Poor image quality, garbled audio, unnecessarily stern lectures from the goddamn FBI -- these are what made our old VHS watching memorable. (And we loved every minute of it, dammit.) Still, there doesn't seem to be much cause for film purists to stay loyal to the dead format in the same way music nerds cling to vinyl. Compared to Blu-ray and streaming, VHS tape is an objectively worse format. But is it making a comeback?
Recently, clothing retailer / garbage heap of nostalgia Urban Outfitters began selling "Mystery VHS" packages, which each include five "iconic" films on Beta's nemesis. For $40. Don't worry about the cost, these sets have been "curated," and each one is unique. For example, the comedy bundle might such include icons of the genre as ... A Night At The Roxbury? An entire movie predicated on the notion that two dudes bobbing their heads in unison is funny?
Yeah, not surprisingly, this has raised some eyebrows. Not just because this product is seemingly the apex of lazy commodification of pop culture, but also because they didn't even bother to refurbish the tapes as overpriced bookends, or some kind of janky clock. Not to mention how one could wander into any random thrift store and "curate" their own VHS tape set for like a buck apiece.
As galling as this might seem to film fans everywhere, this is pretty much how Urban Outfitters does business. They launch a "controversial" product, and then mine social media outrage for free publicity. And it totally works! But this time, instead of making light of a historical tragedy or promoting eating disorders, the company is trolling movie nerds. So don't let them. Let's all pretend that 40 bucks is a reasonable price to pay for a tattered copy of Caddyshack II, and maybe they'll just go away like the Goblin King in Labyrinth (which, incidentally, is available on Blu-ray).
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It's hard out there for millionaire purveyors of garbage pizza.