of my pet peeves is the loud music and sound effects that drown
out actors dialogue in movies and on television, coupled
with the annoying tendency of todays actors to mumble, particularly
the last word of their dialogue, which is often the key to the
whole plot. I realize commercials which advertise hearing aids
usually begin with the question, Do people seem to mumble
a lot lately? Yet when I recently complained to friends
that mumbled dialogue is impossible to hear in the wake of loud
music, I found that most of them agreed with me. Based on that
evidence, I cancelled my appointment with a hearing aid specialist.
movie makers seem obsessed with background noise in the guise
of deafening music, intrusive whistles, low-flying airplanes,
or the souped-up sound of street traffic at the same time actors
are mumbling their lines. I will never forget a couple of years
ago when I had to sit through the movie Godzilla with my
granddaughter. After the first couple of minutes, I found myself
stuffing pieces of Kleenex in my ears to mute the blaring music
and sound effects, which never let up throughout the entire movie,
not even when the characters spoke. I noticed my granddaughter
covering her ears during the more dramatic moments
of the film, when music, crashing noises, and what sounded like
the beating of pots and pans became deafening.
of my favorite television series is JAG. I suppose I am
partial to it because my husband was a navy man in both World
War II and the Korean mess, when he was called back
to active duty as a member of the naval reserve. We always referred
to the latter war as that Korean mess because it messed
up our lives for a second time. But then, that is another story.
liked JAG from the beginning episode. I appreciate seeing
how far the navy has progressed since the early 1950s. I like
the characters--especially the admiral, who is tough but a teddy
bear at heart, as was my husband. I like the theme music, too.
It makes me want to cheer for the good old USA. Yet in episode
after episode, the music overrides the dialogue, which to me is
shameful, for the part I am allowed to hear is well written. The
actors not only speak clearly, but each episode is laced with
humor and human frailties. In other words, it is believable.
the producers of JAG feel that music is a better drama-builder
than dialogue, for the more dramatic the situation, the louder
the music plays to drown out what the actors say. If I were a
writer for that show, I would be thoroughly ticked off by the
way music sometimes drowns out whole conversations.
upon a time, actors and actresses were trained to enunciate their
words clearly. I have heard it said that todays movie makers
want their actors speech to be more natural sounding.
As a consequence, actors either talk so fast they run their words
together, or they mumble.
admit I am addicted to movies and favorite programs on television,
so I will go on watching them, despite the loud music and sound
effects. But I would enjoy them so much more if I could actually
hear what the actors are saying!
Bolick Perutelli is a native Tennessean,
born and reared in Memphis. She has had numerous short stories
and essays published in anthologies. Her essays have appeared
in several newspapers. Perutelli
studied English at the University of Tennessee--Memphis, and creative
writing with Southern authors Lee Smith, Jesse Hill Ford, Richard
Speight, and Connie Jordan Green at universities in Middle and
East Tennessee. Read
more of Marion Bolick Perutelli's work.
Marion Bolick Perutelli