Blog Post #1: Craptions

My body is an ecology that has been labeled “disabled” by society. My eyesight is deemed a perfect 20/20, my smell is heightened, and my taste is precise. But my ears are not up to par and therefore the whole machine is classified as less functioning. I can hear only about 60% of my environment, possibly less—I haven’t tested my hearing in five years because I know what the results will be. I know my disabled body. I know my world is becoming more silent by the day.

What’s left of my hearing is often clouded in a mellow ringing. It sounds like the hum of a desktop computer left in standby mode. Sometimes I stick my pointer finger into my ear and wrap my thumb around the back of it, wiggling it in a desperate attempt to turn off the computer completely. It never works. Listening to something else distracts me from the ringing. I know I shouldn’t use my Beats headphones as often and as loud as I do but the pitches and tones stream into my ears so pleasantly. The ringing is lost to the bass and vibrations of A Tribe Called Quest as my mind recites the lyrics to itself. My audiologist in New York said there was no physical cure for the ringing and that only psychological distraction can make it better. My audiologist in Connecticut said that was bullshit and that I better find an ear, nose and throat doctor. But I’m so tired of doctor’s appointments. The Beats will do for now.

I’m a media junkie. Aside from music, I religiously consume television, film, books and live entertainment. Books hold a special place in my heart because they require no effort by the ears. When I am reading, I am perfectly able, and my body is of no restriction for the task it is focusing on. But my love for all other forms of media is perpetually challenged.

When We the Animals was released, I immediately purchased a ticket to see it at the Angelika Theater. It was a highly anticipated indie Latino film that I was eager to support. Upon purchasing my ticket, I asked the cashier for a closed caption device. He did what several workers do when I ask for the device, he wandered in his small cubicle for about five minutes until he found the device somewhere thrown on the floor. The device is a bulky black box that stands on top of a thick coil wire, connected to a piece of rubber shaped to fit in a cup holder. The idea is for me to place the rubber piece into the cup holder of my theater seat and read the blacklight captions on the box as the movie is playing. The theater employee flipped one of two switches on the side of the box, hoping it would turn on the device. It was clear he was not thoroughly aware of how it worked despite it being his job to setup and program these devices.

“I know how it works, no worries” I said to him. I was too excited to see the film to go into my usual spool about how employees should be better trained in accessibility.

As I sat down, I forced the rubber bottom into my cup holder. I adjusted the wire so the box was in my line of vision without covering too much of the film screen. The device plopped over a few times, even crashing to the floor once. As I did this, the person across from me watched with confusion and pity. I finally managed to get the device to awkwardly stay in place and looked over at the eyes I felt invading my space of struggle. I smiled, they blushed and turned away.

The previews began and the box only read its introductory standby message. I shrugged, movie trailers are hardly captioned on the big screen. I watched the previews, hearing the intense sounds effects of violence and crashing but only sporadic glimpses of what the actors were saying. Much of my understanding of the trailers depended on text frames and context clues. I made note of the ones I would like to re-watch online with captions.

We the Animals finally appeared on the screen as I looked at the box for descriptive text of the chaotic scene. The standby message remained. I waited patiently until the actors began to speak to each other, hoping that the dialogue would at least show up on the box. The standby message remained. I began to sweat as I often do when I am frustrated and anxious. I tried to hear what I could of the movie as I pulled the rubber base out of the cup holder, flicking the switch just as the booth person had. Back and forth, pause. Back and forth, pause. My eyes darted from the box to the screen back and forth, back and forth. The standby message remained. Having missed 15 minutes of the film already, I stepped out of the theater with the bulky box of “craptions” in hand.

This happens to me often and the frustration and heartbreak becomes more brutal each time. All the technology in this world and still, I can’t simply enjoy a movie like everyone else can.

Destiny Lopez

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~ by dleelopez77 on February 17, 2019.

12 Responses to “Blog Post #1: Craptions”

  1. Most Affective. Very descriptive with a strong personal voice.

    • Ignore the last comment. Most Affective. I like the way you describe your experience in the movie theater with the closed caption device, especially, in the second to last paragraph. Even though I personally haven’t worked with the device, I can almost sense the frustration in your post.

  2. Best Overall – I could both feel the excitement of seeing the moive and let down when the caption machine did not work as I read. Also, I knew that movies had closed captioning but I never even wondered where the caption were so I was surprised to learn about the small black box.

  3. Most affective – As you described the dread of the caption box not working and your pain in having to leave the movie, I could feel those feelings as if I was a friend sitting next to you in the theater watching your excitement disappear

  4. Most affective – Your clear descriptions of the movie theater, strung with vivid verbs and adjectives, especially in these sentences: “I began to sweat as I often do when I am frustrated and anxious. I tried to hear what I could of the movie as I pulled the rubber base out of the cup holder, flicking the switch just as the booth person had. Back and forth, pause. Back and forth, pause.” I am able to feel as if I was sitting there next to you, having the same frustrations that you were feeling at that time.

  5. To me, this post was the best overall at being both informative and affective. When you wrote about the stress you felt looking from the box to the screen back and forth, I felt that stress and frustration- something I have never experienced personally but your writing conveyed that experience in a way I could understand.

  6. BEST OVERALL

    Easy to read, entertaining and interesting.
    Your post was very Informative regarding a situation I am not familiar with. Your detailed description of your experiences made it easy for me to imagine the places, objects and sensations you described.

  7. “Best Overall” — I felt very touched and affected by this blog post. The description of your specific feelings are very detailed, very real, and appealed to all my senses. I felt like I was physically going through each step with you, trying to fully enjoy We the Animals, from purchasing the tickets, to when you sat down in the theater and your efforts to hear. This example is also very informative and educational that you are making readers that you are treating your body as an ecology which challenged to me think outside of the box.

  8. Most Affective Blog Post & Best Overall: I think the way you delivered the really made me understand the difficulties that I may not notice otherwise. Especially when you present the experience of watching Animals, the parts you vividly show how heartbreak you are during that experience, you really convinced me that this is a problem that must be solved.

  9. This was the most affective of all blog posts. Destiny’s honesty regarding her disability is described with precise detail in a way does not evoke pity from her readers. She is being truthful; telling it how it is.

    “But I’m so tired of doctor’s appointments. The Beats will do for now.”

    Her bluntness here had a profound impact on me. The way she openly defies the suggestion of her doctors and continues to use her beats because of the pleasant feeling it gives her transmitted a strong feeling of resilience, independence, and self assurance.

    This simple sentence justifies her post as the winner of “Most Affective.”

  10. Most effective – I found the narrative writing of this blog post very powerful because it showed how close you were to the topic of the ecology and due to that I feel like you have a stronger stake in the making of this ecology. Even more, I liked how you chose such a mundane activity like going to the movies, that has a much different experience for you than for others; this is not an experience that is spectacular, rather one that is very ordinary and yet became extraordinary because it was not made accessible for you.

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