Open Mouth, Insert Someone Elses Words
by Mad Dog
on the other hand, dont put words in peoples mouths. Well, not unless
theyre columnists for the Boston Globe.
|| Ventriloquism may
be a lost art, but that hasnt stopped people from putting words in the mouths of
dummies. Just look at Washington, DC. Now look at it again but try not to laugh this time.
The Republicans claim President Clinton put words in
Monicas mouth. The Democrats swear Ken Starr put words in Clintons mouth.
About the only thing everyone can agree on is that Clinton managed to put both his foot
and Monicas cigar in his own mouth, neither of which sounds like a particularly
In the old days this routine would
have been considered vaudeville, or at least high comedy. Now theyre calling it
obstruction of justice. But putting words in other peoples mouths is a time-honored
tradition. Novelists, playwrights, and screenwriters do it all the time. Jay Leno, David
Letterman, and even Howard Stern have staff writers who put bon mots (French for
"moist cigar") in their mouths. And even politiciansbless their finger
pointing little heartshave speechwriters so their rehearsed remarks can sound
Journalists, on the other hand, dont
put words in peoples mouths. Well, not unless theyre columnists for the Boston
Globe. Of course they have special privileges because its easy for them to forget
that they dont work for the Globe, a weekly which, like the Weekly World News and
the National Enquirer, has never met a story it could substantiate.
Luckily the voices of the stars agreed to go back to work just as the Clinton scandal hit
the news, saving the Italians from having to watch the videotaped deposition with
subtitles like, "Shouldnt a gentleman offer a lady a Tiparillo?".
|| I cant help
but wonder if when they showed the videotape of Clintons grand jury deposition in
other countries they dubbed it, putting even different words in his mouth. After all, they
do this to movies all the time. Here in the United States foreign movies come in three
forms: dubbed, subtitled, and filmed in English because they actually want to make money.
Not so in other countries.
American movies remain in English though they translate the title to Swedish. Sort of.
Thus, the Full Monty became Allt eller inget, or All or Nothing. The Horse
Whisperer became Mannen som kunde tala med hästar, or The Man Who Could Speak to
Horses (not to be confused with a remake of Mr. Ed). And Godzilla? Whats the
difference, it bombed there just like it did everywhere else.
In Italy, on the other hand, movies and TV
shows are always dubbed. This started way back in the 1930s when Mussolini decided
he wanted the trains and the movies to both run on time. Just kidding. Actually it was
because he didnt want anyone to hear the sound of the enemys language. Well,
it worked. To this day the only English youll hear in Italy is from guys on the
street who yell, "Hey baby, wanna taste my spicy sausage?". What twits! Like
that wouldnt sound so much more romantic in Italian.
This penchant for dubbed movies became a
real problem recently when the Italian voice dubbers went on strike for two months.
Studios didnt release movies knowing the Italians wouldnt sit still for a
subtitled movie, not even if they offered them free industrial strength buckets of popcorn
with extra pesto. Luckily the voices of the stars agreed to go back to work just as the
Clinton scandal hit the news, saving the Italians from having to watch the videotaped
deposition with subtitles like, "Shouldnt a gentleman offer a lady a
The first thing the new Miss America,
Nicole Johnson of Virginia, did was come out and demand that President Clinton resign. I
could have sworn it was Pat Robertsons voice I heard coming from her mouth.
|| They also
dub movies in Poland, but like most things they do it a little differently. There they
have a man read all the lines in a droning monotone. Really. No matter how exciting,
action-packed, or romantic a scene is, he reads it as flat as a newscast. Well, excluding
current American newscasts, anyway. Woody Allen sounds the same as Arnold Schwarzenegger,
sounds the same as Jennifer Tilley, sounds the same as Mickey Mouse. And Robin Williams?
All his voices sound the same.
we should take a tip from these countries. Well, besides leaving our politicians
private lives private. Wouldnt it be much more interesting if we saw Clintons
videotaped deposition dubbed by, say, Fan Drescher? Or when we watched congressman after
congressman parading across the evening news we heard a soothing announcers voice
reading their dialogue? Or better yet, reading excerpts from The Scarlet Letter?
I suspect they may already be doing some of
this without our knowing it. The first thing the new Miss America, Nicole Johnson of
Virginia, did was come out and demand that President Clinton resign. I could have sworn it
was Pat Robertsons voice I heard coming from her mouth. Hillary Clintons been
so quiet lately its obvious Marcel Marceau has dubbed her lines. And the
mediaTV newscasters in particularhave gone and had all their lines dubbed by
1001 Yapping Dalmatians.
Next time, lets go for subtitles.
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. They're
never dubbed, but often subtitled.