So the other week I was noodling around the YouTube app on the Apple TV and came across a video entitled “Why Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan Has the Best Space Battle Ever!“; and so of course I had to watch it*. You, too, can watch it here:
Now of course that is not only the best Star Trek movie; it is indeed one of the best space battles ever put to film. But this isn’t a post about space battles. It’s a post about automatically-generated subtitles, and what YouTube thought Alfred Hitchcock was saying during a clip where he discussed dramatic tension, using as an example a dinner party scene. If everyone is sitting around the table and suddenly a bomb goes off, that’s a surprise; but if the audience knows the bomb is there, and the people sitting around the table don’t, that’s suspense. The audience will be waiting for the bomb to go off, hoping someone will notice it and disarm it (or maybe not, if the people around the table are a bunch of assholes). All a very legitimate discussion of narrative technique. Unfortunately, the automatically-generated subtitles undermined this pretty hilariously, to wit:
Now of course Hitchcock didn’t say “smoothies”. But, you know, if the bomb was big enough, then sure. It could blow them all to smoothies. Just don’t drink them afterwards.
* I’m sure it surprises no one that my YouTube recommendations are full of science fiction videos, along with cat videos, dog videos, otter videos, and songs by or similar to Metric.