Why DVDs?

In my house, it is likely that you will be able to find a stray DVD, Blu-Ray, or even the odd VHS tape laying on any flat surface. Sometimes, our movies can be found one at a time, and sometimes in large stacks that verge on falling over. The movies range over all of genres, from serious period dramas, foreign films, lighthearted fantasy, and even some comedy thrown in. We have movies as old as the silent era, and from every decade since.

Why do I say all of this though? Who benefits from knowing all about my family’s movie collection? Just this: physical media is better than digital. Recently I have gotten into collecting vinyl records of some of my favorite bands, and what started out as a couple old and used records has turned into a respectable catalog nearly thirty strong. Of course it isn’t that impressive, but for me that catalog of roughly thirty records means much more to me than the hundreds of albums I’ve purchased digitally, and the thousands that are within my grasp to stream digitally.

But why does it feel better? I am not an audiophile, so I cannot significantly tell the difference between vinyl and digital music. Wrapping back to DVDs, I am also not a guy who needs his films to be in 4k UHD. Not that I hate seeing movies in extra crisp quality, but to me it doesn’t matter nearly as much as just being able to access my favorite film whenever I want. And when I am buying a movie I haven’t ever seen, then I am far more committed to actually watch the movie.

Where am I going with this though? I suppose, it is simply that in an age filled with streaming services, it is some comfort to me to have a physical collection of movies around. It feels more real when you put the disk (or tape, if you’re that old) into the player, loading up the menu, and then hitting play. Recently I watched Encanto with my business partner and fiancée, and realized that yes, Disney still has the “Fast Play” option before their movies on DVD releases. I’ve never actually clicked the button, but apparently “fast” means a ton of previews. But part of the experience is scrambling for the remote to get to the menu, instead of accidentally letting it go through the previews.

The point is that by the time you got around to hitting play on the video, you’ve already invested a significant amount of energy into getting the movie going. On a streaming service I find it hard to want to commit two whole hours to watching a whole movie (though ironically I can binge 4-5 hour-long episodes of a tv show with no problem.) However, when I have taken the time to choose a dvd or blu-ray to watch, I have already committed whatever time that I am going to spend on the movie, as opposed to still browsing the 5-12 streaming services that are available.

Another thing that bugs me with the streaming services nowadays is just how many of them there are. In order to get a decent selection nowadays you have to have about half a dozen services you pay for monthly, which just isn’t economic. If I get more than a couple $10 DVDs in a month, it would be shocking. Contrast that with the $20-$30 dollars you would need monthly for the streaming services. And yes, you get far more selection with streaming, but is that a good thing?

I think the best times I have spent with my family is when we don’t spend our time browsing for something to watch on the TV, and rather we are huddled by the DVD cabinet, pulling out a small pile of options, and discussing them with all of the choices in front of us. Sometimes it sparks a conversation, sometimes even a fight. Often it takes even longer than finding something to stream. But overall, even though the goal is the same, more time is spent interacting with people, and less time is spent staring at a screen in relative silence.

So what exactly am I getting at? I think it is that sometimes, it is better to have things physically. It gives a more intimate presence to the entertainment you enjoy. It creates an atmosphere where people actually interact outside of the media. And it is yours to keep, and enjoy whenever you like, even without access to the internet.

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