Although the collection was vast, I was able to only take in about 50% of the offerings. Was I blind? No, the lighting was quite good to the contrary. The problem seemed to lie within myself. There was an assortment of VHS and DVDs to choose from. But I simply didn’t SEE the VHS. I saw them, but they never crossed the threshold to being a true “option.” I had begun to think that perhaps I was a technology snob. Why waste MY time with waiting for the VCR to load the tape and *gasp!* perhaps even waiting 5 minutes for the cassette to rewind? Out of the question. In the end, I settled on a recently released Titanic-esque DVD called Poseidon.
Going into this, I expected what I knew. This movie would never pass the barrier from the B category to the A category. Try as it might, any movie whose plot is based on “a big ship sinking” can never escape the shadow of a film which currently holds the record for the most Academy Award wins ever. I knew this. And despite there being a plethora of possibilities on VHS, gems such as Godfather or Animal House, I simply chose to turn away.
A few nights later I found myself in a non-chain movie rental place. As I walked in, I couldn’t help but to feel a gloom, as if I had walked into a vacant, musty church. My eyes slowly scanned the horizon. Despite the newest releases in DVDs lining the walls, anything more than 3 or 4 years old was sitting in the middle of the floor, on shelves no taller than your shoulder. Here lie the cassettes. Sad. And lonely. Few, if any, customers peruse these dust-covered selections, and fewer still under the age of 50. These are relics of a past when families got together to watch Disney movies on the couch. When popcorn was made fresh using a machine whose sole purpose was to actually make popcorn.
We now live in a Brave New multi-media World where soon the concept of a “video store” will quickly be as antiquated as a phone line. Digital content is already available, immediately and at any time, day or night. HBO On-Demand does not have closing hours, and your computer can stream videos over the internet at lighting speeds.
This is the death of VHS.
Although it had been ailing, the format's death became official in this, the video industries’ cash-cow fourth quarter. Retailers have officially decided to pull the plug on making VHS movies, saying there was no longer shelf space.
The bells are tolling for DVDs soon. And the specter of the headless horseman lies beyond, in the fog, waiting for HD-DVD to come, and go, and walk the Beta-max trail into the forest, never to be seen again.