All Voices Matter: overcome your fear of subtitles


Prachurjya Shreya

In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

Aviance Pritchett, Staff Reporter

When Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy thriller Parasite bagged four wins at the Oscars on Sunday, many people rejoiced at its’ deserved awards. It sparked the discussion of the importance of Asian representation within media and how more award shows should take part in opening their doors to more foreign films, given that there’s so many out there that are full of potential. It also brought up the age old discussion of the use of subtitles.

Personally, I grew up with subtitles. Not because I was a little hard of hearing–not when I was younger at least–but I just liked having them up if I had an option. I’ve been doing it for years and it’s just so natural for me to put them on, and it doesn’t interrupt my watching experience at all. I also put subtitles on when I play video games because sometimes the max volume isn’t quite loud enough, and when I was younger I watched a bunch of anime, so reading subs was kind of necessary to me because I didn’t really like watching it dubbed. Honestly, I never understood why people were so vehemently against the use of subtitles or why people disliked them so much until I saw silly arguments about it on Twitter.

It’s not hard to read subtitles. It’s not hard to watch a movie, especially a foreign movie, with subtitles. It’s one of those things where if you think too hard about it as you read, then you’ll lose your focus and not actually comprehend what you’re reading, which is exactly what happens when you read virtually anything; when you’re reading a book, you might imagine the scenes as you read, or you just enter that weird space that is reading where you kind of block everything out and just focus on the text. 

It’s amazing how many other countries see no issue with subtitles regardless if the movie is in their language or in something else, yet America just struggles so badly with it. To put it bluntly, I think that the reason why so many people are against subtitles has to be because they’re lazy. You can’t get mad that a foreign movie doesn’t speak a language that you don’t understand and then turn around and reject the resource that solves that issue. I can’t wrap my head around how it’s so difficult, and why so many people are so averse to watching Parasite or really any foreign film solely because it requires and/or has subtitles.

Be a little more open-minded, people. Overcome the laziness and inch-tall barrier of your fear of subtitles. You’re missing out otherwise.