Ladies and gentlemen, this is the sequel to a previous column, “Touching It.” It was within that piece that I espoused the merits of physical media and the importance of tangibility when collecting and owning the movies we love so much; I believe that holding the media and having contact with the object itself has an effect that cannot be replicated by browsing through a digital queue or looking at a folder on a computer screen.
There are downsides to this passion, though. I’ve come to the point where my collection has become so large that I don’t quite know what to do with it. And because we’re all big movie fans here, I think (hope?) a lot of us are in the same boat. You only have so much space in your house/apartment/room to store this stuff, and the unfortunate truth is that you’re inevitably going to run into some roadblocks when you accumulate the things you care about. Let’s discuss.
The problem with alphabetizing your collection is that it is next to impossible to maintain it unless it is no longer expanding. If you only buy a few movies a year, it’s probably not really that big a deal to carve out some space for new additions in your library. Like a lot of us, though, I buy a TON of movies, and maintaining an alphabetized collection requires space and free time that I’m not sure I have. A few years ago I decided that I could slow down and be happy with what I already owned and simply rent everything else from Redbox or check it out on Netflix, but that didn’t last for too long. I find that the rewards of owning my movies outweigh the benefits of a lighter, more portable collection.
Let me get back to organizing. We’ve already gone over alphabetizing, but what do you do with boxed sets? I have so many collections of movies that can’t be split up into their respective, single films. Sometimes there is more than one movie on a single disc. Other times there are multiple movies contained in one box. Do I alphabetize those by the star or the theme of the set? Does the John Ford box set go in “J” for John, or “F” for Ford? Or does it go at the end of the collection within a sort of miscellany? Is my life easier or harder because Scream Factory’s two Vincent Price collections include 13 movies that I can stick in the “V” section of my personal library? Price does NOT like the idea of being incorrectly filed.
All this doesn’t even go into the physical imposition of a movie collection. I’m blessed to have a wife that loves the things that I love and who supports my passions and enthusiasms…enthusiasms… (“What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy?
It’s easy to say “it’s time to cull your collection,” but I can honestly say that there’s not a single DVD that I want to get rid of. I’ve been there and done that: as soon as I sell a movie, I end up wanting to see it again, or worse, I forget that I don’t have it anymore and get crushed when I realize it’s gone. Just the other day I got an urge to watch Encino Man for the first time in years. Well, I can’t watch it because I sold the DVD a long time ago and it’s not on any of the streaming services I already subscribe to. It’s a 4 dollar rental on Amazon Instant, but it’s a 5 dollar DVD purchase. Guess which wins? If I hadn’t traded in the disc ages ago, I could watch it whenever I want to…and remember why I sold the thing in the first place.
I’m clearly not the only person who struggles with this sort of thing, because several companies have come out with computer software in the last couple of years to help you keep track of your collection. The company I use to log all of my comic books also makes a program that keeps inventory of DVDs, and it’s something I’m considering. Some programs actually come with a bar code scanner that inputs the DVD or Blu-ray directly into your computer and takes virtually all the work out of maintaining a database of your extensive film collection. None of these, however, help you get your hands on a disc when you decide you want to watch it.
A naysayer might suggest that this is why physical media just too much trouble and digital copies and streaming services are the way to go, but I’m planted here in my stubborn ways. My movie collection simply brings me far too much joy to ever consider parting with it, and besides, having the discs themselves is the only surefire way to know you can watch what you want to watch, when you want to watch it. The world we live in has become one of ever-shifting corporate landscapes, where companies rise and fall in the blink of an eye and digital distribution deals have a shelf life of months rather than years. What’s on Netflix Instant today might be gone tomorrow, and that Ultraviolet collection in the cloud doesn’t do anyone a bit of good when your internet is down. Also, what happens if there’s a glitch and your digital collection disappears? What if I forget my password? No, physical media is the way to go, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve now collected movies for longer than I haven’t collected them, and I’m not about to stop now. The downsides are still just mere obstacles on a road well worth traveling. I’ve just got to face reality that maintenance is crucial to a happy collection, and maintenance takes money, dedication, and lots and lots of time.
Batman, “Come on! Let’s get nuts!”