What Did You Say??

I was watching a Hallmark channel love story this past week – one of their typical “June wedding” movies.  And as I usually do, I had the captions on because, having the attention span of a gnat, I don’t always catch the dialogue of t.v. shows and the captions help. Usually. But in the case of this destination-wedding themed bit of escapism, the captions let me down. Big time.

I can’t be the only one to have noticed. I mean, I realize these movies cater to a very particular niche, but nonetheless, I’m sure they have a somewhat broad audience who, like me, partake in the weekly guilty pleasure. You’d think with the revenues generated by the romance industry, especially considering it’s Hallmark of all people, that there would be a higher quality of closed-captioning available. Well, you would be wrong.

Now, I realize that most captioning is mechanized these days and with automated translations come massive translation fails, especially when the actor on-screen is speaking a language the captioning program doesn’t understand.  I’ve seen some very good, high quality movies or shows where the caption states “Jane Doe speaking Vulcan…” or “John Smith speaking in High Valyrian,” which demonstrates an obvious programming flaw, but at least in those cases, even the caption program realizes, hey, I need to be respectful here even though I can’t make heads or tails of whatever it is they’re saying. If we’re really lucky, the movie’s internal production system kick in and the translation appears via subtitles built into the movie. Sadly, that’s not always the case, as proven by my foray into the wilds of Hallmark movies previously mentioned above.

So, as I said, the plot was centered around a destination wedding set at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico, complete with white sand beaches, turquoise water, the obligatory romantic tension between completely dissimilar people, and Spanish-speaking locals…you know how they do…in Mexico. With such a heads-up as to the setting of this movie, you’d think that a strategy would’ve been put into place to cover and possibly translate any oh, I don’t know, Spanish dialogue. But there, you would be wrong again.

I’ll set up one of the scenes in question for you – zoom in on a beachside table at which sits the starring couple, who just happen to have perfect teeth and great tans, and who also just so happened to be in love years ago though it didn’t work out because they were completely unsuited for each other and who now reluctantly find themselves thrown back together while planning the wedding of a friend and whilst doing so forget that they’re completely unsuited for each other and eventually fall in love all over again – but, BUT before they realize they are once again besotted with each other, it is time to try out different foods for the dinner aspect of the aforementioned wedding they are planning – hence sitting beachside, surrounded by food. Enter one Spanish-speaking local who, apparently flustered by the couple’s nitpicking at each other, does his nervous best to describe the food he has prepared – and the results are these impressively awful captions.

 

 

I don’t think that means what you think it means…

I pretty much had the same look of utter confusion, though admittedly my teeth aren’t nearly as perfect. So. Yeah. I’m hoping before Hallmark releases another movie with bilingual dialogue that they sort of up their game on the whole captioning thing — on so many levels. One can only hope, but in the meantime, I won’t hold my breath.

 

Lunchtime Musings

On my lunch break I saw no less than 5 joggers meandering through my neighborhood, seemingly impervious to the off and on rain we’re currently experiencing. Seeing these fitness devotees got me thinking about one of my favorite shows:  Law and Order – Criminal Intent. I know. Just stay with me for a minute. At one time I also enjoyed watching Law and Order – SVU, but the stories broke my heart or induced rage-filled mutterings and who needs that from a television show? So, anyway, one thing I’ve noticed in these shows is that there seems to be an inordinate amount of joggers who meet their untimely demise. Who knew fitness was such a magnet for crime?

At any rate, it just so happens that I came across the below the other day and it seems very apropos for today’s observations and musings on exercise, crime, and Robert Goren.

 

That’s Entertainment

The following gives you an inside view on Sarah and I deciding whether to watch a movie or not.  Cause I know you guys are eaten up with curiosity over just how we manage to come to such an important decision.

Sarah: That movie looks sooo weird!  Even for us.

Me (*gleefully*): I know, right!?

Together: Let’s watch it!

T.V. Fails

Every time, and I mean every time (because it seems I don’t learn), I’m running through the t.v. guide a bit too quickly and I happen to catch a glimpse of “Keeping up…,” my nerdy, British-t.v. loving brain races with joy for the briefest little moment until, with utter and complete disappointment, I finish reading “…with the Kardashians.”

 

click photo for link to show bloopers -- sooo worth it

click photo for link to Keeping up Appearances bloopers — sooo worth it

Michael Scott Ruins Everything

Can we all agree that Steve Carell is a national treasure? I mean, come on. As Gru (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2) he showed us how lovable a tried and true villain can be. Sure, it was just his voice layered with a heavy accent, but the way he puts warmth into such a callous character was something only he could do. I adored him as Hammy, the hyperactive, cookie-addicted squirrel in Over the Hedge. Have you seen that one? If not, don’t feel bad. Not many people did. But – you should. If only for Hammy’s energy drink fueled antics.

Another movie of his that maybe didn’t get the biggest audience was Bewitched, in which he played the Uncle Arthur character. I remember the Paul Lynde performance from back in the day and trust me; Carell filled his shoes to perfection. Then there’s his turn as the naïve celibate with a heart of gold in The 40 Year Old Virgin. I won’t lie. There were a couple of gut-wrenching moments in that raunchy comedy that really made me feel his pain…both physically and emotionally. The scene where he has the heart-to-heart with his girlfriend’s daughter about being a virgin. The fact that he would put himself on the line like that for her. How devastatingly heartwarming. And Carell pulled it off without being sappy. We won’t even talk about his…umm…waxing.

But then everything changed.

My daughter, bless her heart, introduced me to The Office. She introduced me to. . . Michael Scott. Yes, I now know this was the role that allowed all those other roles to happen, but there’s no rule saying I need to watch anyone’s career arc in chronological order. Sheesh.

So I was pretty late in the game getting to know Michael Scott. He came pre-Gru, pre-Hammy, pre-Uncle Arthur. The point being that I already had a sound yet varied base for my pre-conceived notions on what Steve Carell could do as an actor. He could transition from one role to another keeping his distinct signature, but also inhabiting the character enough where I could lose myself in the plot.

Then Michael Freakin’ Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder-Mifflin’s Scranton Sales Branch on NBC’s The Office appeared and quickly obliterated everything I thought I knew about Mr. Carell. It’s a testament to his acting ability to say that I am now totally disillusioned by that character for the rest of my life. He did such a good job with portraying the self-centered, insecure, incompetent, big-hearted, crybaby Michael Scott that I just can’t look at him the same way anymore.

Hell, as it stands I can barely get through an episode of The Office for reasons that have everything and nothing to do with Steve Carell’s magnificent acting. I feel the embarrassment and awkwardness of the employees so keenly. Yes, they’re fictitious characters and it’s all just actors reading a script they memorized; a script that was designed specifically for the purpose of making me feel uncomfortable. But even knowing all that, it makes me cringe. Now, on top of that general unease, now I see Michael Scott in everything Steve Carell does.

It’s both a blessing and a curse that an actor knocks a role so far out of the park that there’s no coming back. But congratulations Mr. Carell on what you accomplished with Michael Scott. It’s not often that someone does too good of a job.

 

MichaelScott

Cartoon Role Models, Or Not

As all of you know, I love cartoons!

I’m not talking about animated TV shows like King of the Hill or The Simpsons, or even that stuff on Adult Swim. Those are shows intended for adults. I don’t like to adult.

When I was a kid, more years ago than I care to count, the only cartoons available were on Saturday. In fact, “Saturday morning cartoons” were quite the tradition. It’s a tradition that has died out – now that we have cable and satellite, there are channels every day that show classic cartoons – the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Channel, and so on.

So, regardless of when kids watch cartoons, they watch them a lot, and so of course a lot of how they behave can be affected by what they watch.

I have to admit that when I’m watching my cartoons (I’m a Looney Tunes kinda gal), I’m always curious to see how male and female characters are presented in other cartoons.

And I’m thinking of the female characters in cartoons aimed at pre-schoolers. The “educational” cartoons. Just what are they teaching young boys and girls about male and female roles?

Well, watch the opening sequence to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse some time.  Each of the characters introduces themselves. The male characters wave or smile, the female characters (Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse) thrust out a hip and raise a hand in a “come-hither” gesture.  It can’t just be me.

If you watch these shows, you’ll quickly see that Daisy is a flirt, who uses her “feminine wiles” – i.e. sex appeal – to get Donald to do what she wants. What is this teaching little girls about how they should interact with boys to get what they want?

Ever notice the stereotypical girl characters in these educations shows? For example in Rugrats, the girl Angelica is “spoiled and selfish” – and of course, bossy. (When a boy tells his friends what to do, he’s just “a leader,” but let a girl do it, and she’s just a bossy know-it-all.)

Ever notice in those shows with young male protagonists…the protagonist is usually a genius, while their sister is, if not a bossy-know-it-all, then an airhead? In fact, I can’t think of a pre-school cartoon where there is a girl genius.

Of course it’s not all bad news. Sheriff Callie’s Wild West presents an excellent female protagonist. Then there’s Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins.

But take a look at the other female characters in Doc McStuffins. While they’ve had episodes featuring a Bessie Coleman doll (the first African-American female licensed pilot) and a female rescue helicopter named Rhonda, many of the female characters are stereotypical with voices that just grate on my nerves.

There’s Dress Up Daisy, who speaks in a high falsetto and changes her outfit every few minutes. There’s Gloria Gorilla who loves to hug and who also uses a high falsetto voice. Spritzi Mitzi, the same thing.

It’s interesting to see how female characters have changed, but also in many ways remained the same, over the years.

What do you think of today’s cartoons for kids? Which are your favorites, and why?