Mediation: LOST in Translation

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Normal Mormon Wife and I just finished our Wednesday night tradition of laying down on the couch together under a warm, heavy blanket and watching Lost (okay, we snuggled, but it looked really feminine when I first wrote the word "snuggled".) Beside our date night that we try to scheme every weekend, I think watching Lost together is some of the most enjoyable time we spend as a couple every week. It is an absolute necessity that we watch Lost together for two primary reasons:

1) The NMW has to explain to me what is going on several times each episode. The whole time travel thing has really, really messed me up.
2) I serve a purpose similar to that of a cat's scratching pole for the NMW every time Ben does something creepy.

Because of my first-hand experience with how a television show jam packed with murder, deceipt, genocide, lying, manipulation, time travel and torture can enhance a married couple's love for each other, I felt compelled to come to the assistance of a reader named LOLiTA who said:

"My hubby and I have a disagreement when it comes to how we watch tv/movies together. I like the closed captioning on; he likes it off. This has caused a wedge in our tv viewing, and now we have to watch LOST on separate tv's; in separate rooms. Please help unite my family!"

Lolita, you and your husband are on dangerous ground here. If you cannot overcome this issue pretty soon you may end up living separate lives, just like when Sawyer and Kate were trapped in the opposing polar bear cages. You may never again experience the joys of riding a two-man bicycle, frolicking on a teeter-totter or sharing a bareback horse ride on the beach as the sun goes down behind the ocean. On second thought, all of those two-person activities sound fairly painful and would result in soreness, chafing and a possible staff infection. Maybe you would be happier and healthier living separate lives...

On a more serious note, the NMW and I attempted to watch a portion of Lost tonight with the closed captioning on as research for my advice to you. After about thirty seconds with CC, I made my decision:

Your husband is right. You need to take one for the team and turn off the closed captioning. There are a few understandable reasons for this.

1) I found myself paying more attention to the letters on the screen than on the actor's facial expressions, subtle movements and flaming arrows sticking out of their chests.

2) The CC jumps all over the screen when two people are having a conversation, which is distracting. It also covers up the actors faces at times. Since I have a mild crush on Kate and the NMW kinda digs Jack, covering their faces with closed captioning is like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

3) Sometimes the captions appear on the screen before one of the characters delivers a dramatic, intense one-liner, spoiling the moment for everybody.

But having the CC on was not all bad. Reading along with the dialogue helped me remember some of the details that I would have otherwise paid no attention to. Also, there were a few funny moments where the closed captioning described sounds in the background like (waves crashing), (wind blowing through trees) and (Hurly's stomach growling like the sound coming from the Pit of Despair in The Princess Bride.)

I think if we had enabled the closed captioning during tonight's episode when Sawyer goes back in time to see Kate delivering Claire's baby, it would have looked like this:

Kate: Push!
(Claire moaning)
Kate: Push, Claire!
(Claire grunting like Pumbaa from The Lion King)
Kate: Puuuuuush!
(Claire cursing)
Kate: I see the head!
(Rubbery stretching sound coming from Claire's body)
Kate: The baby's out!
(Baby crying)
(Sound of afterbirth being delivered)
(Sawyer throwing up in background)

Now, while I agree with your husband to kill the CC, perhaps the two of you can strike a deal. Unless you TiVo Lost you probably have a few minutes of free time during the commercials. What if you turn the CC off during the show and then turn it back on during the commercials? Since most programs have about twenty minutes of commercial breaks you would still be able to satisfy a little bit of your strange addiction to closed captioning.

Do whatever it takes to start watching Lost as a couple again. It will enrich your marriage and give you at least one night every week where you can lay down on the couch, wrap your arms around each other, and get comfy under a big blanket.

Just don't call it snuggling.

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carmar76 said...

I must say I agree w/ your advice about the CC on Lost. There are some shows CC enhances, because you can't always catch EVERYTHING the characters are saying in their rapid-fire way (Gilmore Girls, for example). But with Lost, I find that CC is too distracting.

However, depending on the reason behind Lolita's obsession with CC, a compromise may be to tape the show, watch first w/o CC & then watch later w/ the CC on in order to fully enjoy the experience.

Either way you look at it, we can all agree on one thing - Lost is an awesome use of an hour! : )

9:20 PM
M-O-R-G-A-N-'S said...

Good advice! I say NIX the CC, unless she needs it on for hearing impaired reasons? Either way it can be distracting. I have tried numerous times to use CC and I miss what the scene had shown thanks to reading CC instead.

Side note, thanks for making me want to hurl with these two lines(Sound of afterbirth being delivered) (Sawyer throwing up in background) LOL!

As for LOST it's awesome when it sticks to a schedule. :o) Otherwise you really do get lost.

10:42 PM
John said...

CC is on all of the time in our household. I would prefer it off but have gotten used to it. It became a fixture because kids would be running around being noisy and we'd miss things, so in order to compensate, CC was turned on and it hardly ever goes off no. Your points are valid and I will once again try to persuade my wife that when the kids are in bad, there really is no reason to have them on.

10:53 PM
Natalie said...

Watching it with CC on seems like such a bad idea. Man I love this show and if any words covered up Sawyer I might cry. We do enjoy watching it as a couple and coming up with and discussing our own theories.

6:21 AM
Shannon said...

I am so glad that my Hubby and I both have to have CC on. We are not deaf but we might as well be. I think that you solution is just ok. Most commercials do not have CC. Maybe the solution should be that they need to DVR and watch the show without CC. That way if she did not catch the line they can go back and hear it again.

8:16 AM
Megan said...

LOLs to Natalie! And an "Amen!" to quality couch time! If you need some form of reading during LOST, watch last week's episode before the new one right before it airs. They do all sorts of pop-ups for you to read and get caught up on.

BTW, the NMW and I used to have a LOST call chat or two. And as I'm slurping old blog posts into a blog book, I'm finding that some of our theories aren't that far off! Yay us! :)

8:58 AM
LOLiTA said...

Thank you all for the good advice. I do agree that the CC is very distracting and, with a show like LOST, you can't really afford distractions. I did try the CC off last night, and I'm pretty sure your version of the Claire childbirthing experience was probably right.

And no, the world did not end because the CC was off. But it did provide us with some great LOST discussion last night. I mean, it's not everyday that you find out Jin is actually alive.

Thanks again.

11:10 AM
Admiral Lily said...

I'm afraid we can't "all agree on one thing" that "Lost is an awesome use of an hour." I hate Lost. In fact, I've given up TV all together. It's just not worth it anymore. There's nothing good on and what IS good gets horribly decimated or canceled by the Evil PTB; the former of which can result in the loss of three years of your life for nothing and the latter leaves you with a eternal cliffhanger of doom never to be resolved.

Back on topic, my sister and her husband both like the closed captioning on but that's for the reason of not always being able to catch what someone is saying because they whisper, mumble or talk too fast. I'll turn it on briefly once in awhile for this very reason. They *always* watch movies and tv this way. Drives me nuts but we don't watch anything together often so I can usually not worry about it.

I'm glad LOLiTA seems to have found the solution she needed.

2:57 PM
Val said...

Ah, LOST. The only roller coaster ride I don't actually throw up on. I know a lot of people gave up on it after season two, but that's just cuz it didn't fit into their idea of where LOST should have gone. You've just got to hop on and enjoy the ride. We love LOST and find it one of the few shows we can watch with our teenage girls. In fact, my 16 year old came home with this on her hand the day of the season premiere:

It's official. We're addicted.

P.S. CC drives me crazy on any show! Apparently, spelling is not a job requirement of a Closed Captioner!

4:29 PM
Maren Hansen said...

you're wife kinda digs jack? for real? man, i told my husband that Sawyer is the man for me. that is, if he weren't around... ;)

7:09 PM
M said...

The things I learn from your blog! Also the amazing power of suggestion. I never dreamed that anyone who wasn't hearing-impaired would consider CC. Now I'm mulling it over - just like that. Although do you think dad would go for it?

9:17 PM
Amy said...

I like watching tv with the CC on, mainly because we live in an apartment with paper-thin walls and if our volume is up at all, the kids can't fall asleep. But, to each their own!

4:24 PM

I'm giggling at your blog. It's fun. (Especially Pork Loin!) But, although it may have been a mistake, I am giggling that you spelled Staph infection "staff infection." Not because it is misspelled, but because I think I have discovered a new clever pun.

Thank you!

9:04 PM
Churndash said...

I agree with the recommendation to DVR and watch so you can back up if you miss something. Or someone (DH) wants to make comments that make you miss the next few lines... That has saved us from many arguments or other trauma due to the phone ringing, etc. We only watch things that are recorded now. Plus there's that whole ability to fast-forward through the commercials - priceless.

7:31 AM
Emiliecue said...

1 - most commercials are not captioned :) I have to ask my very patient husband what the cows say in the happy cheese or whatever from california cows are saying. (yes, I know, that sentence made pretty much no sense).
2 - as for spelling, captions are not done by typing letter by letter. no way in heck ANYONE could keep up with that. It's done by phonemes/sounds with sort of a predictive text thing going on. You try to keep up with those conversations and type that fast...sometimes you mishear things, we all do (well besides the ones who have absolutely no hearing anyway).
3 - I've never not had captions, but I do have a profound hearing loss, thus I do require them :) My husband is great, and now is able to watch tv without it driving him nuts. If you get used to it, you see both the tv and the captions at the same time, sort of like you listen to music in the background while talking to someone at the same time.

9:01 PM
Nelson said...

Well first of all, I know I would never waste an hour of my time (I have too many other things to waste my time doing) watching LOST, but to each his own. I don't watch TV with the CC on but I do know that you can get used to it. Have you ever watched Life is Beautiful with the CC on? The movie is so good that you forget they are even on and you can read them at watch the movie without missing a beat. Maybe the fact that you can't do is a sign that LOST isn't a good enough show. Also, CC is TV specific so where the CC shows up and in what font and size is mostly dependant on the TV.

2:34 PM
Michemily said...

30 seconds isn't long enough! I always watch with closed captioning on in case I don't understand something and I love the third dimension it adds to the film. One gets used to it so it's no longer distracting.

10:38 AM