I have to admit something rather unfashionable: I still get excited about collecting Blu-rays.
I know, everything’s streaming now. Digital, downloadable, ephemeral… There’s no need to purchase hardcopies anymore. Movies, songs, novels, video games… They are simply taking up space in my living room. People love to tell me this. They love to tell me that I’m silly.
Even I can’t deny my physical data units have become something of a burden. I’ve moved thirteen times over the past twenty-five years, and every time, I’ve had to schlep yet more books, more graphic novels, and more movies than the time before. After dumping the fifteenth box of hardcovers into a U-Haul, I usually ask myself if I really need all this shit.
“I’m going to become a minimalist!” I proclaim. “Enough is enough!”
After all, how many times am I going to re-watch Superbad? Have I ever re-watched Superbad? I think I bought the DVD at a yard sale for a dollar. What a bargain! But now it just sits in my living room, between Super Troopers and Grandma’s Boy, guarding plywood from dead skin cells and dust motes.
When I buy a new Blu-ray, I tell myself I’m getting it for the extra features. I have to tell myself something, obviously—I already saw the movie in the theater for $15, so I’m seeking justification to shell out another $25. I’m spending even MORE money to own a copy so that I can watch… well… deleted scenes and gag reels? Because to hell with the director’s commentary, I’m trying to watch the freakin’ movie, here. Shut up, Ron Howard! I don’t care if you shot this scene on a good hair day, just let me hear Han Solo’s next line!
Of course, with the latest Blu-rays you also get those in-play visual inserts and interweb cross-reference thingies, like VH1 Pop Up Videos on steroids. Like that’s not annoying. So I don’t utilize those features, either.
About the only extra features I thoroughly enjoy are the “making of” documentaries. Now those are interesting! Unfortunately, they’re also very long, so I rarely bother. I just watched the movie, for crying out loud. I even stuck through the credits to watch Captain America give another public service announcement. Do I really want to dive right back into the whole thing?
So it’s back to the gag reels and deleted scenes, I guess. Except when I actually watch the deleted scenes—even when they’re seamlessly integrated into the extended vanity versions—I discover they’re horrible, and that’s why they were deleted in the first place.
Maybe I’m not buying them for the extra features, after all.
When I realize all this, I start to feel a bit foolish. I don’t consider myself a hoarder—I’ve been known to purge as often as I purchase, so perhaps my issue is more bulimic in nature. Not only that, but I try to select my acquisitions with great care. The overall idea, I suppose, is to end up with a net result that is worthy of archiving, a collection that nobly represents my passions and my hobbies, a pile of stuff that screams “Me!”
Because as annoying as it is to lug these discs around, as unlikely as it is that I will watch Superbad again, and as rarely as it is that I tap into the extra features, I still take pride in my collection. It’s not the discs themselves that matter, but the stories they told—stories that affected me, stories that mattered. Merely seeing them on my shelves reminds me of those stories. And those stories remind me of who I am.
Perhaps it’s time to let go of Superbad—I doubt it will survive the next culling—but you will have to pry The Karate Kid from my cold, dead hands. The Blu-rays that make the cut are far more than physical data units. They are nothing less than touchstones for my soul.