A little while ago, while working my way through various titles in my DVD collection, I came to discover something very worrying – my DVD collection was degrading. Not one disc, not two, but a considerable chunk of my collection was falling apart right before my eyes.
Do I mean the discs were crumbling to touch?
No. In fact, they looked as sturdy as ever.
Do I mean the discs were all battered and scratched, as if they had somehow got mixed up with the doorstop and had been skidding around my floor for months?
No. The discs looked all shiny and new, just like they did the day I bought them.
In fact, all of the discs in my collection were in surprisingly good nick – at least aesthetically anyway. No, it was what was going on below the surface that was the issue here.
The problem only presented itself when I popped a DVD disc into my Blu-ray player only to discover (half-way through the movie) that said disc would no longer play. At first I figured the disc was just having issues with my player, so I ejected it and tried it on the PS4 – but the problem continued.
Ah well, it was frustrating, but not the end of the world. I’d simply watch something else.
And then it happened again. Multiple discs, over successive days, all tested in numerous players and all the same – they simply wouldn’t play beyond a certain point. In some cases, they wouldn’t even play at all.
Why were so many discs no longer working? It’s not like this had happened before, right?
Oh, wait – there was the time where I worked my way through all ten seasons of Friends on DVD only to discover the last five minutes of the very last episode wouldn’t play. But that was just a glitch, right?
Yes, just a glitch – a glitch similar to when I tried and failed to play Clueless on DVD a couple of years ago.
Oh, and when I tried and failed to watch Jumanji. And Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. And Mamma Mia! And…
….oh, sweet jeez, this has been happening for a while now. How did I not notice?!
It was at this stage that I did a quick Google search to see what was going on with my DVDs and within two minutes I had my answer – digital degradation! From reading various posts, it seemed clear that DVDs were not the indestructible format they had once been marketed as and this was because digital discs degrade over time.
While DVDs are supposed to last ‘a lifetime’ (80-100 years, give or take), I had evidence (a big pile of degraded discs) which suggested this ‘lifetime’ was a lot shorter than expected. Other people also had evidence of this shortened lifespan, so it wasn’t just a ‘me thing’.
Perhaps the only reason I hadn’t noticed this problem sooner was because over the past few years I’ve decreased my DVD collection, while systematically increased my Blu-ray collection. In fact, I’ve not bought a DVD in years; I’ve instead opted for Blu-rays – the far superior format, right?
Well, no. Blu-rays can also be susceptible to digital degradation. So, give it another ten years and no doubt I’ll be harping on about this same situation again.
So what is the biggest problem here, apart from the fact that a lot of my DVDs are now effectively overpriced coasters? Well, it’s the sinking feeling that while I know NOTHING LASTS FOREVER, I know I am still doomed to buy the same films and TV shows over and over and over again, on formats that simply won’t last the test of time.
Yeah, DVDs (and Blu-rays) are considered something of the past and streaming is the future, but I still like the idea of holding onto the DVDs I already own, until such time as I decide to move on. But maybe it’s time to get over this concept, in the same way I got over physical comics, by transitioning from hard copies to digital editions.
And yes, I do get the irony of switching to digital comics after just discussing the problem I’m experiencing with digital degradation. But that won’t affect my comics, will it?
Ah, crap – it will! It bloody will!
Why is nothing sacred?!?!
*Raises clenched fist up to the sky*
I think I’m going to have to get used to appreciating what I have for as long as I have it and get used to buying the same old stuff over and over again. I’ve bought the Burton/Schumacher Batman movie Anthology (1989-1997) on pretty much every format it has ever been released on, so I guess this is nothing new for me.
But when is enough, enough?
Simple answer? Never.
I am forever doomed to remain in the cycle I’m trapped in. Maybe I should just work on the principle that if I consider a movie worthy of a Blu-ray purchase (or a digital purchase), then I’d best watch the hell out of it while I can, when I can, to make it worthwhile. Either that or I pray that someone figures out a way to stream Superman: The Movie, Aladdin and Sister Act direct to my brain, without the need for any further purchase ever again.