Outrageous Outrages Shedding logical light on ridiculous and annoying things

Huh? What? I Can’t Hear You!!

Posted on March 22, 2010

See?? Thanks to this caption, you can tell its an apple!

I love Apple TV.  When it first came out I didn't get it.  I don't think many people did.  Today, however, this high-speed, HD, content-rich device sits next to every TV in my house.  I don't really use YouTube.  I don't really use Netflix.  But I do like my movies, my TV shows, and things that are quality.  After a few minutes with the slick little white remote and for just a few bucks, I get HD movies ready to play in seconds on the unnecessarily-huge screen of my choice.  I love America (yes, clicking that will let you buy the United States of America on Amazon, and even have it shipped overnight).

I guess you could say I'm the perfect demographic for one of these gadgets.  Busy professional, intellectual, English-speaking, morally-grounded, and an affinity for simple luxuries in life.  I bet Steve Jobs would be proud.  However, I'm not the only person in the USA, and I'm not the only person who likes movies.  According to the 2000 Census just under 20% of homes had a language other than English as the primary language, with almost 11% speaking Spanish.  That doesn't count bilingual homes like mine where English is the primary language, but we also speak another.  Further, an out-dated NCHS study puts the number of hearing impaired at over 20 million.   I'd further estimate that an even larger group of Americans have overly-complicated sound systems hooked up to their TVs that they haven't figured out how to use.  If not twice that, and then some.  So given this, why hasn't Apple bothered to provide Closed Captioned versions of their Apple TV programming?

Okay, BORING!  Right?  Wait a second.  My Tivo displays captions for absolutely everything.  Even live TV like American Idol has them.  I even have the choice to put some things in Spanish if I want.  Every dust-collecting DVD I own has captions, most in multiple languages.  And I'm not talking about Apple TV lacking captions in Sanskrit, Bikna, or Ainu.  I'm talking about English.  Since purchasing my first Apple TV several years ago and turning CC on shortly thereafter, I've only had one movie display CC subtitles.  One.  Outrageous!  And that movie was Precious, which although I wasn't really watching, they tell me it was good.

I can only imagine that Apple must have to pay for CC subtitles, or that there's some really good reason why they aren't available.  My wife, whose first language wasn't English, speaks it very well, but she much prefers to be able to read along just in case she doesn't understand something.  Now that I've got two loud kids and a noisy puppy in the house, frankly I prefer being able to read titles as well.  It took me a few weeks to get used to it so I didn't miss the movie while I was busy reading, but now I'm very used to it.  But try as we might, I just can't seem to find Apple-supported content that uses them.

We still download and watch movies from time to time, but usually we go with something on Tivo instead.  I do love my Tivo, with its light-up bean remote, crazy-simple menu system, and ability to record two shows at once.  Yes, I know Uverse would let me record 4 shows at once.  Fortunately there's never more than 2 good things on at a time because Uverse isn't even available in La Jolla!

But back on topic, I'd love to know Apple's excuse.  I'd certainly be willing to pay a few bucks for a movie far more often if I knew my wife, my deaf neighbor, and my idiot friend who can't plug in a stereo would enjoy watching it with me.

Posted by Reed

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  1. Clearly someone high up at Apple has read this blog post. Last night we watched the movie Brothers, and it allows the viewing of Closed Captions. Thanks Steve! Our readers appreciate what you are doing for us as well as the people I mentioned in my post!

  2. im loving your blog, most of your concerns are my concerns too, thanks for putting them out there :D ….this one specially, i have the same problem, i need captions to fully enjoy movies, my home is noisy as well….
    aprovecho tambien para felicitarte por tu niña, Sienna?… hopefully we see u guys sooner than later… un abrazo, Alicia

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