Neurologically In and Out of Sync

Recently, an article came to my attention about how those with autism have sight and sound separated, likening it to a badly dubbed movie. After reading it, it cleared up some things for me that I do in real life but in a strange sense, my appreciation for movie syncs has deepened.

When I’m alone, I watch movies with the subtitles on, even if the primary language is English. I’ve been doing this for more than seven years but I never really thought about why until this study was published. Without the subtitles, I hear the audio and see the visual but the connection between them is not as strong as most people. With the subs on, I can read them as the movie plays and it helps me reinforce what’s going on.

The thing about the subtitles is that they are only on screen as long as they are necessary. Closed-captioning, which I don’t use, is too slow and actually aggravates the problem. By the time whatever’s said has been captioned, the program/film is three or four lines ahead and trying to catch up becomes pointless. The only time I’ll watch something closed-captioned is if I’m in a doctor’s office or at McDonald’s because it is done out of courtesy of others. I’ve tried the English Descriptive Video Service once and disliked it; I won’t use it until I absolutely have to way off in the distant future.

So what about watching movies with others? Unless the film is foreign and employs subtitles because they’re necessary to understand or it’s a movie sync, I do my best without them. It’s mostly because of the stigma of having to admit that you need help but don’t want to impose on others out of fear of being exposed for your neurological differences. Even then, watching without the subs is an exercise in understanding what’s going on in the film.

With movie syncs, the alternate soundtrack (whatever it is) acts as auditory subtitles, like a good director commentary. The soundtrack tells a story that, when paired with a movie with the subtitles on, provides subtext for the whole that might not have been contemplated on when separated. It is through syncing (intentional or not) that I can understand the film on a different level with a clean and open mind.

It makes sense in my head, at least.


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