by Anthony King
Having just recently had a conversation about Blu-ray collecting, I laid in bed last night thinking about the bookcases in my basement clotted with Blu-rays, DVDs, VHS tapes, books, CDs, and a meager collection of toys. Questions swirled around my head as I drifted off to sleep. How much money do I have wrapped up in the objects that populate these shelves? How many movies are still trapped behind the plastic in which I originally received them? How many ounces of dust is living in the spaces I don't run the Swiffer through? But most importantly: Why? More in a bit. First, a few things I've seen recently.Prisoners (2013) at Ace Hardware for $5. Did I rush home to watch it? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I forgot I now own it until I looked at the Letterboxd list of my collection. I also have a nasty habit of keeping the plastic on discs until I watch them. So what happens if I decide to watch Do the Right Thing (1989) and I finally unwrap the plastic only to find the disc cracked or scratched beyond recognition? The answer is nothing except to eat a big ol' bowl of crow, because I bought it during a B&N sale three years ago at a store and have no proof of purchase.
So why do I feel the incessant need to own a movie on disc? Sure I'm supporting the business when I buy directly from Kino or Vinegar Syndrome. But guess what? I usually buy from Amazon (gasp!). The collector will come back and say I'm supporting the preservation of film and streaming is extremely unreliable. These things are 100% true. But at what point am I buying movies just because a company hypes their products really well, or there's a sale, or everyone else is doing it so why shouldn't I? I am a grown ass man and I should be able to think for myself, yet I still struggle with staying afloat in consumer culture. And I regrettably catch myself holding my nose high in the air towards people whose lives seem immersed in objects. It's none of my goddamn business what people spend their money on. Yet every now and then I'll see someone post a stack of the latest VinSyn releases and I'll think to myself, “You fell for it again, nerd.” Granted, if you spent $32 on Orgy of the Dead (1965) you're a schmuck. But hey, I'm not your mom. Do whatever you want.