Hard Copies

Entertainment hoarding.

Blockbuster recently announced it would close its remaining stores by January. It has been widely noted as the end of the video rental era, a historical period that lasted roughly as long as the Age of Zeppelins. A financial Hindenburg for Blockbuster investors, but from most consumers it drew merely a shrug.

Around the same time, I made a disturbing discovery. One of my favourite home entertainment devices has become more or less obsolete—my Panasonic DVD/VHS recorder. When it started acting up I found that the company no longer makes them. I imagine lack of interest in the VHS aspect is partly responsible—I just like the idea of having the capability to play the old technology. But mainly it’s the DVD recorder I use. It’s not enough for me to record classic movies on my PVR, watch them, and delete them. I have built up a stack of favourite movies recorded from commercial free channels and transferred to disc. I’m an old-school entertainment hoarder. I still want hard copies.

Music, too. While I did belatedly move away from vinyl and start downloading digital music, I still spin discs. No iPad for me—I transfer favourite playlists to CDs and play them on the monster-speaker stereo system I purchased in the late 1970s. If I ever downsized I’d have to redecorate the whole apartment.

It’s not just the big stereo system (with, yes, a cassette deck) that sets me apart these days. The desire for hard copies also seems to be fading. I was raised to collect, to possess tangible libraries of music and, later, movies. This impulse is starting to look outdated. Few people I know burn CDs. And more people seem to be forgoing ownership entirely, confident that the music they want will be available to them online when they want it via Spotify, YouTube, and so on.

I feel rather like a Depression kid, still hoarding money and food decades later, terrified of the shortages just over the horizon. I can’t relax, let go, and trust that the cloud will meet my needs.

The real problem with entertainment hoarding is that I’m piling up dated technology. My hoard won’t be much good when the machine breaks and nobody sells or services them anymore. This could be considered an argument for accessing all my entertainment online, but it’s an even better argument for collecting books.


Post Date:

December 6, 2013