An inferior technology nobody wants; people have not even bothered to say goodbye to VHS, and why should they? Except in the sense that a standard video dub appears--at this point--to be more resilient and lasting than a standard consumer DVD-R, there are no advantages offered by VHS (as a medium) to the average person, and hence almost no more champions for its cause.
But it has a history, and I and many other cinephiles helped forge our cinephilia from this bastard thing, home viewing on television sets. The first good video store I knew was a local branch of Potomac Video, a local DC/Virginia/Maryland chain with pretty decent selection. There was one a five minute drive from my house, and I remember that when I was 16 I went to see a movie with my Dad at the second-run theater, and on the way back we stopped by Potomac, where we signed up for membership, and I checked out two videotapes--The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and (this was the really important one) Days of Heaven. Rentals were $2.50 for a week, and through my junior and senior years of high school I made a near regular habit of two rentals a week. (The other sources of film-viewing at this time were commercial theaters and the occasional foray into DC's small but competent repertory scene, as well as my growing collection of VHS tapes recorded off of television.) The "video store" had, until this time, meant Blockbuster and its ilk--now I had films to watch that I'd only been reading about for a few years: Godard, Tarkovsky, Tsui Hark. I remember renting and watching Playtime with my friend Sahar down in my basement-room one evening, and we laughed hysterically and we're moved by this profound comedy, and it was not long after that that I started calling Playtime my favorite film. I didn't even get to see it on celluloid until 4-5 years later. I can vouch--Playtime, as much as it should be seen on the big screen, really is a durable work of art.
When I was a senior in college, someone else I knew, Maureen, left my roommates & I a few videotapes that she no longer wanted--she was also from the DC area, and used to work at another branch of Potomac Video, and had purchased these trashy tapes for a buck apiece when her store was selling them off. I still have the tapes and have watched them--Enzo G. Castellari's 1990: Bronx Warriors and Steve Carver's Angie Dickinson vehicle Big Bad Mama.
Nothing can replace--and nothing should supplant--the experience of the cinema; but VHS and the presence of movies on the tube did offer a new set of possibilities for the cinema to allow people to relate with one another, directly or not, and this way is simply continued (possibly perfected?) by DVDs. But the idea of buying a packaged object with which is something that is not "of the future," and when DVD dies out too, it will only be as a facet of the blip of home viewing tradition initiated by videotape and laserdisc. Tomorrow we pay for a streaming video, or an account with storage space on a server somewhere, or something else ...
I can't be the only cinephile out there who's interested in rescuing rejects from these videotape purges, these trash bins, $1-5 for sometimes great and sometimes rare (unavailable on DVD!) titles. I can't be the only cinephile for whom VHS still offers some attraction, because sometimes the home viewing experience for me is not about approximating the best picture and sound possible, with proper aspect ratio even!--it may also be about reviving phantoms of what you already knew and saw, what you long only hoped to see, compromises intact, and simply keeping alive a trickle of an imperfect practice that helped open your eyes when you were an adolescent.