There used to be a running theme through my blog posts – I would write about things I had learnt or things I had done with my flatmate, Ellie. She has now moved out of the flat as she has bought a house with her boyfriend. I don’t even know what to call her anymore?… My friend, work colleague, an EX?! Anyway, she has featured so much in my posts over the year, that she started to charge me for the privilege of using her name and photographs –  this payment came in the form of Flat White coffee and now I think we are actually addicted! (Disclaimer: I’m joking about the charge, but we really are addicted to coffee).

Ellie and I decided to go to the cinema last weekend. She had been telling me about how she was really craving going to the cinema as it is such a rare activity for her. This is because the films have to be subtitled and there are just such few screenings of films with subtitles available.

Last year we went to the cinema to see a captioned screening of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the Hatfield Odeon. This was our experience that I wrote about on Facebook:

Due to this, when we arrived and went to order our tickets, I asked the member of staff behind the till if this screening was definitely going to be a captioned performance and told him about what happened last time. He assured me it would be. We chose our seats and saw that only two other people had booked. The cinema was so so quiet as it was early in the day to see a film, which made it convenient for the cinema to put on the film with captions and if there wasn’t any they would easily be able to restart it. Last time there would have been an army of hearing people complaining about the captions or restarting of a film, this time there was not.

People who are deaf are the minority – and often hearing people will complain about the subtitles being ‘annoying’ or saying they interfere with their experience of the cinema. Even though the tickets may say ‘captioned’ hearing audiences sometimes even claim it was not clear that the screening would have subtitles and were irritated that they did not know. I think this is a factor as to why cinemas arrange unusual and sparse captioned screenings for the deaf as cinemas are keen to please their regular hearing customers.

There are other captioned screenings shown but at unreasonable times like 2pm during the week. Deaf people work (they’re not just at home twiddling their thumbs). It is a very inconvenient time to have a film with captions on for the people who actually need it. I would love for Ellie to be able to go to the cinema on a Saturday night like every hearing child or adult has been able to do their whole lives.

We went to see Disney’s new movie ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ which certainly was a waste of time. Not only was the film slightly bizarre, but the film did not contain subtitles the whole way through. If there was a song on in the background, the lyrics were not consistently captioned. The soundtrack contained original songs, ones that were not familiar to me. I could therefore not even explain to Ellie what the song was about or who sang it.

As well as this, there were words missing from what I could hear and what was being subtitled.  The nicknames that were used for characters were not translated right and it was irritating me. Ellie was not receiving the same information as me – despite the whole reason for coming to a captioned performance.

The trailers before the film were not subtitled. This meant that deaf people coming to the cinema to see a subtitled show can only access the film and not trailers for other films that they may want to go and see.  The lights had already gone down by this point so it was very difficult to see each other signing to keep each other entertained until the film began.

There is still so much work to be done here in order for deaf people to have equal opportunities when going to the cinema. I have heard rumours about glasses that you wear during a film and they subtitle the film for you automatically. As a society we need to be more tolerant and aware of other people and their needs. If we go to see foreign films – we read the subtitles in English and it is no problem. I cannot understand why people have such issues when subtitles are on in English speaking films.

For some deaf children and maybe some adults, their reading abilities may not be at a level where they can easily access the subtitles. There needs to be an alternative way to access films for people in this situation. When will it feel like we have finally entered the 21st Century? We live in a world where Vegan burgers bleed like real beef burgers, but we can’t have subtitles on every film for people who need it. #thisisjusttheVeganning


One thought on “When going to the CinEMMA

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