Read Between The Lines

This week, Karamo Brown from Queer Eye took on a new makeover brief, this time on behalf of everyone who’s ever used Netflix subtitles. Fans have been complaining that the channel’s subtitles misrepresent, censor and simplify dialogue on a range of shows. Netflix has duly vowed to raise its game and all has been forgiven.

Now, subtitles are normally for the hard of hearing and teenage boys watching their dad’s horror DVDs on near-silent when everyone’s gone to bed. But with so much social content being produced for sound off, MotherZine thought it pertinent to list some subtitle guidelines so as not to incur the further wrath of celebrity TV makeover stylists.



  1. Don’t simplify

It is not necessary to simplify or translate for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers. This is not only condescending, it is also frustrating for lip-readers.



  1. Preserve the style

Your editing should be faithful to the speaker’s style of speech, taking into account register, nationality, era, etc. This will affect your choice of vocabulary. For instance:

  • Register: mother vs mum; deceased vs dead; intercourse vs sex;
  • Nationality: mom vs mum; trousers vs pants;
  • Era: wireless vs radio; hackney cab vs taxi.



  1. Strong language

Do not edit out strong language unless it is absolutely impossible to edit elsewhere in the sentence – people find this extremely irritating and condescending. If the offending word is bleeped, put the word BLEEP in the appropriate place in the subtitle – in caps, in a contrasting colour and without an exclamation mark.



4.   Retaining humour

Give less time if a joke would be destroyed by adhering to the standard timing, but only if there is no other way around the problem, such as merging or crossing a shot.



5.   Critical information

In factual content, the main aim is to convey the “what, when, who, how, why”. If an item is already particularly concise, it may be impossible to edit it into subtitles at standard timings without losing a crucial element of the original. A detailed explanation of an economic or scientific story may prove almost impossible to edit without depriving the viewer of vital information. In these situations a subtitler should be prepared to vary the timing to convey the full meaning of the original.





Life Lessons From Love Island

Who needs qual research when you have a sun-kissed human zoo for audience understanding?

This Week: Denial

Love Island is a game that contestants play in order to win £50,000, a slew of Instagram endorsements and the hearts of the nation. But openly accepting that fact on screen makes you look calculated and guarantees early dismissal from the villa. Which is why everyone on the show states, with hand on heart, that they’re in it to find love.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It’s the failure to be able to tell fact from fiction, and, worse, the devastating failure to know oneself. But that’s okay because denial is in fact a powerful tool that guarantees survival; not only on reality TV shows but the entire human race.


Biological leaps like dexterity may have gone a long way to setting humanity apart from other species. But our uniquely human ability to deny reality in the face of inarguable evidence keeps us at the top of the food chain.

If a man stepped up to your lady at the disco, the sensible thing would be to walk away, especially if there’s a risk that the man might crack an empty bottle of Peroni over your head. But a cocktail of denial, pride and stupidity compels us to stand up to the imposter and show off the few boxing moves we learnt from Rocky 3 (the one with Mr T).

The denial of reality is our mechanism for overcoming an evolutionary dead-end; if we faced up to the anxiety of our own mortality, we would shy away from the risks that come with the competition to procreate.