by Marshall Chapman

How closed captioning saved the day . . .

Whenever my husband and I watch a movie or program on TV, I have this annoying habit of shattering the mood when I can’t understand what’s being said. “What’d she just say?” I’ll blurt out. “Roll it back! This could be important!”     

I can’t help it. I’m a writer. I love words. I want to hear the dialogue. Chris figures we can understand what’s happening, even if we can’t understand what’s being said, if we just keep watching the action.    

I have some theories about my DCD (Dialogue Comprehension Disorder). For years, I played rock & roll at a high volume, which may have affected my hearing. But no, that’s not it. Because whenever I watch an old movie like Casablanca or reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, I understand every word that’s spoken. Which has me thinking technology might be the culprit. Have you ever noticed, when watching sports on TV, how you can’t understand what the announcers are saying because whoever is mixing the sound has the crowd noise too loud? Not to mention all the sound effects they add. Bells and whistles and whatnot. I don’t want to hear that crap. I want to hear the announcers!     

Okay, so one recent Wednesday night, Chris and I were watching a new episode of Nashville when, as usual, my DCD flared up. If it wasn’t Scarlett (played by Australian Clare Bowen) trying to talk Southern, then it was the music, which is terrific but which often drowns out the dialogue. So Chris and I are sitting there, and I’m going crazy. “What’d she just say?” I blurt out. “Dammit! This is important! Roll it back!” As Chris patiently hit the rewind button, I was struck by an idea. “Hey, do you think Nashville has closed captions, like with movies?” Chris soon found a setting on the screen with a menu of options that included “Setup.” “Oh, click that,” I said. Then, “Oh my God, I can’t believe Nashville has closed captions . . . just like movies!”

For the next hour, as Chris and I watched Nashville (with closed captions), world peace seemed attainable.   

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