The topic of subtitles can be very divisive. In the same way that disputes about whether pineapple belongs on pizza, or whether the toilet seat should stay up or down have led to much debate among families and couples all over the world, the same can be said for the issue of whether subtitles should be on or off when we watch movies/TV shows.
The Drawbacks of Subtitles
Although subtitles have provided us with many great memes, some people can’t stand seeing these little letters on the screen, and there are some drawbacks. For example, they can be visually distracting at first or can result in you seeing the punchline of a stand-up comedy show before it is spoken, therefore lessening the comedy of the timing. Of course, people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or watching films or TV shows in a foreign language may not have any choice—but many people with perfectly good hearing also choose to keep the subtitles on.
If you are one of those people who hates having subtitles on the screen, it can be hard to imagine why anyone would choose to use them if they don’t need them. There are, in fact, plenty of different reasons to put the subtitles on the next time you watch your favorite Netflix show, as outlined below.
It Can Be Much Easier to Remember Character Names
If you are a visual learner, it can often be very hard to remember the names of features such as characters or place names. While this doesn’t matter too much in some shows or movies, in others there can be a lot to remember. For example, fantasy shows such as Game of Thrones and movies such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy often have hundreds of names of characters and places, most or all of which are fictional, making them harder to remember than if they were called “Bob” or “Sarah!”
You May Retain Information More Effectively
It is not just character names that turning closed captioning on can help you remember. For many people, any information is better remembered when it is read than when it is heard. By watching TV and movies with the subtitles on, you get the best of both worlds, so there is less chance of you forgetting what you watched between episodes.
You May Notice Lines You Never Noticed Before
Sometimes lines of dialogue can be obscured by other sounds, or when multiple characters speak at once. In some cases, subtitles increase realism when you are not able to hear every word, especially if the characters are arguing or speaking over each other. However, this can also lead you to miss lines that may be important or entertaining, and there is usually a reason that the writers put those lines in the script. Subtitles may also negate the effects of the sounds from your own home, such as munching popcorn or other snacks while you watch!
Getting Used to Subtitles Allows You to Enjoy Foreign Films and TV
Once you get used to seeing text on your screen, it can open up a whole new world of foreign-language movies and TV shows that you otherwise would never have been able to understand! After all, when non-English-speaking people watch productions made in English, they have to use the subtitles!