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Reading SoundsClosed-Captioned Media and Popular Culture$
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Sean Zdenek

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226312644

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226312811.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 December 2019

Context and Subjectivity in Sound Effects Captioning

Context and Subjectivity in Sound Effects Captioning

(p.81) Three Context and Subjectivity in Sound Effects Captioning
Reading Sounds

Sean Zdenek

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores how sounds acquire meaning in specific audiovisual contexts. Even if we know, in raw technical terms, what a sound is – where it comes from, who or what made it, how to reproduce it precisely – we still won’t have enough information to caption it. To explore this claim, this chapter analyzes a single recurring sound – the Hypnotoad’s drone on Futurama – through the variety of captions attached to it over the course of nine years (2001-2010). The sheer variety of captions for a single non-speech sound points to a deeply subjective practice in which captioners rhetorically invent meaning that hasn’t quite existed before within the universe of the show. This same variety of captions also raises questions about the need for consistency in episodic television captioning. This chapter is rounded out with five additional examples from Family Guy, Twilight, Sunshine Cleaning, Hick, and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.

Keywords:   sound effects, context, subjectivity, rhetorical invention, hypnotoad, futurama

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