Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nostalgia’s a weird thing. Sure, us ’80s kids feel a pang of enjoyment when someone reminds us about Madballs, but nobody’s out there obsessively cataloging them, let alone making them the focus of documentaries and theses. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened to the VHS tape, which, despite having been made obsolete by the advent of DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and online streaming, has failed to fade out of our collective unconscious.

There’s plenty of chronicles of the VHS tape’s lingering influence out there—Rewind This! and Adjust Your Tracking (featuring our own Katie Rife), both released in 2013, are among the best—but if you’re strapped for time, this 30-minute video essay from Scanline should serve as a fine introduction.


Scanline’s breakdown does an especially great job of detailing how some of the biggest movies of the late ’70s and ’80s benefitted specifically from the format, both through its gritty presentation and its ability to bring films to areas that once lacked access to them.

Of course, this fascination is very much particular to Gen-Xers and millennials, as both generations carry with them the nostalgia of the format, which no doubt served to introduce them to the entertainment that still resonates with them today. Still, as the above video details, this kind of reverence will likely never be passed down to DVDs, no matter how much they evaporate into our wi-fi.

And if you’re still feeling nostalgic, you might like this.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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