The first video cassette recorders were promoted in the s as an extension of broadcast television technology–a time-shifting device, a way to tape TV shows. From Betamax to Blockbuster: video stores and the invention of movies on video, by Joshua M. Greenberg, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, Early advertising for Sony’s Betamax told potential purchasers “You don’t have to miss In From Betamax to Blockbuster, Joshua Greenberg explains how the.
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The result, a profound shift in the meanings and values conferred by such images and their genre. Arguably, the VCR has performed a similar function.
Images, albeit moving, which were once confined to one time viewing opportunities when broadcast or on the cinema screen, can now be stored, viewed, and reviewed at leisure. Thus, the spools of magnetic tape encased in plastic, and the black box which sits beneath the TV, are shown to be more than simple vectors of cultural distribution betqmax instead are entities worthy of analysis in their own right.
The VCR, as Greenberg shows, was invented and promoted by manufacturers with an avowed purpose in mind. In bloclbuster use, though, the technology became reinscribed, leading to a sociocultural shift the outcomes of which remain with us today.
From Betamax to Blockbuster by Joshua M. Greenberg
Such a slant allows him to follow the accurate assumption that the days of the videocassette as a viable storage medium are over. Analytically, befamax, he benefits, evading the need to frame his arguments with the disclaimer that future developments might throw a spanner into his theoretical works.
He is, he states, less interested in the beetamax of video technology, than in the knowledge systems which surround it. Video cassettes and VCRs have no inherent meaning or purpose, rather, significant actors related to those blocmbuster generate their own meanings over time, which come blockbster shape the development of that technology.
Further, by pulling his focus towards the VCR as a technological phenomenon, rather than a cultural one, Greenberg demonstrates his misgivings on the bifurcation of medium and message. The two should be conflated, he suggests, for to comprehensively understand the intricacies of one requires an awareness of the influence of the other. And so the story opens. In the mid-’70s, electronics giant Sony released the Betamax video cassette recorder to the American market.
This device, they suggest, will be used to shift time, revolutionising television watching as viewers are released from the shackles of broadcast schedules and instead able to record output for later playback.
From Betamax to Blockbuster by Joshua M. Greenberg – PopMatters
Due partly to technical constraints original Betamax tapes could only hold an hour of contentand partly to short-sightedness, Sony failed to see beyond time shifting. Early owners, seeking personal copies of movies or series not broadcast in their area, would travel, VCR in tow, to a place in which the show could be received. Soon, however, peer-to-peer sharing networks sprung up. It was these peer-to-peer networks which precipitated the transformation of the video recorder from the time-shifting device it was originally promoted as, to a machine for viewing prerecorded video cassettes.
Rather than the manufacturer having dictated the correct use to which their product be put, amalgams of users linked in loose social networks had revolutionised the meaning invested in the technological artefact known as the VCR. Unbeknownst to them, this activity would initiate a sea change in the consumer landscape which would be highly influential in the triumph of VHS over Betamax, and would eventually generate a whole industry, and indeed lifestyle choice, centered around a night in with a movie.
From the humble VCR radiates discussions and analyses on an array of interweaving topics. He traces the development of video rental stores as they move from the early, family owned, artisanal establishments to the international chains seen most commonly today.
The real fascination in this writing comes from the blockbustsr in which he explores these phenomena. Like an oral history, respondents, garnered from advertisements in trade magazines and through personal contacts, are encouraged to enter their personal narratives of involvement in the movie store scene. As movie rental gained momentum, so it influenced the on screen form the movies themselves took. Practical considerations, particularly the dimensions of the frkm screen versus that of the cinema, required consideration in the transfer of a movie from one medium to another.
The impact of such blockbutser led adjustments to the integrity of the movie as a cultural artefact became increasingly important as studios began to realise the centrality of the home video market to their profit margins. As such, artist and aesthetic judgements, and in particular one decision made by Woody Allen over the video release of Manhattanhave had lasting impact on the way movies are viewed in the ffom.
The narrative he traces provides a compelling, relevant, and often amusing precursor to technologies such as the DVD or harddisk enabled digital television, which are so central to the mediascape we currently inhabit.
As Greenberg notes in his blog, the text, the published write up of PhD research, was released as a trade publication rather than having been directed at a general audience. As such, its style and format is likely to be off-putting to a wide readership. Which is a shame, frim in both narrative and content From Betamax to Blockbuster is well worth a read.
Adam McKay’s gonzo Dick Cheney biopic satire, Vice, won’t be compared blocobuster Shakespeare, but it shares the Bard’s disinterest in supervillains’ motivations. The authors’ whose works we share with you in PopMatters’ 80 Best Books of — from a couple of notable reissues to a number of excellent debuts — poignantly capture how the political is deeply personal, and the personal is undeniably, and beautifully, universal.
From Betamax to Blockbuster | Josh Greenberg –
This year’s collection includes many independent and self-published artists; no mainstream or superhero comic in sight. Tk isn’t entirely irredeemable, but The House that Jack Built’ s familiar gimmicks say much more about Lars von Trier as a brand than as a provocateur or artist. Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk is a near-perfect success both as a grand statement of solidarity and as blocckbuster gorgeously wrought, long-overdue story of black life and black love.
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