‘The demise of physical media’ is all right by Mom and me
By Mark Rutledge
Saturday, September 7, 2019
Letter writing is not what it used to be, so I get excited when something arrives in the mailbox with my name on it. No letters lately, but in the span of two weeks the same friend mailed movies, on DVD, that he thought I would enjoy.
I watch movies these days about as often as I write letters. And when I do watch, I’m in the habit of using one remote to navigate the internet streaming service.
The cellophane around those DVDs remained unbroken for days, but that changed last Sunday evening during a visit with my mother.
Mom and I usually supplement our conversation with a little network television. But none of her favorite news shows, singing competitions or Hallmark Channel offerings was airing.
Just as I was settling into the quiet, I remembered the unopened movies, one of which was “Young@Heart,” a 2008 documentary about a senior citizens chorus from New England that performs rock songs.
I trotted down the hill to my house and was back with the DVD before Mom could punch in the power settings for microwave popcorn — which would turn cold long before the movie started.
If you want to have some fun, hand a DVD about singing senior citizens to a couple of ordinary senior citizens who have not operated a DVD player for quite some time.
“You just push the button and the thing comes out,” Mom said.
“I can’t even seea button,” I responded on hands and knees.
“I’ll go and get the flashlight,” she said. “That’s how I adjust the thermostat.”
“Bring me some reading glasses, too,” I yelled after her.
It was no good. The machine has three buttons and no words to indicate what they do. We finally got the disc loaded but still could not activate the “play” feature. For that you need the remote — which is a perfect name for a gadget so difficult to locate.
Mom called my younger brother, who has at least as much white hair as I do — and who probably has not operated the DVD player since the most recent holiday viewing of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
“Look for the button that says ‘input,’” Jeff instructed.
“‘Input,’” I muttered. “‘Input’— I don’t see that word anywhere.”
“Well, try another remote,” he barked.
“I’ve tried three so far,” I snapped back.
“Look and see what name is on the DVD player,” Jeff continued in a halting must-I-think-of-everything tone, “and find the remote that has that same name.”
Once the correct remote was identified and outfitted with a fresh battery, Jeff’s assistance was further required for wading through a lengthy series of programming steps. That was because I touched a wrong button and made the “smart TV” forget that it ever knew the DVD player at all.
By the time the movie started, Mick Jagger looked older than those senior citizens performing a Rolling Stones song on the screen.
My film-aficionado friend later emailed a five-word message: “The demise of physical media.” Confused, I typed the words into an internet search engine.
What I found was a lot of people who collect “physical media” — things like CDs, DVDs and vinyl records — and who are not happy about most of those things now being streamed across the internet.
I love an old record player as much as anyone. But when it comes to watching movies, if they can fix it to where the internet operates the remote, me and Mom are in.
Contact Mark Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.