Who Actually Loses In The Subs Vs. Dubs Debate
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Netflix’s divisive Cowboy Bebop live-action remake has, naturally, helped reignite interest in the original anime—aided by Netflix’s purchase of the original series. And as with anything anime, the argument about “subs” (original language with subtitles) versus “dubs” (new voice actors recording lines in the viewer’s own language) has also been reignited like a phoenix with a waifu pillow.
Some believe watching cyborgs rip people’s spinal cords out with subs is more “authentic” to the original vision and therefore preferable, while others argue dubs make spinal ripping more accessible and digestible. In that context, both sides are right, both sides are wrong. It ultimately doesn’t matter because the point is both are an option. What sucks is when there is no choice.
If a foreign-language movie comes to a market that isn’t immediately, obviously interested in it, then it won’t get a dub because dubbing often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why Pixar movies sometimes get dubbed in up to freaking 40 languages. Kids everywhere love those things—it’s a sure bet. But there’s no way even an incredible Danish film starring a well-known actor like Mads Mikkelsen will even be considered. Hell, even Parasite never got an English dub. That movie was considered the best movie one year! In the world! In America's, localized opinion!
My frustration isn’t that I want Mads Mikkelsen voiced by Matt Damon, it’s that if a movie ISN’T dubbed, nobody is going to watch it. On surveys, nerds will claim they prefer subtitled content while they sip wine and invest heavily in both stocks and bonds, but according to Neflix’s internal data, “y’all lying.”
I don’t want to sound like an elitist art-house cinema snob who literally spits on children because they prefer watching Spider-Man 11 to Mads Mikkelsen Beats Grown Men To Death In Denmark, but every once in awhile an incredible film releases and influences American movies in profound ways, but many of us won’t see the thing unless it gets insanely lucky—like Parasite. I’m not saying Riders of Justice is changing Hollywood as we know it. I am saying a movie we’ll discuss in a couple weeks did. But you're probably not aware of it because the dub SUCKS.
So who loses? You do. Also, Mads Mikkelsen. And you don't want to get on his bad side.
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