Making deaf children matter

Musings and blogs from a deaf campaigner

Celebrity DJ calls subtitled films at cinema “daft”

Posted by Ian Noon on July 20, 2011

Today gave me a whopping reminder of the power of Twitter in campaigns when “celebrity” DJ, Sara Cox managed to unite the deaf community in anger at some fairly idiotic tweets last night.

It’s a hard life being Sara. She’s goes to the cinema on a date and then, shock horror of horrors, finds the film is showing with SUBTITLES! Frankly, I would tweeted in amazement that she managed to chance upon a film that was accessible to deaf people. Instead, she describes this on Twitter as “daft”. A few people point out that actually the subtitles are there to help deaf people access films. She dismisses them with what I can only describe as a naughty Northern swear word. A huge outcry later, still going the last time I looked on Twitter, said offensive tweets were deleted and an apology issued. Apparently, she thought the subtitles were for foreigners. Daft, indeed (here’s a screengrab of her nonsense – courtesy of @Deaf on Twitter) and the story has been picked up in a couple of news outlets including the Telegraph.

Is this enough? She’s said she’s mortified at the offence caused, should we tweeters get some perspective and all move onto something else? Maybe. But I’m still pretty annoyed and disappointed by the whole thing.

Subtitled films are few and far inbetween. Deaf people can’t just turn up to watch a subtitled film. We have to plan our social lives around the few showings around and then sit with our fingers crossed through some rubbish adverts in the hope that the man in the projector box doesn’t screw up the subtitles. Deaf journalist, Charlie Swinbourne, hit the nail on the head in his article for the Guardian a while back. Deaf children and grown ups need more access, not less.

As has been powerfully pointed out by fellow deaf tweeters, thanks to an ill-informed tweet, a celebrity, with lots of followers who seem rather keen and willing to defend her views, has now helped make it legitimate and OK to complain about access for deaf people and made it harder for deaf campaigners to persuade cinema to show more subtitled films. A lot of valuable work, potentially undone. Very frustrating indeed.

I’m sure Sara is genuine in her apology. But the damage has been done and there are no naughty Northern swear words that can take it back.

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5 Responses to “Celebrity DJ calls subtitled films at cinema “daft””

  1. Stephen said

    Some celebrities are so desperate for media inches that they’ll say anything to get coverage and morality and commonsense goes out of the window, and too many of their ‘followers’ will slavishly lap it up. Ditto, comedians.

  2. Liz said

    Even though she did not appreciate subtitles and others like her that don’t appreciate them and find them annoying. I ask them all this. What would happen when you are deaf? You never know what happens in the future. My deafness is unknown to why I am deaf, and I rely on subtitles. What will the hearies who do not appreciate subs do?

    Will you just sit at home and watch dvds like I do for subtitles? Or will you want to watch a film just come out at cinemas first, before it hits the shelves on dvd?

  3. deafmuse said

    I wait for the DVD every time, I don’t feel deprived at all of access, it’s not vital I have to see everything as soon as it comes out…., and because no local deaf here have campaigned for it, and not even turned up for special screenings. I think titled cinema is very much postcode driven. E.G London/Birmingham/Glasgow/Cardiff perhaps would do more titled cinema whereas other areas wouldn’t consider it viable for 3 people max. It was an mistake to title an film where only hearing turn up and don’t have an choice to turn it off, pointless access if no deaf are there. Hearing are the majority the cinemas won’t sideline them given the apathy the deaf show, why would they ? I find the real issue never addressed, why ARE hearing people continually unaware of deaf issues ? WE are doing something wrong by not engaging mainstream on an level they can go with. We only have two approaches to awareness, one is to hard sell BSL and culture, the other to sell the misery deafness brings, neither are simpatico, to my mind not hitting the awareness spot at all….. If there is one thing I have had to accept is the rule if you don’t use it, you will lose it, nobody is going to pay for access hardly used, not even as a right… It’s not as if deaf are deprived of access, just we wait a bit longer for the DVD. 6-8 weeks at most. As for twitter I’d rather wait for serious responses…. all deaf twits have done is raised the profile of this celeb more… which still shows deaf haven’t got the hang of how medias work yet… They’ve been used, there is no such thing as bad publicity…

  4. […] Ian Noon has written a really good blog post about it and recaps the main issues and concerns raised… […]

  5. les said

    Can anyone steer me towards a pressure group for the subtitling of video games? I play Bungie’s Halo and spend lots of time wandering off in the wrong direction because I can’t hear what’s going on. It can be lonely out there. And frightening -there’s lots of scary monsters in games like this

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