Recently, Pitchfork TV put up a recorded performance of the pop-hardcore band Fu*ked Up. It was recorded on a VHS camera, and I thought, "oh no, here we go"...
I guess for an indie band worried about purity and obsessed with hardcore-ness, using a VHS camera is kinda cute, but god, what if those flatline mumblecore nerds started using it???
However, there's another side to the sustained life of VHS tapes, and that's that they're the best we've got for a lot of older films which haven't been transferred to DVD yet... and may never be! Zack Carlson, a local programmer at a specialty theater here in Austin, puts it into perspective best:
VHS is crucial, not just as nostalgia but also because it's a viable way to grow as a person who appreciates movies. Only 25 percent of the movies ever made prior to the birth of VHS were ever actually released on home video. Today, approximately 50 percent of the movies that were available on VHS are now available on DVD. So you're looking at huge sections of films that were just lost. I think there's about 90,000 feature films – besides porn – that are available on DVD, which means that there's another 90,000 movies out there that people are willing to just let fade away if they're going to forego the VHS format.
And that alone makes VHS completely valid and an integral part of being a movie fan. I want to beseech people to not throw away their VCRs – or go get one for $5 at a garage sale – because VHS is that important. (Austin Chronicle)
I don't know if Carlson's percentages are correct, but even if they're somewhere in the ballpark, those are some frightening numbers to any hardcore movie fan. "Hardcore movie fan"... hmm. Maybe that's the problem right there. Maybe there aren't enough people around to care if small jewels like Abel Ferrara's China Girl or Jonathan Demme's Citizen's Band or Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud disappear off the shelf forever.
Moving Image Source posted an article this week about this very phenomenon of a "vanishing history":
(Dave) Kehr worries that the movies of important little-known American auteurs—for example, Lew Landers and André De Toth—are simply "vanishing into the ether," he says. "They’re just gone from the conversation and that’s unfortunate. The younger critics haven't seen this stuff, but how could they?" (Moving Image Source)