Whenever I watch something on TV, be it the news, a television show, or a movie, I watch it with captions. I have a hearing loss. While at times I can hear the words being spoken without needing the captions, many times I need them to understand what is going on, especially if I watch without my hearing aids on.
I was nineteen before I started using captions. Once I realized how much I had been missing, I never wanted to go back. But there is a problem with media in general:
Not everything is captioned.
News stations sometimes can’t acquire a live captionist, other times they flat out don’t care. Some movie channels don’t give a damn whether people like me can enjoy their programming. Things have improved over the years, in a sort of one step forward two steps back approach.
And then there’s the selective captioning.
Case in point: I watched Pitch Perfect 2 last week. Saw the first movie, loved it. Started the second movie only, wait, the Bellas are singing, where’s the captioning? My husband and I stopped the movie, put in the first movie. The first time around they captioned all the songs and it was extremely enjoyable. This time around, they only captioned the original works.
Not gonna lie, I was bored. I was frustrated. I was hurt. I loved the first movie so much and was so looking forward to enjoying the sequel. Only I had to ask my husband what song was being sung. Add in accents and the cross sounds the original movie loved to do, and I plain couldn’t follow the songs.
Add in Amy’s song to Bumper, the lyrics there were important. They were plot dependent. I managed to figure out which song it was halfway through, but the movie should have given me the curtesy of the lyrics.
They aren’t alone. Many movies refuse to caption the music. Why? Am I not supposed to enjoy music simply because I can’t hear? Am I too dumb to understand the importance of song in film? Am I the ugly stepchild not worthy of having a full movie captioned for me?
Because if those lyrics were in ASL I bet they’d be captioned. So the hearing people can understand my language, but I can’t understand your songs.
That’s not right. That’s not fair.
I’m just a writer with a blog. Just one voice among many. But I’m tired of this inequalness that continues to prevail. It’s bad enough I can’t read an article from my local news station because they’ve been replaced with captionless videos. It’s bad enough more than half of the videos my friends post on social media are not captioned. It’s bad enough there are television channels that continue to refuse captions, and movies in my house that somehow sneaked by requirements and only my husband can enjoy. But don’t take a movie and claim it’s captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, when you really mean “Selectively Captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.”
Most importantly: it’s not up to the powers that be whether or not I will enjoy the movie, or others like me will enjoy. Caption everything. The decisions is ours, not yours.