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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

watch it: “Athena Encounters the Technology of the Ancients”

Not sure how many of you also read John Scalzi’s Whatever, but if you don’t, you’ll have missed this hilarious video of Scalzi’s 13-year-old daughter encountering her first LP: that is, a long-playing vinyl record.

For those of you closer in age to Athena than to me or John, LPs are what we had before CDs and MP3s.

When I was a kid, in the 1970s, my mom had some old 78s. They seemed weird and quaint to me, because they were so much thicker than vinyl LPs, and so much heavier. But they did not seem alien in the way that Athena’s reaction to the LP suggests the LP is to her:

Athena vs the LP

The 78 was far more removed in time from the LP than the CD is from the LP, and yet we had a record player that dated from only the late 60s that could play 78s. All it needed to do was speed up the turntable: the basic technology was the same. But Athena was born on the other side of a digital divide. Her children probably will have the same reaction to CDs. Actually, a child born today will probably have the same reaction to CDs 13 years from now.

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