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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

While out of date, VHS still hold sentimental value

Guest Column by Scott Viau

On a recent trip, I stopped by a used DVD store and saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time: VHS tapes. DVD (and now Blu-ray) has been at the forefront of my ever-expanding collection, but something overtook me that day and I bought, for $1, Dustin Hoffman’s “Tootsie.” Before this impulsive purchase, I can’t remember the last time I bought a videocassette.

When I returned home from my trip and popped the cassette in the VCR, something strange happened. The whirring and clicking made by the VCR triggered memories and feelings I hadn’t felt for years. Playing that tape made me feel like a 9-year-old kid who just returned from the video store, ecstatic that the movie I wanted to rent was available. Back then, the only special feature I was looking forward to was the possibility of good trailers before the movie.

DVD and Blu-ray are no doubt superior formats to VHS. Aside from the positive feelings of having been taken back to my childhood, I realized just how bad the quality of a movie on VHS actually is. It was grainy, it was full screen, and it was crap. But it was what I had grown up with and that made it special. VHS is how I watched E.T. fly across the moon, Freddy Krueger dream-stalk his latest victim and Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star. VHS is how I experienced some of the most famous scenes in film history.

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VHS, it’s more than safe to say, will never make a comeback. Granted, every once in a great while a film will be released on VHS, but it’s usually no more than a novelty item used for nostalgic purposes. It will never be as popular as it once was. But with the advancement of home entertainment technology, we’ve become greedier as an audience when it comes to what’s packaged with the movie. No longer are we just interested in getting a copy of a movie to call our own. Now we want it to come with different versions, audio commentary, deleted scenes and all the benchmarks of a “special edition.” All those extras are great, and I’m glad to see them included, but I never waited to buy a VHS because I knew there would be another one with more special features later down the line that would make it worthless. VHS allowed to us to appreciate the movie we were watching simply because of what was appearing on screen and not what was packaged with it.

At the time of DVDs inception, I remember being incredibly upset that a new format was going to come along and make all my VHS tapes worthless. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened, but it worked to my benefit. The advent of the DVD made films less expensive to produce for a mass market of DVD buyers. While DVD was relatively expensive at first, much how VHS tapes were, once the new format took off prices were slashed considerably. Due to the large amount of storage space, DVD also allowed consumers to purchase seasons of their favorite TV shows, something that just wasn’t practical with VHS. Instead of a clunky cassette they could now be put onto a disc for a fraction of the cost. I was a quick adopter of the DVD player and soon forgot all about my VHS collection, which was considerable at the time.

Since then I’ve never really looked back until now. I’m glad DVD has come along to make the home entertainment experience that much more immersive, but I will always have a special place in my heart for the thing that contributed to me falling in love with movies in the first place.

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