Frequently in this space, we will consult a different entry in the 1987 book The Modern Man’s Guide to Life to see how the advice therein has aged. Last week, we discussed STDs; today, we’re talking home entertainment.
The parts of this book that cover etiquette and the like are more or less accurate. But the portion about how to watch movies at home is so hilariously out of date, it’s worth revisiting.
So much has changed here. For the laughs:
Go for selection. The choice is VHS or Beta, and if you are at all interested in watching rental videos of current films, you’ll have a much better chance of finding the movie you want on VHS, simply because it’s the overwhelmingly favorite format. New formats are rolling out all the time, but with the enormous catalog of VHS films already on hand, the format seems likely to remain the home format of choice. The new 8mm formats are still too new to evaluate.
If only the author knew! You only see videotapes in giveaway piles now, and you couldn’t rent one if you tried. RIP Blockbuster. RIP to my local joint, Banana Video. RIP to all the video stores, actually, which tried to hang on when we went from videotapes to DVDs, but couldn’t survive when streaming technology allowed us to cut out the middleman and beam any movie anyone ever wants to watch from the sky straight to your television. But wait, there’s more:
The new hi-fi-capable VCRs deliver an enormously improved audio playback through your home stereo system. New television peripherals are coming onto the market that emphasize using the TV set as the central monitor in a much more elaborate entertainment package that can also include some information services. That means that when you buy a new VCR, go for the best quality you can get for the money. Think of it as buying a cassette deck for your stereo, because in a way that’s what it is.
Now even DVD players—the technology that supplanted VCRs in the first place—are on the outs. Why buy a player when you can just order something off Amazon or stream something from HBO Go? “VHS and chill” never stood a chance.