Why are our movie channels squeamish about some words in the sub-titles?
Watching late night films on DTH channels is great fun. But what’s more fun is picking out the priceless gems that appear in the sanitised sub-titles. Here’s a short list I’ve made of the “naughty” words that are substituted with “acceptable” words drawn from the sub-titles of these films.
Intercourse Sex Bitch Witch Shit Crap Breast Chest Damn Darn
Every time I see a sanitised word in the sub-titles, my mind automatically goes to the “naughty” word that’s being withheld. You probably know the story of a sage who tells his disciples that they are free to think about anything other than a monkey during a session of silence. Put like that, there’s no doubt that most of the disciples are going to think about a monkey.
It’s the same thing with the prissy censorship in the sub-titles. I now take a perverse delight in spotting such substitutes. Readers, do join me in the word-watching and add to this list.
The logic (if there is one) behind introducing such verbal proxies is a mystery. I cannot fathom why ‘intercourse’ would be an acceptable word but ‘sex’ be considered dirty. I mean, if we are looking at being scientifically accurate, shouldn’t the sub-titles say “Oh faeces” every time someone says “Oh shit”?
And what’s this about calling bitches witches? What good does that do? As an honorary Ravenclaw in my pretend world of Hogwarts, I certainly resent the casual exchange.
Still, my all-time favourite is the replacing of ‘breast’ with ‘chest’. It’s stupid from every angle I see it. Anatomically speaking, breasts are different from chests. From a feminist point of view, the substitution stinks because it makes ‘breast’ seem like a dirty word. Linguistically, any children’s dictionary would tell you the difference in meaning.
And as Julia Roberts says in ‘Notting Hill’: No seriously. I mean, they're just breasts. Every second person in the world has got them.
But, probably, the sub-titles would read: No seriously. I mean, they’re just chests. Every
second person in the world has got them.
(Kannal Achuthan often ponders on philosophical conundra, and writes down some of it. You may contact her at email@example.com)