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There is probably no more humbling reminder of how much time has passed by than when The Fine Brothers’ "Kids React" series takes "old" things that were integral to your youth, sits young children down and shows them baffled as they handle them with an extreme antiquarian culture shock. Certainly, the latest episode of the YouTube series may have proven itself the most humbling for anyone who came of age during the reign of the VHS VCR. If you want to kick off your day by feeling old, then check it out!
"Kids React" utilizes a tried and true formula allowing adults an objective way to bask in the wonderment of intergenerational logic that almost mirrors "Kids Say the Darndest Things" hosted by Bill Cos…err, He Who Must Not Be Named. While they’ve done episodes spotlighting old video games, television shows and bands, this latest episode’s tackling of the VCR may be their biggest cultural white whale, yet.
Remember, this generation's formative years have included an already-evolved Internet. They generally ingrained with the idea that content such as movies and TV shows are perpetually accessible in The Cloud. So the VCR is an especially vexing idea, since it comes from an era when content was fleeting. The show or movie you wanted to watch would air, and you either caught it or missed it. The spirit of the VCR was that it was more of a preservation device to capture those fleeting moments; an idea that isn’t even a factor now with modern accessibility.
Thus, the very concept of a recording device that doesn’t download, stream and digitally store anything clearly doesn’t even register with the way these kids’ brains have been formed. It effectively shows how the mediums through which we watch movies have dramatically changed in only just under a decade. (Which, for these kids, has been most of their lives.) It also drives home the point even further when the kids are baffled as it is explained that the wear and tear on the physical ribbons of tape, themselves start to lose their magnetic potency, evoking that signature static after several viewings, creating the all-too-familiar moment when the VCR struggles to "track" the picture back into place.
In fact, for a good solid stretch from the 1980’s to the early 2000’s, the VHS player (who won the industry war against the Betamax format) was your primary gateway towards enjoying movies at home. Likewise, the traditional local "Be Kind, Rewind" video store was your facilitator whose business model seemed to have customers by the spools. While those businesses tried to stay relevant during the DVD era, the Promethean moment when movies had become digitized as data would sink the business model, since the medium’s broad compatibility could not keep content shackled exclusively to any physical format; something that the once-monolithic Blockbuster would learn the hard way last year when they finally went out of business.
Yet, seeing many of the young children in the video cite that they still primarily use the practically obsolete DVD format around their houses, it may show that we’re still very much in the midst of a transitional period. So, maybe "the future" isn’t quite here, just yet. Although, it’s clearly on the horizon.