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Friday, March 18, 2011

The VCR Repairman: A Dying Breed

As yet another sign of the times, DeVry announced earlier today that they are officially nixing VCR Repair from their vocation college.  As of the 2011 fall semester, the program will no longer be offered as a major, nor will any of it's prerequisites (including the freshman-favorites "how to turn on a tv," and "where's this black rectangle go?").  Several universities like Vadderot College and ITT Tech are expected to follow suit.  Though many anticipated the announcement of a DVD player or Blue-Ray Player Repair major to be made at the same press conference, no such plans have been made public as of yet.
The always elusive black rectangle
"The thing is," DeVry dean Marchie Clamatto said following the press conference, "DVD players are so cheap these days, it's more cost efficient to just throw it out and buy a new one than it is to have it repaired.  I mean, this isn't 1989, right? ... No, seriously.  It's not 1989 is it?  I've been in a coma." 

It's not, dude.  But we get what you mean.  And it's a sad commentary on the manufacturing industry as well, especially when one considers how much of this fragile planet's natural resources we waste when we create, package, and ship cheap products that are designed to last less than 2 years. But that's not the point today.  The point is that our little world keeps changing, and sometimes the most direct way we can see that change is through technology (or lack thereof).  After Sony officially said goodbye to the Walkman earlier this year*, it only paved the way for VCRs to be the next to go.  It was just a matter of when.

That "when" was today.  And though it's only natural to see the numbers of skilled VCR craftsmen dwindle as time passes, what will they move onto?  Many early-adapters have found work in the past 20 years converting old VCRs into bastardized copies of Johnny 5 from the popular film franchise Short Circuit.  But as the robot craze enters hysterics, and technology gets smaller and smarter, Johnny 5 too has been left in the digital dust.
Just think of the possibilities!

"We're all kind of wondering where to go from here.  Nobody wants a Johnny 5.  Most kids don't even know who or what he is.  So what do I do?" Dan "VCR Guy" Browning said as he waited for his unemployment check.  "Do I become a DVR repair man?  A Blue Ray dar detector or whatever those egg heads do?  Or do I become so consumed with sadness that I slowly destroy my body with pills and alcohol like every honest American should when they face failure?"  All good questions, none of which have an easy answer.

Time will determine the fate of these former technological frontiersmen.  For now though, they can only move forward one step at a time.  Mainly because the lines at unemployment take forever, but also partially because most VCR repairmen have really weak legs on account of the fact that they started sitting on their asses almost two decades before the rest of the country did.  Shin splints or no shin splints, they truly are part of the Greatest Generation.

For Great Scott!, I'm Great Scott!, reporting live from Bahrain.

*wait, they didn't?  Then what was all that hub-bub about?  Oh, they're not discontinued, they just won't produce them anymore^, gotcha.
^In Japan.  But don't worry, China will still make them.  They make everything!

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