This film is a treasure, one of the strangest, most bizarre, most fascinating music documentaries ever made. You probably haven’t seen it before and you’ve certainly never seen anything like it.
This is “So Wrong They’re Right“, a documentary from the mid-1990s about the underground movement of 8 track collectors. Made by the editor of the popular 8 Track Mind magazine, Chicago musician Russ Forster, the film never received a wide release in the ’90s but did score some underground film festival love. Mostly, though, people saw it on bootlegged tapes of unknown origin that a friend had. I know nobody who has seen it and owns a copy – everyone seems to have “a friend” that had it. Or the same friend.
Looking back at it from the context of 2014, it’s obviously an early look into the Format Wars – or at least the people who elected to pick up the gauntlet to fight them. The relation to vinyl is somewhat relevant – I don’t want to overstate it – but some of this language is easily relatable:
Welcome to the 8 track underground, the vanguard of the analog revolution … This is a statement of outrage and rebellion from people who have opted out of a disposable consumer culture.
It’s interesting to note how “obsolete” technologies and formats have mushroomed in the years since. Cassettes are a quirky novelty. Vinyl of course “died” and clawed back from the dead. VHS has gone the way of BetaMax. The progress of forced obsolecence by media companies is noted in this collection of additional footage from Forster that make up 8 Track Mind issue #100, which contained a VHS tape and was posted to YouTube a year ago:
Forster himself has made something of an analog comeback, at least according to this piece:
“If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have said no,” he says. The Illinois native has been involved in the underground music scene since the 1980s. … Vinyl continues to sell and Forster believes it’s because there is a more impacting experience gained through analog listening. “No one gets sentimental with CDs, but they do with vinyls and 8-tracks,” Forster says. “Analog and emotion are more closely aligned than digital.”