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There was a period in film history, after the advent of the VCR and before the Generation Y takeover, where people traded VHS copies of their movies on an underground circuit that spread all over the world. The modern incarnation of this is the ‘viral’ video, or, a video that racks up a lot of views on YouTube. But, if you’re old enough, you can remember a time when this was essentially done by hand (or, if you’re a Y-er, you can Google it).
There’s something romantic about it really. Each video had to be copied with noisy machines that spooled magnetic tape around heads that needed to be cleaned and would break after so many revolutions. Each tape was an artifact adorned with the fingerprints of the previous owner, or in many cases, the filmmaker himself. It was personal and exclusive and you had to be in the know to be blessed with a particular video’s presence.
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