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The past becomes the present

VHS is back, but it’s not the only old item again in vogue

As often happens in history, what was old is often new again. But could anyone have anticipated the return of VHS?

The VHS tape – a late ’70s invention about the size of a Whitman’s Sampler candy box that first enabled us to see movies on demand – appears to have made a comeback, according to the Washington Post.

Long after Blockbuster Video dominated the VHS market, only one of its stores remains open – in Bend, Oregon. But as the Post reports, plenty of people held onto their old VHS tapes despite advances in digital media and streaming. And some have returned to the video store market.

“It’s exploded,” Josh Schafer, the editor in chief of Lunchmeat, a magazine dedicated to celebrating and preserving VHS and video store culture, told the Post. 

Theories abound that the return to VHS is nostalgia related. That may be so, because it wouldn’t be the first time – nor likely the last – for something old to be new again. 

Remember vinyl records? They fell out of favor in the ’80s with the advent of CDs, but for about a decade now, they’ve been on a roll, reports the New York Times. But nostalgia is also a factor; digital music doesn’t always cut it as an optimal experience, say diehard music fans. 

Other examples of what is old being new again include ever-changing fashion. Bell bottoms popular in the hippie generation in the ’70s have been resurrected more than once. Aviator sunglasses that hailed from Italy in the 1950s are back, too.

Hear are others:

Disposable cameras: Since 2018, internet searches for disposable cameras have more than tripled, according to digitalcameraworld.com, with a 338% jump in searches in the past five years. In that same time frame, searches for traditional cameras have dropped by more than a third. 

Hairstyles: Chic again are the ’60s era pixie cut; the shag of the ’70s; and the feathered Farrah Fawcett, named for the late “Charlie’s Angels” actress whose poster graced many a young man’s bedroom during the show’s run from 1976 to 1981. And remember those bobby pins your mother forced into your hair? They’re new again, too.

Business logos: Pepsi, Burger King and Burberry have all brought back logos of the past. Kodak alone has reengineered its familiar look seven times between 1907 and now. 

Songs: Some get resurrected when the artists who created them pass on, such as Michael Jackson, who has sold 16.1 million albums and billions of streams since his death in 2009, according to Stacker. “Dreams,” by Fleetwood Mac, was released in 1997 and resurrected in 2020. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” came out in 1987 then created buzz again in 2012.

Writers: The list of old authors who became new again could, well, fill a book, according to the Expert Editor. Sylvia Plath was a young woman when she died by suicide, but didn’t earn a Pulitzer until 1982. Emily Dickinson’s complete works weren’t published until decades after her death. Stieg Larrson, author of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” died in 2004; the book became a huge hit four years later, with Larrson named that year’s second best-selling author. 

Among things to keep in mind about the old being new again is that the first go-round for such trends was lost to generations too young to remember them in the first place. 

Food for thought. 

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