The day was cold, but the skies were uncharacteristically clear Dec. 8, a sad day in American popular culture history. Across the nation, Americans are facing the tearful goodbyes of a dear friend. A friend that was there in an instant, no matter the circumstance. A friend you could count on to remember crazy memories that you personally could not. Americans are saying their final farewells to Polaroid instant film.
Born in 1948 and rising to fame in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Polaroid instant film left a lasting mark on photo albums around the globe. With a distinguishable white frame around every photo, the Polaroid camera produced smiles, laughs and memories within seconds for 60 years.
This past year, rumors flew rampant that Polaroid was battling to stay alive. Despite valiant efforts by friends and family, the Polaroid company made the decision to pull the plug early this week. The news came as a shock and left many consumers flocking to Web sites and camera stores to stock up on as much of their beloved film as they could.
In a world that has turned digital, the disappearance of Polaroid instant film marks the end of a simpler time. It was a time that wasn’t about gigabytes, mega pixels or zooms; it was about capturing a single moment (not 150 of the same photo to get it just right).
Americans are falling into a digital world, which brings with it instant gratification and, quite frankly, laziness. Whatever happened to the importance of being able to physically hold something in your hand? This was the way Polaroid always operated, providing nostalgic-like qualities to every square photo.
This loss comes at the heels of the tragic demise of two other iconic fixtures in the United States. The Tribune Company, which encompasses 10 daily newspapers across the country and various other media outlets, is clinging to life, having just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week. The Rocky Mountain News, which has been around for 149 years, will also be taken off life support in the coming months. I suppose the old saying is true: Good things always do depart our world in threes.
While instant film may never be replaced, a new instant mini printer, the Pogo, has made an appearance on the market. Too soon? I’d say yes.
Memorial services have been scheduled when the final roll of film is manufactured at the end of this month.
Rest in peace dear Polaroid instant film. May you now be surrounded by millions of snapshots of the lives you helped to enrich and define.