Video essays are a huge part of YouTube; here is another one, but different.
1.5 million views on a video about his problems with Sherlock showed Harry Brewis that his opinions about film and TV are valued by an audience online. This has lead him to begin a series of video essays about his take on the subject. Scanline was born.
The first video in the series speaks about that most archaic forms of media, VHS. VHS is something that has wholly been lost to the annals of time. It hasn’t even had a resurgence amongst people with too much disposable income, like vinyl is in the midst of right now. There is one good reason for that. The format is really bad. Like really bad.
The clips Harry shows us really drive home this point. His dissection of the VHS ‘pan and scan’ version of Aliens in particular, reveals how different the experience could be. The fact that TVs were in a 4:3 format meant films on VHS were often cropped or edited, changing what was shown. In the case of Aliens, this meant missing out on some iconic cat acting – shameful!
This video speaks a lot about something that anyone “above 20 or have parents that don’t throw things out” knows about but contextualises it in a way that few have done before. You may find it hits close to home, making you feel a little nostalgic and emotional (but perhaps that’s just us).
VHS has long been the butt of many jokes – “the film moves faster when its on pause than when its playing” – and jokes like these are often the first thing that comes to mind when considering the format. Something that’s harder and more impressive, is to recontextualise the format to show its positives.
Before VHS, our parents and grandparents couldn’t collate their own library of film and TV to watch any time they wanted. Never before could you watch an episode of London’s Burning or Goodnight Sweetheart at 2AM – what a new world it was! Harry speaks on the ability to be exposed to all sorts of new things, such as banned films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and how bringing films into the living room made the experience much more personal.
Now we’re not going to go through the 29 minute video with a fine toothcomb, as we’ve got to leave you a reason to watch the whole thing yourself. But it’s safe to say that it’s an incredibly well put-together video essay with an excellent level of polish. It’s a nostalgic deepdive into a topic that old people sometimes talk about, and we think that’s important. After all, we must know our history or else we’re doomed to repeat it!