Wednesday, 9 April 2014

On being a member of the "Video Generation"


I was born in 1990,  which means that I grew up in a time when videotapes were the norm when it came to distributing movies, TV shows or cartoons. My family had a VCR, a stack of Disney tapes,  and because we didn't have cable and my mother didn't like for us to watch the violent cartoons of the day, my sister and I took to watching the same movies (The Little Mermaid, The Great Mouse Detective, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc) over and over and over again.

Recently it struck me that Millenials were really the first generation to be able to do that (watch movies over and over and over at home). Before the advent of commercial distribution of videocassettes, a child would get to watch a movie in theatres upon its original release (several times if they were lucky) and wouldn't get to see it again until it was revived in theatres of broadcast on television. But my generation, we had our favourite movies at our fingertips, and we could watch them every day, maybe even twice a day, from the comfort of our own homes. We didn't get the "first movie experience" that the kids who came before us did.

It makes me wonder if this has had any bearing on the way we consume our media, art, and entertainment. I don't mean to say that watching movies from home (and watching them repeatedly) is any better or worse than seeing them in theatres, but I do think that repeated viewings of a particular movie during a child's formative years can have an impressive impact. If nothing else, it becomes a deeply personal memory to the child, because they've experienced the movie in their own home, in a familiar surrounding with the freedom to get up and sing along or act out the movie as they're watching it. A child who has the opportunity to watch The Little Mermaid every day (like I did as a little girl) is likely to develop a very strong attachment to the film. The "message" of the film will be ingrained in her mind just as firmly as the lyrics of "Under the Sea."

Certainly there are varying degrees of interest and attachment for each child, but I have definitely noticed that people my age and around it are all incredibly nostalgic for their favourite childhood movies in a way people of my mother's generation (and even the generation before her) are not. I think that affects the way we consume media today: vociferously consuming media, keeping meticulously up-to-date on our favourite TV shows, and engaging in what I like to call "Submersive Media Therapy" (a fancy term for holing oneself up binge-watching movies and TV via DVDs, Netflix or internet streaming sites).

It's funny that we're so often derided for consuming media in this way when our parents the Boomers (who were the first generation to grow up with television as an ever-present force in their everyday home lives) saw no problem in plunking us down with a copy of our favourite movie and allowing us to press rewind and play it yet another time.

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