(non)power of captioning

By Yousef Fatehpour-tehran

So far, I’ve been having trouble deciding what clip I want to use. It’s not necessarily the content that’s an issue, it’s more so whether I want to use something with more clear context or something more ambiguous. I’m probably going to use the first 30 seconds or so from the beginning of a movie. I think that focusing on an establishing scene in a movie would play off as a more neutral context for anyone who’s going to be changing my captions.

I think the hardest part of this project so far is the fact that I cannot find companies who outsource captions and subtitles to movies. I’m having trouble finding if companies like Netflix partner with a corporation that specializes in captions. That’s probably the priority at the moment, to find if there is a sort of homogeny in captioning, because I want to tackle the future of open-source-esque captioning, and the implications of it.

The thing is, I’m not so interested in shattering ideas of neutral translations, because I think that’s already a given. We already know that there’s room to improve in that field. The question is, is there a hegemony in captioning, and also, if we are allowed as a people to make changes to that hegemony, some what, what are the implications of that? I believe that open-source captioning would be great, but it’s not a safe haven for the free world. It’s not a brand new world where people can change captions however they want and finally allow themselves to translate as they please. The technology that’s allowed to be changed, is HANDLED by the powers themselves. This introduces a really weird illusion of power that I think is problematic. 

If I can compare it to anything, It’d probably be the very internet itself. Yes, of course we’re granted access to this entire new world of information. The internet is a good thing, in my opinion. HOWEVER, as it’s become centralized and monetized, we’ve been fed a lie that it’s free. Net neutrality brought up concerns of paywalls and access, yet there are already major issues of access going on as we speak. The only reason we’re allowed to use half of the internet is because we have to sign off a form that sends our information away to third party companies. This is the paradox, or rather, illusion of free will. And I think this illusion is one that has been with people for decades now. In any field. I want to focus on this particular illusion of free will in regards to captioning. I’d be interested in hearing what people think, on whether this is a choice of choosing the lesser evil or not.