Last Saturday, I went to see “
My thoughts on this are that as “disabled” deaf people we should have been given priority seating. In fact there is “disabled” seating in the middle of the theater that people were using at the time. None of them had canes, casts or wheelchairs with them. I wonder if they would have been asked to move if we were in wheelchairs? I’ll never know.
I have to say I actually feel a lot of anger toward the entire movie industry and Hollywood ever since they fought the ADA back in the 1980s. I feel discriminated against. They are required to post Braille for the blind on their elevators and bathrooms. They are required to have wheelchair ramps for those who have difficulties walking, but captions are optional. Consequently, I don’t have Equal Access the way other disabled people do — and I’m pissed off about it. I can’t go to a movie with my family unless it is captioned in some way. Movies in my area rarely are.
SO– because the Cinerama offers captions out of the goodness of their hearts, I didn’t complain. We got our money back and decided to return earlier the next evening. The manager was even kind enough to refund the money spent on coffee and popcorn. Unfortunately, the $10.00 for parking and $4.00 for gas wasn’t refunded, not to mention the wasted time driving there.
Sunday night we arrived early and were among the very first in the theater. I quickly grabbed a manager for the RWC windshields while Loraine rushed into the theater to choose our seats. Our location was perfect. She found a spot smack dab in the center, right behind the wheelchair seating.
Next, we set up our viewing panels. You have to tilt them at just the right angle for the words to reflect. It had been a loooong time since I’ve used this contraption. The first and only other time was for the original Harry Potter movie back in 2002 or 2003 maybe. That time, the theater failed to show the captioned version that they advertised. Hubby and I had to come back the next evening then too.
The words were up in the right hand corner this time. I remembered them being in the lower left last time. I think where you sit in the theater must determine where the words show up on your panel. Or maybe things have changed since then. I was glad we had left on Saturday as I wondered where the words would have shown up if we had been sitting right down in front.
Loraine and I discussed the fact that the words seemed to be in a strange spot for captioning and she suggested we might want to move to the “Disabled” seats with the wheelchairs on them. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, as I felt those should be saved for people who have trouble walking. Then, I watched in irritation as several able-bodied people plunked themselves down in the seats with blue wheelchair signs on them. They weren’t Deaf either, since they weren’t carrying the panels.
Anyway, I was pleased they had words up on the screen BEFORE the movie started so you could adjust everything. Then the new movie clips came on and of course none of those were captioned, as they never are. Consequently I have no idea if I want to see those movies or not. I could hear people laughing. This went on for a good fifteen minutes.
Finally the movie came on. I realized just exactly how important it was to adjust the windshield so the entire movie screen could be viewed within. At this point I was sure it wouldn’t have worked well had we been seated right down in front if we had stayed Saturday night. I wondered if any of the theater employees had ever tried the RWC panels out. If the manager had, he would have known how futile it would been for us sit in the front row.
I have to say when it first came out, I was thrilled with the concept of RWC. After all, the Cinerama was the first theater in Seattle to offer captioning in any form. I had hoped theaters everywhere would pick up on it. But they didn’t. And now I’m glad.
I don’t like RWC compared to the Open Captioned showings at my local theater. Though they only offer their OC showings at odd hours, I much prefer viewing the screen without having to sit in a certain position for two hours and moving a panel around until it reflects the words just right.
Secondly I don‘t like the way RWC fits into the cup holder. It’s in the way if you need to get up to the bathroom, and you have no place to put your drink because the RWC shield has to go in that spot. I also don’t like how dark the shield makes the screen. It’s gray, so looking through the screen is almost like watching a movie with sunglasses. The scenery wasn’t especially pretty in “Indiana Jones“, but I wondered how I would have liked watching other movies with spectacular scenic views through the panel. A few times I peeked over it to catch a glimpse of the scenery, and was struck by the
Another thing, every time I moved or changed positions I would have to readjust the panel. I ended up trying to sit as still as possible and left the theater with a stiff neck from sitting in the same position for so long. Finally, because of the forty-five degree angle I had to place the screen in order to see the words, the words themselves ended up a little blurry and small. All of this combined led to a less than thrilling theater experience.
The only advantage I can see for the RWC is that the Cinerama offers it for ALL its movie times, not just the off times like with their Open Captions. For example, I just checked the listings. The local Loews offers Indiana Jones next Saturday at 10:40am and 11:00 pm next weekend. Because I work every other weekend, I wouldn’t be able to attend either showing. It was nice to be able to see a movie at 7:45, rather than having to wait until 11pm.
The second thing I don’t like about Open Captions is no matter what colors they choose for the captions there are times the words are hard to see. If they’re printed in a dark color they don’t show up well against a dark background. The same holds true for light colored captions on a light background.
I hate to sound like such a whiner. Again, I am grateful that both theaters and a few others around the area offer any kind of captioning at all, because most theaters don’t. But I can’t pretend we have equal access at these theaters when the Open Captioned theaters only show their movies at selected off-peak times, and the RWCtheater doesn’t give us priority seating so we can make the best use of the equipment. Additionally when you look at the many drawbacks of RWC, it’s clear to me that Open Captions are preferable.
Ideally, every movie theater showing should be required to have Open Captions, and the captions themselves should be placed on a strip below the movie, not against the background. If they captioned this way, instead of right over the background, I’m sure most hearing people wouldn’t mind it either.