Believe it or not, before the sleek, compact designs of the DVD and Blu-ray, there existed old-school VHS tapes, the clunky beginnings of home cinema. A precursor to today's "Netflix and chill," there was "rewind and Blockbuster," which required much more effort for a much simpler, clunkier reward. When it comes to VHS tape nostalgia, few people really recall the best things about VHS tapes, largely because there weren't many to begin with. Many memories from VHS tapes lie in the minds of millennials and the preceding generations, probably about the loud noises they made and their ability to jam themselves in the VHS player at a moment's notice.
Given the modern era's need for nostalgia, one can fondly recall some of the best things about VHS tapes. For one thing, funny VHS covers made a Blockbuster visit worth the trip, and Disney's "vaulted" VHS classics felt classier than anything else in your childhood. And one cannot deny the satisfaction of taping your favorite movie to keep for yourself, even if it was littered with commercials. In the end, you're probably thankful for less clutter and more variety that comes with streaming services. But then again, nothing compares to nostalgia.
The Annoyance Of Rewinding
Ugh! Few things felt more frustrating about VCRs than putting in a movie only to discover the person before failed to rewind it. As a preemptive measure, video stores placed stickers on each tape that read "Be Kind, Rewind," and many would even fine you if you returned a video that was not rewound. By the late '80s, external rewinders came into existence to speed things up. Some of these took fanciful shapes that suggested speed, such as racecars and wildcats. The worst part was waiting, listening to the whirring magnetic tape as it spun round and round. No matter how fast it went, it never went as fast as a DVD's ability to "skip" along.
The Tracking - Somebody Fix The Tracking
So you popped in the VHS, kicked back on the sofa with your remote, and waited for the show to begin. But suddenly, only seconds into the video, static-y strands of "tracking" obscured the picture on the screen. Though some VCR remotes had tracking adjustment buttons, those that did not forced everyone else to get up from the couch, walk to the VCR, lean over, and fiddled with the tracking button until the picture improved. Sadly, one might need to make repeat visits to fix the stupid tracking.
Trying To Tape TV Shows Without The Commercials
You often saved on rental fees by taping movies and TV shows as you watched them. While you could try to program your VCR to tape the shows and movies in your absence, all the commercials would be taped with the show/movie, meaning wasted tape and extra fast-forwarding. To make a "commercial-free copy" (a loose term as you always got a bit of commercial regardless), you'd have to stay super alert to click "stop" on the remote to avoid the commercials.
The most horrible moment of this experience? The innumerable times when you forgot to push "play" after the commercials ended and the program returned. Have you ever been assigned by a parent to tape the old (and overly lengthy) Elizabeth Taylor/James Dean movie, Giant, on a network running commercials about every seven minutes? It was a very special kind of hell.
Fast Forwarding To The Good Parts
Sometimes you found yourself in a hurry, unbothered to watch Elle get dumped by Warner when you just wanted to know Brooke Windham's alibi. In your haste to get past all the other boring legal jargon, sometimes you wound up fast-forwarding into unknown territory, AKA spoilers. Many a movie plot or ending has been spoiled by the overzealous fast-forwarder, and the only time you should ever worry about seeing spoilers is on the Internet.