Your DVDs Are Bad And You Should Feel Bad

Your elaborate DVD packaging sucks.

With every passing Tuesday, more and more DVD releases wash up and beach themselves onto the shelves of various stores like so many hapless, garishly-packaged whales. It seems that DVDs have slowly but surely become the toys for the emotionally stunted. With more films and TV shows released, and more formats for them to be released on, the home video market consists of nothing more than the kinds of one-upmanship last seen during the video game “console battles” of old. (Have we learned nothing from the Sega Genesis-Super Nintendo “Blast Processing” wars of ’92?)

Unlike the bare-bones releases of old, DVDs are now full of commentaries, documentaries, special features and, in the especially unfortunate case of Dr Who DVDs, sometimes have amateur comedy sketches made by people who had nothing to do with the video you paid to see.

And you’re getting bilked for it.

If you’re buying a newly-released DVD, you really shouldn’t have to pay more than sixteen bucks for it. Instead, you’re paying anywhere from twenty-five to forty bucks because most of the releases are infested with negligible “special features” you never would’ve asked for. How many DVDs do you own that have hours of behind-the-scenes footage you’ve never watched?

Admit it, you never gave a damn about how difficult the Batmobile was to operate in The Dark Knight. You couldn’t bring yourself to listen to all four commentary tracks for Fight Club, either.

And Zod help you if you listened to the commentary for In The Mouth Of Madness. I love John Carpenter like he were some kind of tasty cupcake, but the man uncovers all-new dimensions of boredom in that feature-length chasm of disinterest.

The funniest aspect of home video marketing has to be the fetishizing of DVD boxes. Now, occasionally this has been worthwhile, like when the controversial Snuff was released in a brown paper bag with only the title written on it in Sharpie, or the neatly-packaged box sets for Futurama and South Park. However, I’m pretty sure a giant replica of the Full House exterior is the epitome of stupid and wasteful. Same goes for that Halloween DVD that comes with a miniature Michael Myers mask. It’s too small to wear, but too big to be placed on a figurine… That’s two inconveniences for the price of one! Oh, and can someone explain to me why you’d want to own Watchmen in a case shaped like Dr. Manhattan’s head? (Furthermore, can someone explain to me why they would want to own Watchmen?)

When DVDs were first available on the market, they had little more than a widescreen copy of the film, trailers for the film and maybe a commentary. Those original DVDs were as choc full of stuff as they needed to be. Any extra special features would ideally be available independently from iTunes—that way, if you really wanted 90 hours of Peter Jackson talking about how he convincingly got Elijah Wood to seem short, you can buy it.

Adam Clarke


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14 August 2008

  1. James · August 14, 2008

    Elaborate packaging was probably thought of in an attempt to take back DVD sales that have been lost to illegal internet distribution. “Mini-bust of Dr. Manhattan, let’s see them make that into a torrent!”

    Too bad they didn’t just sell the DVDs in returnable, reusable cases for those of us who chuck the packaging and put them into carrying cases.

  2. Rodney Wall · August 14, 2008

    I just have to stick up for “Watchmen”.
    It’s a totally flawed movie (with the most hilarious sex scene since “300”), but I enjoyed enough to go see it twice in the theatre, and I look forward to sitting down and watching the “way too fucking long” directors cut. It’s big, and weird, and campy, and I like it.
    Having said that, I don’t need Dr. Manhattan’s head.

    And I can’t believe that people would pay to watch “Full House”.