Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Subtitles at the Cinema.


I’m here today with a question for you.

If you watch a film at the cinema and only discover on its commencement that it is subtitled, do you stay to watch it or complain and leave? And I’d best add that these will be English subtitles on an blockbuster film, for example, The Greatest Showman on Earth.

Image result for closed captioning logo

I ask because a lot of Hearing people complain, saying that subtitles are a distraction and shouldn’t be provided and I fail to understand their narrow-minded reasoning.

It riled me a few months ago when I heard about an issue with a subtitled version of Star Wars:The Last Jedi and Hearing members of the audience became vocal when a few Deaf audience members commented on a technical fault that the subtitles seemed to be having. The Hearing complaining about the Deaf exercising their rights under the Equality Act. Hmm…

Whenever I complain about subtitles to cinema staff and believe me, I have done, it is always because they are not working and I’m sick to death of Sarah and I being fobbed off by the “technical faults” every single time. Being given complementary free tickets isn’t good enough because those “faults” will just happen again and the excuses will be the same.

In terms of Hearing people complaining, what gets me is the double standards. If a cinema decides to show a foreign film (not dubbed) but has English subtitles, and people go to watch it, they’d get furious if the subtitles weren’t working because then they will/might not be able to understand the film. What then gives people the right to moan, complain, and get in a huff about cinemas providing subtitles for anyone d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing and them going to see a staff member when there is a fault?

How is it different?

From where I stand there is no difference because the principle is exactly the same. People need subtitles and someone asks to get them working. They’re being helpful, not a hindrance to someone’s enjoyment and relaxation.

If someone doesn’t like the accessibility and necessity of subtitles, and if they personally don’t need them, then there’s nothing to stop them from leaving and easily walking into another film. What’s unacceptable and deplorable is then badmouthing to the audience and cinema about their own ignorance. I remember hearing about the radio presenter Sara Cox watching a subtitled screening and afterwards, publicly vocalising her annoyance about the film having subtitles. What issue did she have with them? That they were actually working for once, that they were allowing more people to enjoy the film….? She might have eventually retracted her statement and realised her ignorance but the comment was already made and people heard her. It sparked two avenues of conversation – those who were furious at what she said (myself being one of them), and those who jumped on her bandwagon and continued to mock and poke fun. How does that increase awareness and break down the barriers we’ve all been working hard to demolish? It doesn’t and it’s infuriating.

We are in the age of the Equality Act, where it shouldn’t be necessary to think twice about granting people the accessibility and accommodations they need. At the cinema that means working subtitles on every film. It also means showing them at all hours of the day, and not just when it suits the cinema. I personally think if someone Hearing complains about the addition of subtitles to a staff member, they should be thrown out of the film, or directed to another screen so as to not disturb it for the people who want and need to stay.

Recently, The Limping Chicken blog started a petition to get multiplex cinemas to dedicate one screen to subtitled screenings. I’m fully on board with this. It’s about time cinemas stop pussyfooting around the issue, acknowledge that their “technical issues” are just an excuse, and deal with it before the outcry worsens. From the little I hear, there never seems to be any technical issues with the audio description for blind cinema goers so why are subtitles for anyone d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing so hard to get right? Okay, the audio description is delivered through headphones straight to the person so no one able-bodied will likely complain, but if an accessibility can be made and to a high level of expectation and standard, then it is not beyond me or anyone else to suggest the same be done for subtitles.

The thing is, subtitles also provide accessibility for people who’s first language isn’t English. Again that means going to the cinema is opened up for a much wider audience.

The more subtitled screenings there are, the less ignorant, obnoxious and facetious people are going to be.

Besides, none of us ever know if we’ll become d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing in later life so there’s no point in complaining about an accessibility that will be necessary for us.

Although my discussion and rant is now over, it’s still ridiculous we still have to fight over the right to have fully-working subtitles on every film.

What’s your opinion on this? 

What would you do if you were watching a film with subtitles? 

If you were with someone who was complaining about the subtitles, what would you say to them? 

Thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!










10 thoughts on “Subtitles at the Cinema.”

  1. I honestly don’t understand why some people find subtitles so annoying (unless they are not accurate or out of time with the picture – that is annoying). It’s like they cannot comprehend that they benefit so many people, while not really hurting those who don’t need them. Even though my hearing is fine, I still prefer to watch things with subtitles whenever possible as I’m much less likely to miss things, I wish more cinema’s had regular subtitled showings and think it would be great if more films just automatically had subtitles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always prefer to watch shows and films on with the subtitles too, even though I personally don’t need them either. I got so used to putting them on whenever my sister watched tv that it became a habit for me and I automatically do it without thinking. It has got to the stage where watching tv or a film seems strange if I don’t or can’t use subtitles.

      Like you said, it baffles me that in this day and age, they are seen as alien and unwanted. I just hope that we can get somewhere with this petition and make sure the cinema chains acknowledge the changes we’re trying to make.


  2. This is such an interesting post! I had never thought about it that way, but I agree that subtitles should always be available. It has never been an issue for me nor have I ever heard anyone complain about it. That is mostly because there are (almost) always subtitles where I live in Belgium. They are always in both French and Dutch (official languages). The reason is that most movies in the cinema are in English so the subtitles serve as translation. When the movies are in Dutch they are often in a dialect and in those situations the subtitles make it understandable for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I’ve heard that to be the case for countries where there is more than one official language. It seems right, natural and perfectly logical. It’s also probably why you don’t hear problems about accessibility because it’s already there and working without any problems. I just wish we in the UK could take a leaf out of your book and copy the working technology so that we didn’t have these constant issues. It would also kill the ignorance that many people have about the importance of subtitles.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never seen a movie in theaters with subtiles before but I don’t think it would ruin my enjoyment of a film especially if it was aiding someone being able to enjoying the film. Ive watch some shows/movies with subtitles in my personal life and it doesn’t take away from my experience. Honestly I didn’t know they did this in theaters( I don’t go the theaters alot) I can’t see why this irritates people. I think people like to complain just because they can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I’ve seen a few people say, it must simply be a UK issue and people still having many of the old misconceptions regarding deafness. To be honest, I don’t really go to the cinema that often anymore, one because of the lack of accessible subtitles and two, it’s a pain to get to a cinema due to lack of accessible transport from my village.

      I think you might be right there though. When it doesn’t suit someone (able-bodied) they will complain and turn it on themselves. It just annoys me because it shouldn’t be this way.


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