Closed captioning and Alex Trebek

I love watching closed captioning on TV, especially when it’s done poorly. Trying to keep up with live broadcast feeds must be an incredible challenge, and it’s easy to understand how certain words get misinterpreted as they’re rapidly keyed onto the screen.

“This Justin. Please report manna study in banker library.” (Translation: This just in. Police report man in custody following bank robbery.)

While on the treadmill at the Y Tuesday, I was reluctantly watching a syndicated daytime talk show called “The Doctors.” In what must be a wildly inappropriate breach of medical ethics, viewers call in to describe their health problems and are diagnosed on-air by a panel of photogenic physicians. So much easier than trudging to a real exam with your ugly doctor and his even uglier co-pay.

Yesterday’s episode was something of a year-end wrap-up wherein the doctors answered the top 100 questions they had received in the last 12 months. It was the usual sensational afternoon pap, focusing on the titillating (can you get pregnant in a swimming pool?) rather than the mundane (what’s this thing on my neck and why is it green?).

Naturally, sexual health was a primary concern and the subject of at least a third of the questions. As a tease right before one of the breaks, the panel told the audience that coming up was a question about how frequently “relations” should be had (I’m guessing they were not talking about my aunts from Indiana, “relations” I’d had enough of over the holidays). The last words to appear in the subtitles were “… HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK,” and then they cut to an uncaptioned ad for insurance company Colonial Penn.

Unfortunately, the closed captioning remained on the screen throughout the commercial.

So we see a worker sitting in his cubicle and talking earnestly to the camera. Then Alex Trebek comes strolling up behind him, a disturbing development in any office.

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK, continues to read the caption.

“Apply now online,” begins the ad copy superimposed across Alex’s chest. “As close as a phone call away.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

“Guaranteed acceptance. No physical exam. 30-day free look.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

“We provide affordable coverage.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

“You cannot be turned down because of your health.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

“It’s so simple. Just takes a few minutes to apply.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

“Lock in your premiums and benefits for 20 years.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

“Special situation? Add an optional rider.”

…HAVE SEX FOUR TO FIVE TIMES A WEEK

Finally, the worker appears to have had enough of Alex and his suggestive sell. The scene fades to black, with white overprint:

“For over 50 years, we have served the needs of our customers with a dedication to ‘old-fashioned’ customer service.”

By the way, in case you missed it, yesterday’s showing of “The Doctors” included a list of ways to improve your health in five minutes or less. These include:

→ Always stand when you flush the toilet to avoid getting bacteria from the water on you.

→ Don’t wet your eye shadow with saliva.

→ Use olive oil as a moisturizer.

→ Keep birth control pills next to your toothbrush.

→ Have your baby wear sunglasses.

→ Specialty flip-flops can help tone the body.

→ Avoid wiping your eyes with your fingers. Use your shirt instead.

→ Hugs help prevent heart disease.

→ Exercise toes.

→ Put aluminum foil or pepper on your counters and tables, because cats don’t like these on their paws.

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6 Responses to “Closed captioning and Alex Trebek”

  1. morethananelectrician Says:

    Hugs also prevent gonorrhea.

  2. tom1950 Says:

    I think what really bugs me, since I am hard of hearing, is when the closed captioning lags behind by as much as 30 seconds. This, too, can cause some very funny juxtapositions between captioning and what is actually going on visually. Football games and talk shows are especially notorious for this type of thing.

    T.O.M.

  3. fakename2 Says:

    I’m thinking that in terms of healthy living, I’m way behind.

  4. S Fox Says:

    I wish someone would close-caption my life. Phillip’s typing … Phillip’s reading … Phillip’s watching a DVD … Philip’s typing. It would really help the aliens who watch me keep up with events.

  5. Leatrice Weisdorfer Says:

    Thanks for posting, I very much enjoyed your newest post. I think you should post more often, you obviously have talent for blogging!

  6. fakename2 Says:

    What? Daily is not enough for Leatrice? And I thought 4-5 times per week was the standard.

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