What is it with the subtitle haters?

In the thread about Hannibal, someone is angry because they “shouldn’t need subtitles to follow a crime drama.”

I don’t get it. Subtitles are good. You don’t have to read them, they are magic that lets you understand what the character is saying. If you speak the language the show is in, subtitles make everyone speak more clearly. And you don’t have to miss any jokes.

What’s not to like? Why this…anger? It’s as if people feel violated because other people speak in dialect or have accents - or, god forbid, a foreign language.

I don’t get it.

i do not know about anger, but i dislike how subtitles draw the eyes away from the action.

Subtitles have to be learned and can be jarring to people who haven’t learned them yet.

When you’ve watched enough films with subtitles, you don’t really read them- or at least I don’t, maybe I shouldn’t generalize. I drop my gaze slightly and my brain just kinda processes the words- aided by the context and performance. I don’t claim a 100% success rate in interpretation, but it’s usually good enough to follow what’s being communicated. Sometimes, with complicated conversations or important details I have to devote to a bit of conscious reading but I generally read through fast enough to return my attention to the action on the screen.

When I was new to subtitles, the process wasn’t so smooth but I was open to it because I was interested in broadening my connections to newer works. Being open and interested makes the learning process easier. Some people, finding it jarring when it is new to them, get frustrated at trying to divide their attention between the action on the screen and the words at the bottom of the screen. Once this frustration leads to being “angry at subtitles” they end up closing themselves off from ever improving at the process.

Then there are those who decide that anyone who likes foreign films is pretentious for taking such a galling interest in the perspectives of people who are different from them. The reasoning follows that if people who like foreign films are pretentious then the films themselves must also be pretentious. Then it follows: foreign films are pretentious => foreign films have subtitles => subtitles are pretentious.

I was watching Defiance the other day, and fully half the episode was aliens speaking their native language. It’s a completely made-up language, so even if I conveniently spoke Chechnyan or French or Japanese it wouldn’t help, my only choice is to watch carefully and pay attention to the lines of dialogue at the bottom of the screen. But I don’t always watch TV that way, sometimes I have it on in the background while I do other things, and Defiance is that kind of show for me, or would be if it wasn’t 30% subtitled. Kind of annoying.

I also have three foreign DVDs on my coffee table waiting for me to watch, but I know I have to dedicate time and concentration to enjoy them to read the subtitles, and so far I haven’t found the two hours for each to really do that. I don’t hold it against the films, it’s fair enough that they use their native language in their own films, but it nonetheless is an inconvenience for me.

I don’t dislike subtitles on movies, but they are a factor I take into consideration when viewing something.

This. Sometimes you subconsciously read them when they are on the screen: that’s what brains do. Then, if you would have understood the text anyway, important revelations and sometimes just regular convesations are “spoiled” for you a second or so ahead of time so you don’t get the same “in the moment” feel which takes away from the suspension of disbelief. It’s less like you’re watching real action and more like you’re watching a play.

Then again, for subtitles for speech that I don’t understand, I’m all for it.

I have hearing problems, so I only watch TV when there’s subtitles. A number of my friends are afraid that if they have subtitles on their TV, others will think that they are getting old. In their case, it’s a vanity thing. Ergo, I don’t watch TV when I’m there.

As a kid I got an early appreciation of Brit-Coms (Python, Fawlty Towers, Young Ones etc.) so I often watch (semi-)current ones on BBC America. But a few of them have so many characters with such thick (various) accents that I wind up turning on CC to augment my understanding of what the hell they’re saying! Even then I’ll occasionally encounter a colloquialism that even after reading it it still doesn’t make any sense (I usually ask here then!) :smiley:

The true Kirk vs Picard, CD vs Vinyl argument regarding them was Subtitles vs Dubbing. I’m glad that in my lifetime I’ve seen film studios come around to realize that regardless of some people still complaining about them, subtitles are always preferable to dubbing (“DO NOT WANT” not withstanding!) Except for goofball kid’s stuff like Godzilla movies, dubbing is an abomination. Although I’m also glad that the once considered cheesy compromise of having English actors simply speak in a foreign accent has gained acceptability & respect (Shindler’s List for example). When done with talented actors who respect the commitment to learning an accurate accent it’s the best of both worlds.

Man nav prātā subtitriem, bet tas būtu labāk, ja tie nav vajadzīgi.

[Latvian. Translation: I do not mind subtitles, but it would be better if they are not needed.]

Subtitles are the best way to translate languages; they allow you to hear the original actor’s inflection and appreciation the performance.

They are a problem with people with vision issues or who read slowly, but for most, you can get much more out of the film by hearing the original dialog.

I watch everything with subtitles.

Subtitles are so ubiquitous here that most scripted Hebrew-language shows on TV have Hebrew subtitles. Even kids’ cartoons dubbed in Hebrew have them. I guess that’s why most people here are so used to them that they read them automatically, without noticing.

I don’t mind an occasional subtitle, as with brief dialogue within the whole story. But I can’t watch an entire movie in sub-titles, too distracting, too easy to look away and miss something. Even though dubbing is often poorly done, I prefer the dubbed versions of most movies.

i thought we were talking about same language subtitles. when it comes to foreign language movies, sub is definitely better than dub. what’s the point otherwise?

It’s really funny how, when I think back about a movie I watched with subtitles, I usually don’t remember the subtitles. I’ll have to think twice about it.

And for some movies, The Diving and the Butterfly is a GREAT example, I think the subtitles can actually enhance the movie.

Subtitles are essential when you are eating something crunchy.

My assumption, when someone complains about subtitles, is that person is a slow reader or has poor reading skills* and cannot keep up with the subtitles, misses key plot points, and gets frustrated. If you do not read very fast, I can see why you might strongly dislike subtitles.

*Note, this is not meant as a comment on people’s intelligence. I would imagine that subtitles could be a problem with reading or word/text-processing learning disabilities.

Don’t have a problem with subtitles in foreign films.

but watching subtitles with an English movie is cheating. just pay attention

What is this supposed to mean or prove? I assumed the OP was speaking about subtitles in a language you can read, most likely english based on the demos of the board.

Subtitles are distracting. But what else are you going to do? I was watching an Antonioni film last week and it’s not like I was going to learn Italian so I could follow it in the original. Subtitles are better than dubbing.

I don’t mind subtitles at all and I like closed captioning (when I can figure out how to turn it on) because I do have a little hearing loss. The hubby will tolerate them a short while but wouldn’t really enjoy watching a feature length film with subtitles.

I just wish the fine folks who actually produce the words on the screen would give them a little background or something. Lots of shows I want to watch on PBS and some on the Travel Channel use white letters on light backgrounds and I can’t SEE the words. Super frustrating.

I have some hearing loss as well so the captions come in useful when there’s background noise, crunchy snacks in my hands, or strong accents, or a lot of quiet, low-talking scenes. I also like them for watching sports. In general, I hate sports commentary, but might enjoy watching the sport itself. So I’ll kill the volume, play the radio instead, and turn on the captions. I don’t miss anything that way and I don’t have to listen to the talking heads say stupid shit.