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VHS? Hell Yes!

It's seems more and more people are storing, throwing away, or otherwise abandoning their VCRs. While I definitely agree that DVD is a superior format, I think it's a bit premature to give up on VHS, not because of its technical aspects, but because of the huge wealth of films not yet available on any digital medium. It's sad, but inevitable that some films may not survive the segue into the digital millenium. Be it for rights issues, lack of marketability, or just plain obscurity, there are going to be films that will no longer be available to the digital loving public (music lovers will recognize a similar phenomenon in the vinyl to cassette to CD evolution). We are witnessing the beginning of this now as the major video rental chains (whose names shall not be uttered here) are beginning to purge their entire VHS catalogues and online rental stores, which of course never carried and never will carry VHS, are beginning to take a strong foothold in the market. This means that there is a growing body of works that are now only available in people's private collections and at ridiculous archives such as Scarecrow Video. This past Summer at the Seattle International Film Festival I was lucky enough to catch historian Eddie Muller speak in front of a screening of two (nearly lost) film noirs. He made the eloquent argument that film, every film, is a part of our cultural heritage. A film and the ideas and actions it contains can be revealing of the ideaologies, trends, or even just the market forces during the time in which it is made. This is why we should, as consumers and, hell, as Americans, feel concerned when a large chunk of history and art (okay, I use the terms loosely ) is facing erradication. I'm not saying you should write your Congressman or riot in the streets, I'm just saying: "Don't throw away that VCR!" And continue supporting institutions like Scarecrow Video, the Grand Illusion Cinema, the Northwest Film Forum, and even Turner Classic Movies for continuing to dig up and share films that otherwise would end up lost forever. Maybe someday the U.S. government will fully recognize the importance of the "seventh art" and give us at Scarecrow a bazillion dollars to operate as a National archive, but until then, thanks for stopping by and for your support. I plan to illustrate this post with specific examples and capsule reviews of movies which are, at this time, currently unavailable on any format but VHS. Stay tuned...

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