When looking back at past generations, there were so many innovatively inventive ideas. Objects created out of necessity or pure imagination which made daily living less challenging. Within the current generation many of these then “cutting edge” concepts have either been improved upon, become antiquated or lost to the forgotten realm of “What the hell is that thing?”
It seems a shame that so much knowledge and history are lost with the dawn of each new age by way of obsolete items. But progress must progress or it’s not. Still it is unnerving whilst walking through an antique store and realizing, “Hey…I had one of those.” And suddenly realizing you are officially considered vintage.
Now as the next generation lays hands on the helm, we the current can begin to relate to how our parents and grandparents felt at our bemused wonderment of our predecessors’ devices. As we watch our own slowly go the way of the dodo…dodo like the extinct bird, not doo-doo like a poop. Kinda the same thing though.
In retrospect it’s interesting to note that whereas our elders focused a lot their creativity and inventiveness on devices with practical uses, we’ve concentrated most of our efforts on advancing entertainment and communication technology. From rotary dial to public booths, push button, cordless, mobile, flip, cell, smart. From hand written to telegram, typewritten, fax, e-mail, SMS, texting. From vinyl to reel to reel, 8-track, cassette, CD, mp3, audio streaming. From board to arcade, pinball, computer, Pong, video, joy-stick, controller, consoles, mobile, tablet, virtual reality, alternate reality. From theatre to home projector, television, Super 8, Betamax, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, digital download. Let’s stop there, back up four paces, pause and flashback to another relative, soon to be forgotten relic of our era.
Remember going to Blockbuster with family or friends to select a film for “Movie Night”? That tingle of excitement as you perused the “New Release” section? Then visiting the other sections filled with your favorites, movies you’d yet to see and some you’d never even heard of — all on high quality VHS!
It was the advent of DVD that spelled doom for the localized video rental industry. No, it didn’t happen overnight, but it seemed that by the time the format conversion from VHS to DVD was completely complete, doors started closing. It was the first step toward digital media and the last for Video Home System entertainment.
During this transition, video stores sold their stock of VHS for next to nothing. Avid movie collectors eagerly snagged them up by the box-load. But now what to do with all these boxes of defunct tapes? Well some of us snagged the shelves they came on, too.
Three massive video shelves made their way into a room in the basement of the House O’Saw, and a tin “PRE-VIEWED MOVIES” sign was hung above the door. Chainsaw’s underground (literally) mini-vintage video store was open for business. For 15 years house guests have delighted at this novelty. The collection itself has peaked with over 700+ movies in assorted VHS and DVD format, from all genres, all in alphabetical order. And in that time the basement has flooded multiple times. Particle board is virtually impossible to dry out completely and rot and mildew have taken hold as the shelves laden with old-school entertainment teeter on their foundations.
In truth the novelty has worn off, and with working VCRs high on the endangered species list, a collection of obsolete, inferior quality films isn’t as impressive as it once was. As our digital library grows, trips to the basement are less frequent; exchanging a stroll through the store for a scroll on the screen. Perhaps it’s time to close up shop.
Fond memory mingles with heartache as tapes are stowed away or discarded. There is empathy for the inanimate, with the fear that I, too, will someday become obsolete, stowed away and discarded …and then a realization that regardless of format, movies still exist. In respect of retaining the core, does anything truly become obsolete or just different? Does it matter what form something exists in as long as it continues to exist? I know I’m now nothing like I was before and can’t help but wonder what I will become when I am gone.
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