DVD Menus (Originally published 8/8/07)

I’ve noticed this for a while now, meant to write something about it, and have just never gotten around to it yet.  Why is it that the English subtitles are the only ones that have a disclaimer or other parenthetical comment?  Every DVD we watch at home has either an asterisk or some explanatory sentence next to the English subtitle option, usually looking something like this:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • English*

* (For the deaf and hard of hearing)

WTF?  Am I not allowed to use the English subtitles because I’m NOT deaf or hard of hearing?  Or is this explanation necessary because the American public is just so mind-bogglingly stupid that the English option needs to be explained to them so they don’t call up the manufacturer and ask them why their English-speaking DVD has English subtitles as an option?  Did the movie studios get so many questions from the knuckle-dragging public that they felt the need to put the explanation out there in full view just to shut them up?  If I’m not deaf or hard of hearing, can I call them up and pester them to put some more options on for me?  How about a DVD menu like this?

  • Spanish
  • French
  • English*
  • English**
  • English***

* (For the deaf and hard of hearing)
** (For parents with sleeping kids)
*** (For those who just want to know what the hell the mumbly characters are saying)

You’d be surprised what insights you can get from turning the subtitles on.  Sometimes they tell you what snarky comment a character has just made under their breath.  I sometimes turn on the closed captioning for regular TV shows as well, particularly if any of the characters talks extremely fast, or is otherwise hard to understand.  I literally laughed out loud watching Battlestar last season when the hybrid (The naked woman with the white shower cap who sits in the Cylon tub and babbles incoherently) said at one point "I don’t care if it rains or freezes".  That’s friggin’ hilarious, and if you didn’t have the captions turned on, you missed it.  If you don’t get the reference, go look up "Plastic Jesus" and come back.

Anyway, I’m not so much insulted by the moronic political correctness of the whole thing, but by the compulsive need of American society to dumb-down everything from coffee cups (Of course it’s hot you IDIOT) to our DVD menus.  I swear the movie Idiocracy is coming true right before our eyes.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.  It’s decidedly lowbrow humor, but there’s a point to be made there as well.  We are devolving into super-idiots at an alarming rate because of our own compulsive need to make everything idiot-proof.  So this movie is meant to appeal to the very people it’s lampooning.  But that’s the inside joke you see.  It’s like the way the South Park movie predicted its own fate, and just like clockwork, parents were up in arms over the effect that movie had on their kids when it was very clearly rated "R"… never for one second realizing that THEY were the ones the movie was talking about.  Personally, I think every potential parent should be forced to watch the South Park movie, and if they don’t "get it" then they should be forcibly sterilized and never allowed to raise children.

But please, just for once, could Hollywood stop assuming I’m an idiot and just let ME decide why I might want to turn the English subtitles on?  Just give me that much credit, okay?

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