To some people, the true star of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was not Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, or even Leonardo DiCaprio. Nope, it was that sweet, sweet McIntosh MVP861 universal disc player which gets its own loving closeup at one point in the Oscar-wining crime drama. Viewers with this particular bent should immediately turn their attentions to A.V. Plays Itself, a tech-focused Tumblr devoted to, in the words of its own simple mission statement, “audio-visual technology in film & television.” Here, one will find dozens of images from movies and television programs which showcase machines rather than the people using them. What this Tumblr slyly reveals is that A.V. equipment, though long stigmatized as “geeky” or “nerdy,” can be as photogenic in its own way as any movie star. On A.V. Plays Itself, therefore, actors and actresses take a backseat to glowing video monitors, shiny reel-to-reel tape recorders, and looming, phallic video cameras. One may catch a momentary glimpse of, say, Debbie Harry in Videodrome or William Hurt in Broadcast News, but human beings are always subservient to machines at this site. Harry, for instance, is there to hold up a Fidelipac cartridge, while Hurt’s watery-eyed visage appears on a gorgeous analog video monitor. Naturally, certain A.V.-heavy films are showcased repeatedly on A.V. Plays Itself, including Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian De Palma’s Blow Out. The former, of course, is noted for its bold and explicit depiction of an open reel tape deck and mixer.

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