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Our Crack Snapper
With the death of Blockbusters and the near death of HMV it seems that the long-term health of analogue man and woman is very much in doubt. Or so many businessmen hope or would have you believe. My suspicion, however, is that most people prefer physical product to the digital equivalent. Denied physical product by the contraction of retail outlets consumers have been forced to consider the alternative. The expense of CDs and DVDs hasn’t helped either, especially as the proliferation of CD cover mounts have made consumers question industry assumptions about what CDs and DVDs are actually worth. As analogue man or woman digitally download or resort to the restoration of mental health through regular consumption of second hand LPs, CDs and videos, the boosters and buyers of digital claim job done and that physical product is now virtually dead. As these boosters are normally the kind of neo Thatcherite, let-the-market-decide Tories maybe we should treat their predictions with the utter contempt we usually reserve for anything else they have to say. Proof that the death of physical product has been greatly exaggerated is that CDs and DVDs still sell in great numbers in places like HMV or the local Tescos and that independent record shops continue to do well. Facts like these are uncomfortable for those that need digital to be totally dominant. It’s tempting to think that these people won’t be happy until the citizens of the UK no longer emerge from their homes as they work, shop, vote, meet and entertain digitally. What greater way to achieve the death of society. Thatcher’s greatest aim, sneered at thirty years ago, now a palpable reality. For 1984, read 2014, beautifully Orwellian. It may be a hope too far to suggest that analogue in all its wonderful variety can make a comeback but CDs and DVDs have a chance if they’re allowed to without being artificially squeezed out by a free market (which is never quite as free as capitalists would have you believe). The fact is, given a chance, shoppers still want to buy ‘things’. Physical product is still valued. Maybe this view will become old fashioned, maybe it already is. Maybe it’s this kind of naivety that keeps modernity at bay. Maybe we are the problem. Hanging on to mouldy old LPs and battered CDs we are the machine smashers of the 21st century, the Luddites who stand in the way of the unstoppable march of digital. Out of date, out of time, fifty quid notes clutched in our sweaty hands as we search for that first Au-Pairs EP on vinyl or that Best Dressed Chicken in Town on CD or that Source 12 inch featuring Candi Staton; questing against all available evidence, the last of the species who remember what it was like to wear out shoe leather in the search for product. Sad bastards; running from digital death with all the strength we can still muster.