Commentary: What did he say?!

Television audio often is unfriendly to seniors. 

Story: Joe Angione

Everybody knows getting old isn’t for sissies. Each year, seniors notice things are changing for them: their health suffers, and that includes their hearing, particularly their sensitivity to both loud and soft sounds.

This sensitivity becomes particularly irritating when watching television. Seniors find music tracks far too loud, nearly drowning out dialogue. They also find that actors mumble more than they speak their lines. This frequently making
them unintelligible.

Today’s actors, if they are taught at all, are not instructed to enunciate clearly. They’re required to shoot for realism such as when people speak softly during intimate moments or hiss rapidly at each other during moments of anger or fright. The realism is top notch. Unfortunately, the comprehension is terrible for seniors … maybe for everybody.

In the old days, when many Hollywood actors were trained on the Broadway stage, comprehension was most important. Dialogue could be strong, angry, intimate, but always enunciated for maximum comprehension. Today, no one would want TV or movie actors to speak their lines woodenly as in reciting for an oral exam. But we do want to hear what is being said on screen.

There has always been a perceived need for music tracks to accompany TV and movie productions. And they can do an excellent job of highlighting emotions and actions portrayed on screen. However, does this music have to be so earsplitting and overpowering?

Too often, the music fails to complement the theme or genre of the production. Frequently, it interferes with the message the actors are trying to communicate. Viewers might think the music is there because “payola” money was offered by the artist or record label to get it aired on TV. This cheapens the quality of the production.

The next time you watch a show with music that’s too loud or inappropriate, ask yourself if any music was necessary at all. If not, contact your cable system and the television networks to suggest they “86” (kill) the music. Many thousands of disgruntled viewers are doing this, and also using Twitter and other social media to complain—and they’re being heard.

Your gripes will be better received if you can lodge them as a member of a group. For Villagers, that might mean getting your village association to magnify your complaint. Stand up and be counted. Get involved. The quality of television and movie entertainment depends on you.  

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