WAKE UP YOU GEEKS!! or ACCESSIBILITY Vs. HOARDING
I’m a film geek. I’ve been watching them on a regular basis since the early 80s. I’m in my mid 30s now and I still love movies. I love going to the theater and watching films at home (which I do more often these days).
DVDs and Blu Rays: Those little discs all the film geeks cherish like so many jewels. Wiping them off like a baby’s bottom when they get dusty. Always making sure they aren’t scratched or dirty. Holding onto them like artifacts that came from an ancient ruin. What makes them so special to people? Well, they contain films in digital form and if you’re really lucky, they come with cool extra features like audio commentaries, featurettes, alternate scenes and outtakes. It’s pretty exciting…for awhile. I collected DVDs for about 12 years, I had a pretty good collection too, (over 1500 titles). Several shelves full of those little cases. I arranged them in alphabetical order, categorized them by genre, re-categorized them by year, stared lovingly at them, snuggled with them and it made me feel warm inside….for awhile. I recently sold the bulk of my collection, saving just my all time favorite titles. Why would I do this?…
I often ask myself: “Whats my real problem with DVDs anyways? Why the negative attitude towards them?”. Well, for years I thought that to be a true film geek I had to have an immense collection of them. I think this is just part of the average film geek psyche. You want to keep up with your peers. I also did it for my own enjoyment, trying to get certain special titles, yet slowly over time I began to see the stacks of cheap plastic as more of a status thing (how many DVDs can I stock in my room?), not something that truly benefited me as a serious film fan. I then asked myself: “Do awards or trophies make you better or more intelligent?” I answered: “No, they’re just paperweights that shouldn’t even be taken seriously.”
Now, I do believe that there are film fans out there that really do take a lot of pride in their extensive collections and enjoy having them. I also believe that it’s in large part, a bunch of bullshit to basically hoard little containers with plastic discs in them to impress your goofy pals, which, lets face it, is about all they’re really good for. When people bring up their DVD collections I always think back to Ebenezer Scrooge with his little safe of coins that he held onto like the uber-tightwad prick he was. I know, I know, I shouldn’t think of collecting items in that way. But lets examine this a bit more:What exactly are you buying DVDs for? Is every film you buy something you plan to watch often or is it just to fill up your shelf and to say you OWN it? Just ask yourself that and answer as honestly as you can. Speaking personally I’ve concluded that being a film lover is NOT about collecting. Side note: Well, if you were collecting actual celluloid film prints (16 or 35mm) there is a case to be made for that. But then how many people own 16mm or 35mm projectors at home? Not many.
Getting back to my point, I’ve decided buying DVDs is, in all honesty, a very dumb way to spend your hard earned money. The bottom line here is that 99% of film fans who purchase DVDs en masse will not rewatch the films often, in fact I’ll bet you a Criterion the majority watch DVDs once and forget about them, that’s the films they aren’t MEGA HUGE fans of. Most film geeks have a small to medium number of films they out and out cherish, the rest they like but don’t completely love. It’s like going to see a new film at the theater. You might really enjoy it, but most likely you aren’t gonna want to watch it daily, weekly, monthly (or in most cases) even yearly. So why in the name of all thats righteous would you lay down your weekly pay for a DVD? And WHY WHY WHY for a film you haven’t even seen yet?! NEWSFLASH!! this action/compulsion is not about loving film as a serious scholar would…it’s just about owning something!!
Which brings me to a company called Netflix. Netflix is a film rental service that sends out DVDs and is now offering online streaming. If you own a streaming video player (such as the little honeys ROKU or Apple TV) you can sit right in your living room and use your TV like a virtual video brochure. To me, this is bliss. No more stopping at a video store to get that movie you wanted only to find its not available. No more waiting in lines. You can get practically any film you want either on DVD for a fraction of what it cost to get videos at the local shop. Not only that, you can get unlimited monthly streaming for about the same cost as what 2 or 3 films rented at the video store would be. Will the prices change and increase over time? Most likely, but who cares? Its way better than video stores and the price of that cable movie channel that replays the same films for decades.
While I certainly have feelings for the cool cult video stores that a lot of film geeks frequent and hang out at, I’ve decided that embracing the future of film and home entertainment is where I’d rather be. Maybe it’s about growing up and being intelligent about one of my favorite pasttimes. I just honestly think that at this point in our culture owning physical media (be it CDs, or DVDs or Blu Rays) is not what’s good for film/music lovers. What I DO think is good is having complete access to film and music. It’s actually a positive, smart thing and it’s exciting to know that as time goes on, we will have the ability to watch any films we want, anywhere, at anytime, on small or large devices such as iPads or our HDTVs.
As a film fan, I’m drawing a line in the virtual sand. I haven’t given up completely on DVDs, I still enjoy using them, but if I had my choice between a disc and a lightning fast, hi-definition internet stream to watch on my flat screen, I’d have to choose the latter. C’mon geeks, loving multimedia is about Accessibility not Owning/Hoarding. Seeing how many DVDs can you fit in your house shouldn’t be your goal if you really love film. Let’s look towards the future and not be sentimentally stuck in the past. Clean out those DVD/Bluray/CD hoarding rooms and refresh your minds. Say hello to the ever flowing stream of cinema, TV (and music) that awaits you!!