Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Speaking Out: A collector’s wisdom

By  Peter Wilson, Youth Speak News
  • March 23, 2022

My college roommate collects movies from a prestigious home-video distribution company called The Criterion Collection. The company licenses, restores and distributes films it deems worthy of its collection.

The Criterion Collection sell the films in eye-catching cases that include a Blu-Ray disc, pamphlets with short, scholarly essays about the film and themed posters. Oh, and these are sold at a 150-per-cent markup, on average. 

It’s like an elitist club for movies, and owning Criterions is like an elitist club for cinephiles. How else will they prove their adoration of fine film? 

I’m caricaturing, but I often enjoy poking fun at my roommate for his collection of over 30 Criterions. I like to pick a random one from the shelf and say, “Hey, I just watched this on Netflix using my family’s subscription, for which I pay $2 a month.” Considering the hundreds of dollars he has poured into that shelf of Criterions, I always think this is a checkmate remark. 

In return, however, he just shrugs and replies, “But you don’t own it, do you?” 

I’d then ask why he paid more than double a film’s regular price when he could’ve just bought a standard edition, to which he’d explain that as a collector, he enjoys limited edition items. 

“But the bottom line is that I own these films,” he’d say. “They’re mine, and that won’t change unless somebody breaks in here and steals them.” 

And when I think of that, I begin to feel like I’ve cheated myself into a false sense of ownership of the films I watch and the music I enjoy. I’m the consumer who’s fallen for the gimmicks of our subscription economy, not him. When I watch a Netflix film, I don’t own it any more than I own the Thursday night football game on TSN. The same goes for my Spotify playlists. I’m just renting songs from the world’s biggest music library.

My roommate used to ask me what I’d do if all my favourite movies got “cancelled.” Considering the criteria for cancelling people and media is becoming broader by the day, this is not so distant a possibility. 

“Then you’d wish you had a Criterion Collection of your own.” 

While I don’t care for Criterion films, I still see his point. If there’s anything these last two years have taught us, it’s that our world can bait and switch without any prior warning. Everything we take for granted can disappear in a minute. 

The Canadian government froze hundreds of bank accounts of Freedom Convoy supporters under the Emergencies Act in February. Cryptocurrency holders breathed a sigh of relief as they remembered that no government could touch their decentralized savings. In the same month, fans of rock icon Neil Young realized they could no longer listen to his music on Spotify. All of a sudden, the “dinosaurs” who listened to Young on CDs and vinyl were the smart ones. 

Pondering all this, I recalled Christ’s parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. In Matthew 25, Our Lord tells a story in which 10 women each carry an oil lamp as they await the bridegroom’s arrival at the wedding reception in the middle of the night. While five of these women are smart and bring extra oil for their lamps, the other five do not. These latter five soon run out and are left in darkness. They beg the others for some oil, but they refuse. The women without oil run to buy some more. But when they arrive back at the wedding, they realize the bridegroom has arrived and shut the door behind them. The women beg to be admitted but are denied. 

The parable is warning us to be prepared for the end times. But, it still applies to what I’m saying here on a lower level. Our media and possessions are important. If we value a film enough to spend our time watching it again and again, that’s probably because it impacted us deeply. This is precious and we should take the proper steps to safeguard media like this.

(Wilson, 20, is studying for his Bachelor of  Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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