What I mean by this title is when will VHS become the new form of vinyl? And by that I mean when will VHS be the new hipster thing to have? People have to hear it now from the trendy people who say things like: “The music on vinyl is so much more… pure. Like, you hear the scratches and pops in a record and, like, you know, you don’t get that with a CD. It’s a sound that’s like, it’s music in it’s purest form. And that’s how I want to listen to music”. And, clearly, the hipsters are winning because more and more bands are putting out a vinyl version of their newest CDs (Foo Fighters, for example) and there’s even an established Record Store Day on April 21. For audiophiles, the record is the clear winner because the CD loses so much quality in transition, but there’s a difference between an audiophile and someone who just thinks having a record is cool.
And this is what leads me to what I thought today: when, if ever, will VHS become the new vinyl? When will owning a VHS copy of a movie be something that people try to use to impress other people? Will you ever hear someone say “Why, yes, I do have the VHS copy of Robocop. If you’d like to watch it with me, my VCR already has the tracking adjusted”. While VCRs aren’t extraordinarily old, within the next ten years, you’d probably be hard pressed to find a working one. If the popularity of the video tape picks back up then, eventually, companies will have to start making VCRs again and the price of them will be decently expensive because they’re so archaic. It could turn out to be more similar to the history of record players than anyone would have ever imagined.
Now, I expect arguments like the one in the first paragraph about how you hear everything from the music in the records. I’d like to add that because you could hear everything is a big reason why the music industry switched formats. Why would you want to hear cracks and pops when you can hear the actual song in a crystal clear format? It’s why CDs and digital versions are so much more successful than records ever were. A record can’t stand the test of time. Even if you properly store a record and take serious care of it, it will eventually be worn out from constant listening. The music industry made a conscience effort to move to something with more staying power. Cassettes has a better shelf life than records but even that was immediately abandoned when the music execs saw the staying power in CDs.
So why should the VHS tape be any different? After enough repeated watching, and any improper care, all VHS tapes will eventually wear out. The sex scene from your copy of Top Gun will eventually be faded as you hear “Take My Breath Away” play in the background. But will people go back to this old medium as they become far enough removed from it to appreciate the charm of a video tape?
I expect somewhere down the line that the inevitability of the VHS becoming a hot collector commodity is going to happen. Eventually, National VHS Day will be more than an obscure Facebook page saying that the day was created in 2009. And I hope that it happens at a point when I can say “In my day, I watched my VHS copy of Super Mario Brothers so frequently that the tape ribbon actually snapped. Kids these days! They don’t know disappointment.”