Is it necessary to save dreck? Yes. Bad art says as much about an age as the fine-quality works that supposedly define the era. It can say more, too. If all you knew about the post-war period were movie musicals and abstract art, you’d have an incomplete picture. Then again, if all you knew about the 70s was gore, shock, disgust and cheap production values, you could probably guess the rest. Anyway, Yale has a new collection. Atlantic says they now have . . . 
2,700 VHS tapes from the 1970s and ’80s, making Yale the only U.S. institution that deliberately collects these horror and exploitation movies in magnetic tape format. While these movies obviously aren’t equivalent to the work of Francis Bacon or Isaac Newton, they do carry their own cultural weight, and will hopefully allow researchers to explore the home-video revolution of the time, as well as the cultural mores and politics of the Reagan era they emerged in.

Not sure how something that began in the 70s emerged in the Reagan era. More:

When VHS broke into the popular consciousness in the early ’80s, the demand for it was immediate. To set tapes apart and guarantee profitability, distribution companies like Wizard Video, Thriller Video, and Media Home Entertainment commissioned box art containing shocking, lurid, and gory imagery of sex and violence. Big boxes were quickly introduced, adding several inches of real estate to the original slip covers in order to entice viewers. Not to mention the gimmicky boxes introduced by companies like Imperial Entertainment, who created 3-D molded covers that also featured light and sound effects.

The movies are the inheritors of the grindhouse tradition, which predated VHS. Same audience: jaded pervs. Just because the movies are worthy of preservation doesn’t mean they’re any good. But there will always be those who find what they want to find in such things:

Beyond the downfall of the individual in the face of sudden change, the low-rent slasher film City in Panic depicts what some felt to be the crumbling of society’s moral core. Originally titled The AIDS Murders, City in Panic was released on VHS by Trans World Entertainment in the midst of the HIV epidemic in 1986. The movie depicts the brutal killing of gay men—who are eventually revealed to be on a list of AIDS patients—during sexual acts. The picture uses the AIDS crisis as a cheap plot device, ignoring the complexities of the disease as it struck many American communities. It reflects the religious right’s fear at that time of the seemingly impulsive sexuality of outsider groups.  

Does it now.

BREAKING NEWS From the collection of old Tribunes we’ve been sifting through, a front page ad. Front page. Above the fold!

Below was an ad, just as big, for HOT CAKES.

And now, back to watching the markets.