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 that Harry Brewis‘s opinions about film and TV are valued by an audience online, and led him to begin a series of video essays on the subject, Scanline. The first video in the series speaks about that most archaic form of home 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 the one vinyl is in the midst of right now, and 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 ratio meant films on VHS were often cropped and edited, changing what was shown. In the case of Aliens, this meant missing out on some iconic cat acting – shameful!
Harry’s video speaks a lot about something that anyone “above 20 or [with] 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 it’s on pause than when it’s playing” – and these are often the first things that come to mind when considering the format. Something that’s harder and more impressive is to reevaluate the format and 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 also speaks on the format’s ability to expose viewers 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-toothed comb, 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 deep-dive 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!