As old blokes everywhere my hearing is on the blink. Actually, unlike most old blokes I’m well on my way to completely Mutt and Geoff… 100% deaf in one ear and 50% in the other at best and some days its virtually 100% gone.
I say this not to whinge but because the world is going out of its way to make it worse and wind me into a tight ball of explosive anger.
Take TV. Over the years I have become less and less interested in the telly… but its nice to indulge my penchant for trashy Sci Fi and love of wildlife documentaries…. or it was.
The bright sparks who produce wildlife documentaries, caring, I suspect very little for the natural world, seem to think that there has to be a musical background. Some have tried to turn every show into a cartoon with the sort of inane tunes that are the audio equivalent of primary coloured cartoon characters or the mawkish and sentimental drivel that insists every critter has to have a forename.
One such recent offering had dissonant jazz which would probably not even fit into a smokey 1950s cellar full of hep cats. It had no place at all in a wildlife documentary. Often it is overloud and detracts from the action. When I can hear I much prefer natural sound of waves or wind, birdsong or insect buzzing.
As to just about everything else I attempt to watch the background music is far too loud and the foreground dialogue to quiet. What is more, and it really isn’t just this deaf old git who thinks so, actors seem intent on aping Marlon Brando in Waterfront to the extent that every single syllable has to be mashed and mumbled into extinction.
Idiot directors team up with these silly producers and insist on pointing the camera at the mouth of the person who isn’t talking until they answer, at which point the camera switches to the listener! If I could lip reap I’d be fuming.
But the very worst is the complete lack of sensitivity to those of us who must use subtitles. If they are live you may well be informed that the Warm in Syria has worsened with cities being bummed. Live subtitles are generally one news story behind the pictures anyway so the confusion is doubled. This extends to filmed reports… which as they are not live could easily have been correctly subtitled before broadcast!
Then there are the (largely US) TV shows that insist on scattering their credits throughout the first 12 minutes of a show. During that twelve minutes the most crucial plot setting action happens and we deafers get no subtitles until the first set of commercials.
Amazon and Sky streaming is mostly unwatchable as there are no subtitles at all. Look at the forums and you will see pleading going back five years answer only by ‘we are thinking of introducing subtitles at some time in the future’. I’ve no idea what percentage of the population has hearing difficulty… but the fact that major companies just can’t be arsed to help is surely actionable.