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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Do you still have a VCR?

A story on Cinematical over the weekend wrapped up the state of the decline of the VHS tape, with a particular emphasis on how many classic films are not available on DVD. Some of the commenters in response call out writer Peter Martin for ignoring DVD releases outside Region 1, and take issue with Martin’s basic premise that the death of the videotape is to blame for the lack of availability of some films.

Whether or not classic films can still be had on VHS is a moot point, of course, if you no longer have a VCR.

Do you still have a VCR?

I got rid of my last VCR years ago, and I hadn’t used it for years prior to that. And I haven’t felt the loss of it. I owed only a few commercially released movies on VHS — most of the my tapes were TV shows that I had recorded myself. And most of those are now available on DVD.

Not that I don’t hope for every film to be available for anyone to see, whether on DVD or streaming or on demand — and I think that day is coming — but I don’t miss my VCR one bit.

You?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • Katie Dvorak

    Nope. I think it’s been about five years since I had a VCR and the fact that you can still buy a VCR/DVD player baffles me. Are that many people hanging onto their old tapes?

  • Accounting Ninja

    Yup, I still have one. We still have tapes we watch, too. We’re always a little behind technology, though.

    We just watched some taped-in-the-80s ALF. It was so funny to see the commercials!

  • Gee

    Yep – I still have one. I have some tapes with ‘home movie’ footage on that I haven’t copied over to another format yet.

  • Jim Mann

    Do I still have one: yes.

    Do I ever use it: not really. I think the last time I used it was nearly two years ago. I still own a number of tapes, but I keep meaning to just donate them to the local library (if they still want them).

    Jim

  • Althea

    I still use mine almost every day. I have a lot of tapes that I haven’t watched in ages, of course, but the real issue is that I can’t afford Tivo, a DVR or combo right now. I have a cheap but serviceable DVD player for movies, and the two get the job done. Actually, though, among those old tapes are things like Olympics figure skating and opening/closing ceremonies that won’t ever be on DVD in their entirety, all of the Animaniacs cartoons, and some commercial tapes that I wouldn’t want to go out and spend more money on. But from day to day it’s taping Jeopardy and the odd TV show that keeps the VCR in operation.

  • I still have one, and I still have lot of tapes too, but I never watch it.
    Sometimes I copy some of them on dvd, but it’s a lot of work to do and too much boring …

  • Nope. It’s in obsolete-electronics heaven along with my vintage Walkman and my half-pound Nokia from 1998.

  • Bill

    Sure do. I still have a few children’s movies which we watch from time to time.

  • I still have one, and I don’t see any reason to get rid of it. From what (admittedly little) I understand of DVR, your storage capacity is tied to the machine itself, and you have to pay a monthly fee. I don’t want to spend the money, and don’t feel like consigning my tapes to oblivion just yet.

    That said, I do own a DVD player and I don’t really record shows anymore, nor have I watched anything on tape in a while. Even so, it’s nice to know that if I wanted to watch something on a tape (likely to happen at some point), I still can.

  • Mark

    I do, but we haven’t hooked it up since we moved house 2+ years ago. And that means we haven’t watched all of those MST3K tapes in many more years than that. I have never used my VCR for timed recording, though — I got a Tivo as soon as I got cable.

    I also have a laserdisc player, which I have hooked up and used in the last year.

  • Jurgan

    I still use the VCR for short-term recording- i.e., if there’s something I want to see tonight and I won’t be home at the time. If it were something I wanted to keep permanently, I’d go to my parents house, program the TiVo to record it, and then put it on DVD. Yes, my parents are much more technologically advanced than I, but that’s mainly a matter of money (and that my dad’s a huge tech-geek).

    And I do still have some old tapes (my wife has many more). I don’t buy anything new on VHS, but I’m not willing to chuck my old tapes yet. Maybe I should transfer them to DVD, though…

  • markyd

    I still have one of those dvd/vcr combo players. The vcr side of it rarely gets used, but it DOES get used. Specifically at Christmastime to watch old movies on tape. I just can’t get myself to re-buy them all. I’ve never recorded anything with any vcr so I’m not concerned about losing that capability. DVR doesn’t interest me in the least.
    I have a big collection of vhs movies that never get watched(and probably never will again) but I can’t get myself to get rid of them. sad.

  • I have two people in my house, and between us we four tvs, 4 dvd players, three of which are combination video. And we have satellite tv with a DVR. And we sometimes still get bored.

  • David Gilmore

    I do still have (and use) a VCR. Of the nearly 1600 titles I own (and watch, as can), most are still on tape. I am replacing them as time and precious financial resources allow, but I am cash poor these days. Also, there are many titles for which I have yet to find DVD replacements. I used to use the old thing to record the occasional event or TV show, but find I have little time for such pursuits these days (particularly after discovering, in a previous spring cleaning bout, that I was more than willing to throw away the vast majority of what I had previously recorded.

    It’s my fault, to be sure, for having collected more than I can afford to replace. Who among us has been silly enough to collect all of the “Broadway Melody” series, for example, or the Charles Laughton version of “Mutiny on the Bounty?” But then I do enjoy them. And it has been great sharing them with my son and daughter over the last several years. It is a dubious benefit, I know, to be the most film literate kids in their world, and my son (God help him) has now gone to Los Angeles and taken up the struggle of being a young working actor.

    Still the times I’ve watched all these films with them (and the many hours I’ve spent lately talking through my daughter’s film studies class with her) have been among the most enjoyable of my life. Eventually I may have to let these tapes and the player go, but like a maple that’s still yielding sap to boil down for Sunday brunches, I’m loath to take the life that still remains in them.

  • Carol

    I still have a VCR, and my children use it to watch movies and kids’ shows all the time. I wish DVDs were a little more child friendly. VHS tapes are so much more durable. Have you seen how a 3 year old handles a DVD? The disks can get wrecked in an instant.

  • misterb

    We still have a VCR, but it’s on a TV that we rarely watch – (thread merge) really only the Simpsons. I do have tapes that I will never be able to buy on DVD. In 10 years, I know I’m going to want to watch them. Let’s hope that the TV’s of 2019 will still take VCR inputs.

  • Paul

    I shall speak for my parents on this one: Yes. Some evenings they have church stuff or family stuff, and sometimes my mother works late and one of the first things my dad did after retiring was join the Obama campaign as a volunteer, so they record their must see TV and watch it on bad TV nights or instead of the morning news. Oh, and they like the Daily Show and Colbert Report, but always fall asleep before they come on.

    My father also has on tape at least a 50 movies, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Next Gen, and a lot of the X-Files.

  • Anne-Kari

    Like other folks who posted here, I still have a VCR though rarely is it used. There are a few family videos that I’d like to finish transfering to DVDs, but I haven’t purchased or watched anything on a VHS tape in years.

    And really, the family stuff is either way too old (super 8 from my childhood) or way too recent (digital videos of my own children) to require a VCR.

  • amanohyo

    I’ve got a giant box of VHS anime fansubs from the early 90’s and our local library still has a bunch of movies that are available on VHS but not DVD. I probably wouldn’t miss it, but those are my excuses. Plus all my wife’s favorite exercise videos are on VHS (I suppose we should transfer them one of these days).

  • Not only do I still have a VCR but the VCR I own actually managed to outlast my first DVD player. (Of course, I don’t use it as often as I used the DVD player but still…)

    I no longer record things with my VCR but I’ve used it to watch old movies that aren’t yet available on DVD, some of which I’ve recorded off cable, some I’ve rented and some I own.

  • David

    Yes I still have mine, and I use it often. This is because I do not rebuy media, if I have a movie on VHS I am not going to buy the DVD or BD of it, I like to get the most out of my dollars spent ^_^

  • I am the proud owner of a multi-format VCR/DVD player. It will gladly play PAL, NTSC (Never Twice Same Color), and SECAM tapes.

    I bought it primarily because my wife is from Australia and brought with her not only all of Blake’s 7 on Commercial tapes since replaced with DVDs) but also the entire run of Doctor Who taped from UK-TV in Australia.

    Since these tapes were made in the late 80’s and early 90s they aren’t any lost treasures but there are some stories that aren’t on DVD.

    And we do watch them sometimes.

    But since we got the DVR the tape player has been mostly silent.

  • NorthernStar

    I still have a VCR too, although it’s kept in a cupboard and I have to connect it to the TV if I get a hankering to watch something on a tape.

    It’s also a cheap way of being an indulgent parent too, as tapes cost as little as 50p (about a dollar) in most charity shops over here.

    I don’t tape with it anymore and since getting a freeview DVR (do you really have to pay for this in the US?) the DVD recorder doesn’t get used much either.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Still have one. Two, actually – both many years old but still working, so they’re still around. We have some old movies on VHS. These get gradually upgraded to DVD as the tapes die, but we have a lot of them. Still use the VCR for taping TV shows, though I’m sure a DVR will eventually replace it.

  • Kathy A

    Just last month I bought a VCR/DVD combo with the DVD being recordable, so I can finally transfer the rest of my tapes to disc. I’ve got a bunch of PBS/Science Channel/History Channel shows that will either never be available on DVD or cost a fortune, but I’d like to keep them. Also, my bedroom TV has a tape player in it, so I’ll be keeping the documentary tapes so I’ll have something to fall asleep to.

    Only problem is that I just discovered that Toshiba recordable DVD players don’t record on DVD+R discs, so I have to exchange my stack for DVD-R discs next time I head over to Best Buy. Damnit.

  • I have one (built into an old TV), but it eats tapes, so I never use it. I have about 200 VCR tapes, commercial and personal, that I still haven’t figured out what to do with. Too many to just throw away, but converting them all to DVD or MP4 would be a pain…

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