Do you like foreign films? If yes, do you like subtitles or dubbing?
I’m a subtitles gal. I don’t mind reading. I like hearing other languages. For me, it helps the texture of the film to hear the characters speaking their own language in their own setting. I like when lips and words synch up.
I was surprised, when visiting Italy, to be told that most American films are dubbed. Everyone seemed to prefer this. Maybe English isn’t as pretty to listen to. Maybe it’s audience laziness. I know North Americans who cringe at the thought of subtitles, certainly.
For the nonbirders among you, I’m about to let you in on one of my dubbing pet peeves. On TV, whenever any bird of prey flies across the screen, no matter the species, the scream you hear will be a red-tailed hawk. That eagle at the intro to the Colbert Report? Red-tailed hawk. Tropical birds of a certain look soaring on Survivor? Red-tailed hawk. Any time anyone wants to spook you a little in daylight hours? Red-tailed hawk. (For night spookiness, see great-horned owl. The good news? Too dark for you to see the wrong bird.)
Okay. I haven’t spent much time in the tropics. Maybe all those birds really do sound like red-tailed hawks. They sure sound suspiciously like each other. And sometimes—maybe 0.05% of the time—footage will actually reflect the proper non–red-tailed call of the bird. When that happens, Tim and I have to physically lift our jaws off the floor.
Seriously, listen to the call of the bald eagle. If you’re going to dub it, at least use a seagull. Or use a real eagle call, with a subtitle that reads [scream of a red-tailed hawk]. I’d start laughing with you.