VHS, Tapes Me Back

By Isabella Brady

Today, we know a world of blu-ray, Netflix, and digital entertainment. However, up until 2008, VHS tapes were manufactured as the media currency of the respective era. To this day, seeing one of these vibrantly colored cartridge sleeves reconciles memories of the past.

Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, The Lion King, Toy Story, Joey, Goofy, Bambi, Napoleon—these and a plethora of others always lined the entertainment shelf at my grandma’s house. Of her impressive collection, my childhood favorite was undoubtedly Homeward Bound, I mean who can beat that invigorating plot? (in the eyes of a five year old, this praise was a feat rarely surmounted). In particular, these Disney and Pixar VHS tapes had an enticing quality: their covers. While the tape cartridges themselves were not at all exciting, holding (and satisfyingly opening)  one of the glossy, bulky, clamshell cases was something else altogether. Gazing at the colorful, detailed spines today, I can recall innumerable lighthearted occasions in which my brother and I eagerly debated over which of the dazzling covers we should choose before sliding it into the VCR—preparing for an evening of quality entertainment. 

Just the aroma of the VHS tapes (don’t judge me) is enough to take me back. I am not quite sure how to describe it, but I’d say it’s a mix of unknown materials and hot plastic—which are ironically comforting now. Sadly a few favorites of our VHS collection were casualties to repeated use and the VCR machine, but all were thoroughly enjoyed. 

Although VHS tapes might bring nostalgia for some, others might have no idea what I’m talking about—it’s okay. While the majority of my memories are happy ones, VHS tapes bring me back to the many occasions when the tape was still playing the credits from a previous use when we turned on the television—cue the three plus minutes of mechanical whirring to rewind the entire movie. Whether I’m reminiscing these bittersweet memories, or stumble across one of these ‘relics,’ VHS tapes will always be a treasured artifact that brings me back to my childhood (and my early cinematic exploration). For now, I will continue to watch my favorite shows…on Netflix.