Saturday, August 30, 2008

I need to stop watching movies with subtitles

Yes, fresh off my "problems with minorities" post, we get the "speak (American) English, you bastards" post!

Now, my quarrel with subtitled films is purely artistic. Poor subtitling - I'm looking at you, Juliet of the Spirits - can seriously mute a film's impact. More importantly: I CAN'T SKETCH WHEN I HAVE TO READ A FILM!

Movie people: We are in the Instant Gratification Age!* I am a dude with three weeks of Big Brother saved up on his DVR because I find it appalling to have to deal with the distraction of having to fast forward through commercials I refuse to sit through. (The brain-deadening recaps that take up much of those shows fail to help the situation.) To expect me to pay full attention to a two-hour movie is just cruel. I can't microwave my dinner without losing patience! (I'm not kidding. I've been living off leftovers for days and the two minutes it takes to get sub-standard food - thank's mom! - is excruciating.)

(*term capitalized out of cynical optimism that history will remember us this way.)

If you've noticed something from my examples, it's that I cannot stand inferior quality when I have to wait. Big Brother is inferior in every way, while my mother's baked spaghetti is just as lackluster as my own. If am going to invest my PRECIOUS TIME - I could be taking up a new destructive habit like cutting myself! - the quality better be great!

Without subtitles, I can "watch" a film while sketching. I sketch while people are talking and look up when they stop to see why. Knowing I have to stare at the screen and read, I feel helpless. I find myself trying to get some doodling in during musical numbers or extended pauses, often resulting in me having to rewind and read what I missed. Stupid language! BE MORE ENGLISH!

The joke here is that the movie that set me off was all about language barriers: Babel. Here's another surprise: It was actually good! While other movies of its type (Traffic, Crash) failed because they hit with the subtlety of a giant anime mallet, Babel overcame its issue by... well, mostly telling a story and ignoring the point. It had its pretentious bloat, but far exceeded expectations so it pleased me.

What's also notable is that I *was* able to get some sketching in during the film. Yes, this was mostly during the English scenes - but I was pleased to be able to understand some of the Spanish and Japanese too! Not full comprehension, of course - I should note I failed Spanish - but considering lots of the Spanish was simplified because it was addressed to English-speaking children, I was alright!

Following this was 2046, which was a true mind trip when it came to language. At first, I was totally lost. All the 2046 parts were done in what sounded a lot like Japanese...but something was off about it. Wasn't this a Hong Kong film? About two-thirds of the way through I got my answer: 2046, a fictional story in the story, was written to feature Japanese characters. I *was* hearing Japanese, but with the Hong Kong accent! This was a neat discovery for me, while any native would immediately know what was up, as only the Japanese was originally subtitled. (The scene with a Hong Kong girl learning basic Japanese for her boyfriend was awesome, since she moved slow enough that even I could understand it!) Sprinkle in 2046's tendency to use songs from at least three other languages, and my world was a subtitled mess today!

I should have followed this up with The Science of Sleep, a Michel Gondry film that is about a Spanish dude and French Chick (whose song immediately came on my random iTunes playlist when I mentioned her) compromising by speaking English between their native tongues and weak attempts to crossover to the other's language.

Don't you love how the premise of this post keeps changing? Subtitles ruin my sketching! I am too impatient to do anything inconvenient. Subtitles can open the door to interesting language experiences! Subtitles can add a new level of depth to a story if used correctly! I like all the subtitled films I'm suppose to be railing against, while dumping my contempt on decidedly American atrocities.

Speaking of American atrocities: I'm tired and my wireless keyboard keeps dropping letters. I apologize for the massive typos and mangled sentences that likely appear. Maybe I'll do some editing tomorrow.


I had commentary, but I've rambled enough as is... and typing this sentence is taking so long it is a perfect example of taxing my attention span for something NOT WORTH THE EFFORT!

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