15 March 2014

Platform agnosticism


A new piece of nomenclature that—like "backstory," perhaps—will rise from obscurity to common use in two weeks flat: "platform agnostic."

I first saw the term in David Denby's January 8th article on the future of Hollywood films. He uses it to refer to the viewing habits of kids, who will "look at movies on any screen at all, large or small."

(Photo: Thomas Huxley [1825-95], a great defender of Darwin, who coined the term 'agnostic' to describe his belief that it cannot be known whether or not god exists. The word comes from the Greek—'a' [not] 'gnosis' [knowledge].)

Denby, like most cinephiles (and old people), is not a platform agnostic. He doesn't like how the iPod rides up and down on his stomach when he's watching a movie. And holding it away from his body makes his arm tired. And his eyes hurt to focus. Besides, he's got better options.

"At the house of my friend Harry Pearson, I watched movies on what must be close to the ultimate home-theatre system, a setup priced at two hundred thousand dollars."
So, Mr. Denby, when I start my internship, I'm going to be polite at first. I'll swing by your office and be, like, yeah, no frigging way can we dispense with the Western canon. Nothing about Anthony Lane being funnier. But then...I'm going to get a little more insistent.

Let me put it out there right now: I'll watch whatever you guys are watching. I'll be really quiet. And I will bring the Stroh's.

Talk of platform agnosticism at journalism school is appropriate: the newspaper god is ailing, and journalists have begun to hedge their bets. We take something called Multiplatform Journalism (the 'multi' means print, audio, video, and online), which will help me a tonne when I give up on slackjawed Joe Public and go into advertising.

Dorky Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who carries a stuffed toy moose around, also describes himself as a platform agnostic.

Still working on the link between the two.


Originally published on Jan 22, 2007

4 comments:

zp said...

Sometimes, when I'm reading a Denby review, I too drift off into fantasy, in mine I confront him, possibly at a large, Manhattan multi-plex, after a screening of a girls teen movie . . . Nice to find your blog, and thanks for the link.

JJB said...

Thanks for stopping by. My confrontation fantasies are usually about Alex Ross, when he's describing the 'taut luminescence' of a Finnish fugue nine people in the world have heard of.

zp said...

Funny, that. I love Alex Ross. I think because he writes about things I know nothing about. ie, that Finnish fugue you mentioned.

JJB said...

Yeah, it's his pride that annoys me. And I have the feeling his editors take the real condescension out. Hey, check out Frere-Jones' critique of Ross back in 2003, when he was at Slate and Ross was doing double duty at TNY. (http://www.slate.com/id/2087321/)