I intend to hover over this intriguing subject only as long as necessary.
I’ll try to be brief.
If you’ve not clicked on the subtitle option on your television, you may miss the background goings-on as you sprawl across the couch and munch your carrot sticks or extra-buttery theater popcorn— not judging.
Closed captioning officially debuted on the tv show, The French Chef (PBS, 1971), but I recall the ZONK, BOOM, and ZIP from The Batman Show well before the chef. The French Chef’s chatter was displayed in digitally coded text (line 21) on the screen.
And you may ask, why does this matter? To answer, it’s bonus entertainment- hearing impaired or not. It’s those additional peripheral actions inserted into the suspense/drama, crime, or comedy show playing out on the screen.
For example, did you notice the [horse neighing distantly] or [plastic wrap squeaking] while watching your last tv show? Sometimes the sound is insignificant to the story until the caption pops up [flies buzzing]. Wait, was that an integral part of the scene?
Why not apply the same principle since you can’t hear my background sounds as I write from my quasi-desk/dining table?
Interesting concept. This is how this writing session plays out if subtitled:
[keyboard clicks paused, keyboard clicks resumed]
Continuing with my theme: Despite the proper attempts, subtitle mishaps in grammar and spelling provide hilarious results. For example, sniffing fragrant aroma may inadvertently become sniffing flagrant ammonia. The background sounds typed out are incredibly amusing. Artificial Intelligence is hard at work to provide the hearing-impaired a full experience.
[Timer beeping] [chair scoots]
[keyboard clicking paused, keyboard taps resumed]
Let’s say while watching a movie from the comforts of home. Perhaps a kitchen scene where the family has gathered. Mom is at the stove while others appear upset as they discuss the elderly neighbor’s horrific murder. Suddenly the subtitle [bacon sizzling] pops across the tv screen.
Would you have missed the sizzling bacon? You might have heard it subconsciously, but because the phrase was blazoned across the screen, sizzling bacon is now the elephant in the kitchen rather than the homicide discussion.
[keyboard paused] [hot coffee slurps]
[candy wrapper crinkling] [keyboard resumes]
I’m just saying, it’s worth a whirl at the subtitles option. It may give you a new perspective of everything you’ve missed, some you wished you had missed— plus a giggle or three.
By Diana Warren
[Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence playing in the background]