Down the market

21:24, May 28 2013

A few weeks back I was blogging about the end of scarcity. I was reminiscing about the difficulty of finding and watching many titles in my 1980s childhood and how you would often have to wait years before you saw a film again after the cinema release. But now you can find any movie you like with a quick internet search or a trip to the DVD store.

Well, today I went to Riccarton market in Christchurch and was confronted with a living, breathing example of what the end of scarcity looks like.

It started with a book stall that had a cardboard box on the end of one of the trestle tables. The box was full of artefacts from another age. It was full of VHS cassettes. I took a picture of two titles included in this ragbag mix of old movies:


The original 1981 Evil Dead is a perfect example from the age of scarcity. In the UK, where I grew up, The Evil Dead was banned as part of a weird moral panic about what were called "Video Nasties". If you wanted to see it, you couldn't. Well, you could, but you had to know a friend who knew a friend who could get a fifth generation copy. Very odd. But, 30 years later, here I am in Riccarton Market with a copy in my hand. This "shocking" artefact from another age for sale at the strange price of 50 cents. If only I could hand it back through a time portal to my younger self.


And next to Evil Dead is a film called Robot Jox. I took a pic of that because I had completely forgotten about this film. Watching the trailer again this afternoon, I was struck by how similar the idea is to Guillermo del Toro's forthcoming Pacific Rim. Check out the trailer below and you'll notice that both the trailer for Robot Jox and Pacific Rim have the fist into the palm of the hand move.

So, after my little nostalgia trip, I walked further into the market and saw this:

And this:

In just a few paces I had moved from the age of 1980s scarcity to 21st century plenty. Two dollars I ask you. It doesn't seem so long ago when DVDs were highly prized and reasonably expensive techno wonders that gave access to a vast wealth of movies at a level of quality never imagined. But now they are stacked on trestle tables and sold for $2 each. Man, the bottom fell out of the DVD market quickly.

Buying DVDs now feels like buying VHS tapes in about 1999. Downloads and streaming movies from the cloud are clearly the future.

So, there you go, I've seen the future and it is Riccarton Market. An age of plenty where you can pick up a bargain, find a jolting reminder of the past and eat a spicy bratwurst. I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny weekend afternoon.

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