Betamax Memories

When my sister and I were young, our parents told us about a magical, mysterious machine that would allow us to watch movies at home. I remember the awe, the wonder. But today, it’s hard to imagine. Watching movies at home? I’ve long since become inured to any feelings of revolution or amazement.

The opportunity to watch a movie in 3D, while sitting in traffic, that might provoke the same feelings.

Now, my parents purchased the Sony Betamax. As much as the machine would be lauded in the years to come as “ahead of its time,” it lost the war to the VHS, meaning that the local video store stocked a limited (and never updated) selection of movies for our infinite re-rental.  

I am reminded of that experience this weekend when I found Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on demand and watched it with my daughters. Growing up, there were only about ten options (if my memory serves) and each must have been at least a monthly rental.  So, somewhere encoded in the noggin, are all the lines to the following Mason’s Video Rental classics:

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking Goes On Board

Duran Duran’s Girls On Film (aka my intro to pornography)


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


Cloak & Dagger


or so the memory goes. It is amazing to remember a time where laughter wasn’t on demand, but was confined to a few memorized moments, and when titillation only referred to one illicit cassette in a small downtown store.  But with limitation comes great nostalgia and cherishing, something I’m less inclined to believe my daughters will ever experience.

Long live the limitations of the Betamax!

Leave a Reply