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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student


OPINION: In a streaming world, we need physical media


The next time you search for your favorite show or movie on streaming, it might not be there.  

Most of the time, it’s just rehomed – contracts run out, copyrights change and companies expand to new streaming platforms. It’s an entirely different story, however, when streaming services remove their own content, which might not end up somewhere else. 

Max removed around 20 original titles last year during the HBO Max/Discovery+ merger. Beloved comedy series “Arrested Development,” a show with two seasons produced by Netflix, was set to be removed in March – though the contract was renewed. Disney+ and Hulu removed even more of their own titles earlier this year. 

In the world of streaming, nothing is permanent. No matter how impactful a piece of media might be, a company can remove it without warning just to save a few bucks on residuals

In today’s climate, physical media is more important than ever. It’s stored on things you can touch instead of in the cloud – mediums like DVDs, CDs, books and much, much more. If we want to preserve our art for future generations, we have to start collecting physical media, or risk it all floating up to that big cloud in the sky. 

Sure, physical media is physical. It takes up space on your bookshelves. It degrades over time – just ask the VHS tapes that I can’t play with my family’s neglected VCR. 

It’s a small price to pay, however, to preserve your favorite pieces of media. Think about it – what would you do if your comfort show was taken off the internet today? If you bought the DVD version now, you can buy it one time and own it forever. No monthly service fee needed. 

The appeal of streaming platforms is to have hundreds of movies and TV shows at your fingertips at all times. But with recent removals, it’s difficult to justify trusting streamers to keep our favorite stuff around. 

[Related: OPINION: The internet's death by monetization]

As a kid, I loved picking through my parents’ extensive DVD and CD collection. Whenever I wanted, I could get my favorite movie, stick it in the player and go to town – no Wi-Fi connection required. It doesn’t get more user-friendly than that. I aspire to recreate that DVD collection with my own favorites. 

If you’d like to start expanding your physical media collection, whether it be through DVDs, CDs, records, books, games or anything else, there’s easy places to start. 

I get a lot of my DVDs from places like Goodwill and Half-Price Books, where they’re incredibly cheap. While not every store has gems, I occasionally stumble across a movie I know I need. I love reading physical books, as well, which I often order online through Thriftbooks or Biblio

By supporting physical media, you can also support dozens of small businesses. Here in Bloomington, you can find music at places like Landlocked Music and TD’s CDs and LPs. You can find books at Book Corner and Caveat Emptor Used Books, and video at places like Vulture Video. That just scratches the surface – be sure to shop around, because there’s lots to find. 

I can’t help but compare this time to an era over 100 years ago, when silent films were at their peak. Despite the thousands of films produced during this time, roughly 14% of silent films survive to this day. Some decomposed due to the unstable film they were produced on, while others were scrapped or repurposed by studios once talkies rolled around. 

We’re doomed to repeat this history if we don’t learn from it. No piece of media, however unimportant or unprofitable, should be relegated to the garbage bin of history. We need to work together to preserve the art that makes our lives so wonderful. 

[Related: COLUMN: Summer Blues: film, an unconventional form of therapy]

Streaming services are still useful to find new and exciting media without shelling out money for them upfront. If you like it, however, consider going out and buying the DVD to keep it around. Just because it’s gone from the cloud shouldn’t mean it’s gone forever. 

Danny William (they/them) is a sophomore studying media. 

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