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FANDOM FLAMES: Let’s get physical (media)

Keep collecting those physical media items--you never know when you'll need them.

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As I find myself surrounded by physical media in the form of DVDs, Blu-Rays, books, posters and art, and even T-shirts, I am forced to admit that perhaps I’m a bit of a fandom hoarder. But in a world where streaming has become the hot ticket, and films and TV shows can disappear from Netflix or Amazon Prime or HBO Max or any of the other streaming services at any point, it makes sense to me to hoard DVDs and Blu-Rays, especially. So many movies are available for rent or purchase on iTunes and various other services, but if they get taken down, you might lose your already-purchased copy. Many people have been lamenting just that with this week’s news of the Madefire digital comics app shuttering.

That doesn’t happen with physical media. Once it’s yours, it’s yours, unless you sell it or give it up or lend it to a friend who never gives it back to you. There’s also something nice about the physicality of such DVD/Blu-Ray sets; they represent something tangible, something you can hold, even display, if you’re so disposed to. There are also some companies, like The Criterion Collection, which craft really thoughtfully made sets, with plenty of bonus features and typically a pretty nice booklet with essays and photos from the film or films in question.

There are also the director’s commentaries, which typically you can’t find on streaming services, and while they’re increasingly out of style with newer releases, they can usually be found on older DVDs, especially. The commentaries for the original Star Trek movies, in particular, were great for getting a special insight on the movies, usually from one of the directors. There was also a bonus text commentary that told you everything you possibly needed to know about the behind-the-scenes of the movies.

But then there’s the question of physical media like art and posters and things like T-shirts. Obviously, I can only wear so many, but I find myself collecting them, and other fandom clothing, at an intense velocity sometimes. I suppose you could call me someone who shops for comfort, as opposed for reason. With the art and posters, I can decorate my walls and pay homage to fan artists I admire, as well as financially support them. The T-shirts, though, I can’t really justify, other than that I like having a colorful wardrobe, and I like wearing my fandom heart on my sleeve, clearly.

I own a Kindle, but I always have a hefty quantity of books, because a Kindle can’t really compare. Not only that but there are still a lot of books you can’t find on a Kindle, whether they be entirely out of print or academic press books that are prohibitive price-wise on a Kindle. I was never one for action figures, but I understand people who are. I also collect Playbills from the theatre I’ve seen, and I intend to get right back to it once theatres re-open.

I can justify most of my physical media holdings, and I’m guessing you can, too. Whether or not we should be is another question–do we need to hoard like dragons? And if you don’t hoard your fandom treasures like a dragon, why not? Are you like me, coming back from cons with armfuls of merch? Why or why not? Obviously, money is a huge factor, and how you choose to spend yours is your own business. What are some of your favorite physical media to have for your very own?

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