By Eamonn Grennan
1: the state of being homesick
2: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
If you’ve ever been the kid who got all excited about a trip to your local Xtravision or Tesco for your fix of cartoon ogres or enchanted Ellas on DVD, or even a bigger kid like me itching to get their hands on the full Alien series on Blu-ray, surely you’ve felt a pang of heartache as you’ve watched video shops and supermarket DVD sections fall like dominos. You may find the odd corner shop with stacks of old Westerns and thrillers alongside vinyl and posters, using movie-related merchandise to push up their profit margins. Yet, you’re not going to be adding sleek DVD sets decked out with special features, lovingly detailing the movie’s journey from idea to story to big-feck-off Hollywood blockbuster before arriving in your sitting room. Or more likely, this is something felt by those that hold films and series, gateways into expansive visual and verbal storytelling, achingly close to their heart.
Now here’s a confession; I don’t have Netflix, nor do I stream anything for a binge. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to pay for the exact movie I want. It’s an opinion shared by many, but one that isn’t cutting it. The fact is that, like VHS tapes and audio cassettes, physical movie media is going the streamline route and taking some big childhood memories with it, but also – and this is the sad part for me, as a movie buff – you no longer “own” your own copy. I loved displaying my movies like the commodity they were, and now I find myself weary of dipping in and out of random, second-rate movies and calling it the norm. You wait for your desired series to appear, and then when it does, there’s always a chance that it will simply be ‘removed’ from your library by the service provider. I don’t think that’s what a library or any collection should be like.
Maybe you do think that movies, old and new, should be casual entertainment: pure escapism, as Hollywood originally intended.
Maybe I am just a nerd demanding a return to the way things were, and that a smaller physical collection doesn’t and shouldn’t reflect the passion I and others have for film. However, you have to wonder what else could slip through the ether in the coming years; human beings, being wonderful, always have a novel innovation or two in the works. Maybe we put too much emphasis on car ownership, for example, and may someday adopt widespread sharing schemes. Change is only natural, and change for the better is the best, but us movie nerds who can debate for full lunchtimes about Spielberg or Scorsese must surely feel something has been lost along the way to streaming.