The nostalgia for VHS

Tonight, my wife and I watched one of our movies from our collection, which we haven’t watched in a long time.  The movie was “Angels In The Outfield” and it was a real pleasure to watch it again, after all this time.  Best of all, we watched it on VHS and that always brings us a lot of pleasure on its own, for the nostalgia we have for this video format.

Unless you’re a child of the 60’s or 70’s, you may not have much reverence for watching movies on VHS.  But, for us, there’s something very special about those little black boxes of Mylar ribbon, and the sounds of the mechanics inside the VCR as it unwinds the tape, preparing to entertain us.

It just makes that connection to those simpler days, when you would go down to the video store on a Friday to pick out the movies you’d be watching over the weekend.  When you’d sit down with the family or friends, with your bag of potato chips and can of soda, and watch a movie together.  Back then, we all didn’t have our own T.V. to watch (or portable video device), like today.  A household would typically have one, or maybe two T.V.s if you were lucky.  So, usually, if you wanted to watch a movie, you had company of some sort watching with you.  It was a family sort of affair.

Typically, most commercial VHS movies had previews of some sort on the first five minutes of the tape.  So, most of the time you had to “fast forward” past all of this to get to the movie.  But, when watching with a group, watching the previews was a good warm-up, which allowed everyone to get their drinks and snacks, get settled in on the couch and ready to watch the movie.  Even though you were at home, it was sort of like an “event”.  Or, at the very least, it was all part of the “tradition”.

Once the movie was over, the other part of the tradition was to hit the “rewind” button on the VCR to rewind the video tape back to the beginning, ready for the next time you want to watch the movie.  If you were a real “videophile”, you probably had a VHS tape rewinding device, which you used to rewind the tape, saving some wear and tear on your VCR.

And for me, this kind of ritual/tradition in movie watching is very much lacking in today’s world of modern conveniences.  Everything is so “instant”, there’s just not much appreciation that goes into an event, like watching a movie at home.  And, I think that we’ve lost something because of it.

It’s a very similar sort of thing that I appreciate when watching our collection of LaserDiscs, as well.  When I have to get up and “flip the disc” to side B, it’s sort of like having to change a reel on a film projector.  It’s just that extra bit of “ritual” that makes you appreciate what you’re doing and taking part in.

We really enjoy watching our collection of movies on VHS and LaserDisc and we’ll continue to do so for as long as I can keep our VCR and LD player in proper working condition.  These are items from our past that help us appreciate the simpler things in life, which adds so much enjoyment to our home entertainment experience.

You can read more about my movie collecting by visiting my blog at:  Hope you stop on by!

Join the Conversation

  1. Ahhhh I don’t feel strange NOW that I know others are like me wayching my old recorded VHS and Beta tapes, or Laserdisc collection of old mystery movies! I like the old ads too ; )

    1. You are not alone, my friend! I don’t think that DVDs, Blu-Rays and streaming are all they’re cracked up to be. We much prefer watching our VHS tapes and LaserDiscs when we can.

      And the idiot who put out the false information that VHS tapes only have a life span of 10 to 15 years should be strung up by his “short and curlys”. I remember when DVDs hit the market that the advice was, from the “experts”, to replace your VHS tapes with DVDs, because they will be unplayable in 10 to 15 years.

  2. We sold our final box of Beta tapes when we had to sell the house about five years ago (they were the last items from the business that went). It has been a long time since I’ve even had a workable machine to play either format.
    Most fun to have is the debate on whether or not to set the time after a power outage. I always did.

    1. Ha! Well, if our current VCR displayed the clock on front panel, then I would. But, since it only appears on-screen, I don’t usually set it, as we don’t use it for timed recordings anymore.

  3. We got rid of all the old VHS tapes, cassettes, records and stuff, and put in a full size pool table and a table tennis table. Room still feels a bit empty, though.

    Sold the TV cabinet to some guy who used it to make a full size replica of Noah’s Ark. The storage towers for the CDs are now being used as a pylons on the Golden Gate Bridge.

    I really don’t get this nostalgia for old formats. I got rid of all my chewed up cassette tapes and scratched LP’s years ago. All my DVD’s and CD’s are in a box in the garage. I’m old fashioned enough that I store my own copies on my own server … still don’t like these small monthly fees – dozens of then that add up to a lot over a year.

    But as I was saying, the old *click* ut as I was saying, the old *click* ut as I was saying, the old *click* ut as I was saying, the old *click* ut as I was saying, the old *click* ut as I was saying, the old *click* ut as I was saying, the old screeeee

    1. I have a lot of my movies and music digitally recorded on hard drives, as well. I’ll just say this: having everything digitally recorded can be convenient, but recording digitally doesn’t capture everything that goes along with watching a movie or listening to music. Something is lost in the process, which you’ll never get back if you don’t preserve the original in some manner.

      There’s a price to everything; you just have to decide what you’re willing to pay for it.