After this blog post it shouldn’t be a surprise that I was quite annoyed at the United Artists AFI edition of the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof”.  I was watching it for the third time a couple weeks ago and, as is our habit, I turned on subtitles.  Neither Danielle and I are deaf, but we often turn on subtitles to make sure we can understand everyone in the movie.  Sometimes they have accents that are hard to decipher and sometimes they’re blocked out by ambient noise in the movie or in the real world.

I was greatly annoyed at the decision to not provide subtitles for any of the songs in the movie.  In a regular movie, I don’t expect subtitles to provide the words to music unless they’re important to understand the scene.  But in a musical, the songs are part of the dialog!  Without the songs, you miss a key part of what’s going on!  Instead, the people who created this DVD just write (Tevye sings “If I Were A Rich Man”)  WTF?!?  So is the deaf person supposed to go look up the words somewhere?  I don’t understand what’s going on here.  Why aren’t the words there?

As I said in my previous blog post, it’s easy to forget how hard it is to have a disability.  But when you’re working on the subtitles you have to realize that they’re there mostly for deaf people, not for people like me that just like to have them on.  I think that’s a pretty messed up decision to keep them from being able to enjoy the movie.  I’m not sure what recourse deaf people have – can they sue under some kind of disabilities act statute?  I just want the people in Hollywood to realize they’re causing problems for people who want to enjoy their creations.

3 responses to “Subtitle”

  1. It’s kind of insensitive, but why would a deaf person watch a musical? They’re kind of missing out on the whole point.

    That said, there’s a lyrical/poetic quality to music that is worth reading and this is some serious laziness. Did you check to see if there were options for English SDH and normal English? Some DVD/Blu-Rays have those parsed out separately specifically to reduce subtitle clutter.