Seriously? Would anyone have understood the conversation between Greedo and Han — back in 1977 — on the big screen — without subtitles, before Han shot Greedo? And yes, Han shot first in a surprising, shocking, memorable moment. Greedo never shot Han — at all. Greedo also didn’t speak English — or any other language spoken on Earth.
Without subtitles, would anyone have understood Jabba the Hutt? “There will be no bargain, young JedI.“ Oddly enough Major Ackbar spoke English. “It’s a trap!“
Did subtitles keep the general public from watching ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’? I doubt Mandarin is widely understood in the U.S. And while more people may speak and understand French and not Mandarin, did it keep people from watching the series ‘The Returned’ on the Sundance channel?
How many people speak Elvish ((LOTR/The Hobbit) or Dothraki (GOT)?
While millions of people had their appetites for Star Wars sated when the latest iteration in the series hit the big screen this past December, many millions were not able.
There were advanced ticket sales.
The movie broke revenue records not only for opening day, but opening weekend.
It had the largest opening distribution of any film in this century — or last: 4134 theaters.
Of all the theaters that booked the movie, only 10 theaters across the U.S. screened an open-captioned (subtitled) version. Of those theaters, all but 2 (due to public demand) had a single showing . That’s one screening, one movie time chance for Star Wars fans that are deaf or hard of hearing to see the movie.
None of the theaters in my home state had an open-captioned screening. Of the theaters that did, those screenings had 200-250 seats available.
There are roughly an estimated 38 million people (13% of the population) in the U.S. who are deaf or hard of hearing. That’s not only a lot of people, but just imagine how much lost revenue that translates to for the movie business — especially given that some of us waited decades for a good sequel.
Do the math yourself.
The days of open-captioned movies are mostly in the past. The theaters are equipped to show them as they did in the past, but don‘t want to do so because they feel they can‘t fill all the seats if they do. They insist the ‘general public‘ find subtitles to be ‘annoying‘ and ‘distracting‘. Therefore, theaters have come up with a couple of gadgets to appease accommodating the deaf and hard of hearing. Neither is ideal. One gadget is comparable to a selfie stick with a screen to view the captions. The other option is a pair of glasses that display the captions while crushing your face and leaving a semi-permanent indentation in your nose when you leave the theater. With either, rather than blending into the audience, the user is made to look like some kind of alien rather than human.
While some — especially those who have no disabilities of any kind — may think these gadgets are the perfect solution to integrating moviegoers in a single screening, there are two major caveats:
A) Not all theaters have these gadgets and when they do, there is an average of perhaps 5 per theater — not screen, theater. Also, while you can reserve movie tickets in advance, you cannot reserve these technological devices in advance (at all theaters). Therefore, they may not have enough devices if you go to the movies with a group of friends and you can’t be guaranteed the use of a single device if you reserved your ticket beforehand and other unknown people show up at the theater.
B) Trying to find just the right seat in the theater for optimal viewing of the captions and film. You can spend half the movie time trying to situate yourself just right for consistent caption viewing. And you have to sit very still. That means no snacks — including drinks unless you can mainline them. Move your head and it will take you a couple of minutes to recalculate your gadget to find the frigging captions.
Open-captions (or subtitles) are the preferred method of movie watching for the deaf/HoH community. These ‘gadgets’ don’t integrate. They separate. It is a form of discrimination. It is a form of bullying. It’s a way to say “I am better/more valuable human being/superior to you because I have no problem hearing.” (Take your pick.)
Does the ‘general public’ find weather and breaking news alerts to be ‘distracting’ or ‘annoying’ when they appear on their TV screens? How about all the text on commercials?
To me, distracting and annoying are all the pop up promotions on TV making you think there’s an important news break (think 9/11) or weather alert for a dangerous approaching storm, when it’s merely a station promoting a program other than the one you’re currently watching instead of using ad time for the promos. Annoying was the time clock in ‘24’ since I can spend an hour just sitting in traffic while Jack Bauer never did. (Ticked me off.) It was exhausting.
I got to see the latest Star Wars movie once. I probably got the last available device that day (matinée to boot). I wanted to see it a few times more since I missed parts due to ‘recalculating’ and intermittent disruption in the captioning transmission. I wanted to wait a couple of days for my face to stop hurting before I subjected myself to the pain. Then I broke my knee and I couln’t make it back to the theater.
Millions of people are not able to enjoy movies until the DVD version becomes available to easily watch captions. Millions cannot enjoy the social aspect of going to the movies like everyone else without special equipment that is less than ideal. Millions miss out on talking with friends about movies that have just opened because we don’t have the same opportunity to see the movies when they first open.
I didn’t get my fill of Star Wars. Millions of others didn’t either because we’re tortured for the experience.
You do the math.
With all the texting that goes on these days (especially instead of talking on phones) does it really make any sense that the ‘general public’ has a problem with reading words on a screen?