly, but the film industry has been struggling for years, and people keep saying the internet is going to erase the cinema. You’ll be singing a whole different tune when the screen you watch movies on is diminished EXPONENTIALLY and baby tarantulas will weep to their mothers about the day when there were movie theaters and they appeared so much larger and scarier than they will ever be allowed to be in that dark and distant future. You wouldn’t rip off a painter, so why is it okay to rip off a filmmaker? They start off just as poor and idealistic as all the artists you admire.

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