Oh what a fuss they made when some of the big opera companies installed this machinery. It lets you know in English what’s going on.
Dialogue; words to the arias. It’s all right there for the Great Unwashed to see. The code is broken. No longer do you have to be a scholar to know the story or the words.
“There goes the neighborhood” sniffed the Opera Cossacks.
Televised opera soon followed suit. Subtitles. The same Cossacks were even more outraged!
“Caruso would be apoplectic” they sniffed. (Actually, Caruso would probably would say “passi prego lo scozzese,” which means “please pass the scotch.”)
They have the right idea. But they haven’t taken it far enough.
Let’s expand it. Start with rap. Anybody know what these guys are saying? Put up subtitles in English and you can find out.
“Emsa so great can’ gettaday t buttum notgunna hesitate. gonnamate.” Thus becomes “I’m so great, though I can’t get a date but I won’t hesitate. I’m going to mate (anyway.”)
Loses nothing in the translation, except the cowardly hiding behind the mumbles.
You can do heavy metal the same way.
Thus “eeeeyu waaa baaaaa SCREEEEEEEEM” becomes “my life sucks and it’s your fault.”
But why limit this to music. Or to what passes for music these days?
Medical appointments, political statements, laws and the like also deserve subtitles.
DR. SKIN to patient: That is a suspected malignant melanoma. Let’s take a piece and do a biopsy.
SUBTITLE: That is a malignant melanoma. We need a biopsy to confirm, but I’d bet if you leave it alone for six months you’ll be dead.
DR. OBGYN to patient: This will feel a little cool and you may feel some pressure.
SUBTITLE: I’m going to freeze your private parts off and it’s going to feel like there’s an elephant in there.
HOLISTIC “DOCTOR” to patient: The medical establishment is trying to keep it quiet, but our double-blind scientific tests show this stuff will definitely cure your cancer, heart condition and muscle pain. Just take six tablets three times a day.
SUBTITLE: we don’t know what this junk does, but it’s our major profit center and we’d not only like you to try it, but we’d like you to become a “distributor” and you’ll rake a little off the top of every bottle sold by anyone you recruit.
DENTIST to patient: We’re almost done.
SUBTITLE: maybe another hour or two and we’ll be at the point where we can think about getting you out of the chair.
AUTO TECHNICIAN to customer: You’re next.
SUBTITLE: your car is a mess. Come back next week, we’ll probably be finished by then.
GASOLINE PRICE SIGN: Unleaded Regular 2.48 (9.)
JUDGE JUDY to courtroom: Ruling in favor of the Plaintiff for $250.
SUBTITLE: Pay the guy 250 dollars for the hole you knocked into his trailer.
STOCK ANALYST to customer: We don’t think United Widget will meet our expectation for fourth quarter earnings this year.
SUBTITLE: Sell this mutt.
KEN LAY to Enron stockholders: Buy.
TOBACCO EXECUTIVE to Congress: There’s no scientific proof that nicotine is addictive or that smoking causes lung cancer.
SUBTITLE: Your mother had cancer because of tree pollution and she CHOSE to smoke four packs a day. All we did was make the stuff available.
RUM COMPANY EXECUTIVE to news media: We find that at a certain level, the consumption of 151 proof beverages has a fast acting and moderately long-duration effect on the autonomic response times of a particular class of individuals.
SUBTITLE: Drink a shot glass of this stuff and you’ll be drunk for a week, and a menace on the roads. If you’re 14 and under, it’ll kill you in 20 minutes or less.
GENERAL to Congress: We call it a peace keeper missile system because The Aggressor will not want to engage us in any meaningful way.
SUBTITLE: we can blast those clowns back to the stone age by pushing two buttons in a missile silo in the middle of the desert. I hope they’re stupid enough to try something.
ROAD SIGNS: Route 495 East, Route 87 North, Traffic Moving Well To Cross Island Parkway.
SUBTITLES: Long Island Expressway AWAY from the city, New York State Thru-way to Albany, Traffic not too bad until you get there. Then, it’ll “well” into a total screwup.
MAGAZINE to subscribers: Published bi-monthly .
SUBTITLE: published every other month except combined issues in March and August and a triple issue in December-January-February, and no issue in May on alternate leap years. All of which means you never know when the thing’ll show up.
IRS to taxpayers: Combine the totals on lines 12a and 14b, then subtract the total on line 23f.
SUBTITLE: we haven’t figured this one out yet.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2006 Which means this is a slightly edited re-run.