Thursday, February 22, 2007

What's Up, Tiger Lily?


The Italian government collapsed yesterday, but I want to talk some more about public transportation in Naples.

In the metro (the newer one, I can't remember if it's A or B) and in the funicolare (at least the Vomero stop of the Centrale), there are TV screens that offer some news and lots of advertising. This is not so very odd; American airports blast CNN at every gate, ruining my attempt to meditate in the lotus position sandwiched between sunburned Wisconsinites in Green Bay Packer caps and pinstripe-suited businessmen with bluetooths (blueteeth?) sticking out of their ears and laptops balancing on their knees; Neapolitan restaurants often have Isola dei Famosi or Grande Fratello or Napoli vs. Avellino blaring over the gnocchi. What is odd, however, are the newscasters on the metro/funicolare screens. They are not human. They are holograms or cyberborgs or something. What I mean is that they are computer-generated. They are dressed like newscasters, down to the poofy hair on the ladyborg, their mouths move, they look into your eyes. But they are not people. It is so creepy!

I was entertaining myself the other day by coming up with reasons why this should be so.

1. The newscastermonsters' mouths do not sync up with the words they are "saying." I think this soothes Italian TV-watchers because they are so used to watching dubbed films, dubbed sitcoms, dubbed Columbo. Italians are very proud of their dubbing actors (and stunned and appalled when they hear De Niro's, Hoffman's, Pacino's, Stallone's real voices...especially since one actor covers multiple American actors' voices (all four of the above by Ferruccio Amendola)...you mean Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Denzel Washington don't all sound exactly alike?). But their voiceover technicians often leave something to be desired. Mouths and words don't always sync up, so when they do, as in when an Italian anchorman speaks in his own language, it must be unsettling for the viewership.

2. Italian newscasters cannot memorize the news. They actually read the sheets of paper that lay in front of them on their desks instead of just authoritatively shuffling them around like Katie Couric might. These mutant newsslingers can relate current events while holding the viewer's eye contact and without batting an eye.

3. The alien newscasters don't get paid and don't go on strike.

That's all I came up with.

The dubbed movie situation in Naples traumatizes me. I cannot watch anything dubbed, so that means no movies for me unless they are Italian. There is one theater in Naples that shows original language films, but only on Tuesdays and not every Tuesday. This is a sorry state of affairs for a film buff such as myself.

But not as sorry a state as St. Petersburg, Russia (what is with me always being in cities that have namesakes in Florida?) circa 1992. I was there for the summer on a Russian language intensive program. My fellow students and I went to see "Ghost" at a Russian movie theater. The film was, of course, dubbed...BY ONE MALE VOICE. Whoopi, Patrick, Demi, everyone sounded like Krushchev. And you could just barely hear the English underneath, so when Whoopi said to Swayze, "You're all right!" in her sassy and, in this case, African-Americanly-inflected voice, the booming Russian male voice said, "Molodetz," which Russian textbooks translate as "Attaboy!" You say "molodetz" to your 5-year-old or your puppy, not to Demi's ex-ballerino phantom husband!

I will admit to watching some American movies dubbed in Italian, but only on TV and only ones I've already seen like Grease, School of Rock, Dirty Dancing. The dumber the movie, the easier it is to watch dubbed.

The Husband only knows me in Italian. I suppose he only knows me dubbed. I wonder when I'm speaking in Italian if it looks like my mouth is moving out of sync with my words. It's certainly moving out of sync with my thoughts. This may be too profound of an idea to follow through with tonight...yeah, it is...time for some gelato.

3 comments:

franca said...

My husband, who is Pugliese, is always horrified when he hears an American actors' real voice. He always says that they sound better in Italian.

Needless to say, he misses Italian tv and everything else...and has been having a hard time adjusting to life in NJ. :(

Ambra Celeste said...

Ha! I was in a foul mood. Then I read this post and started snickering then laughing. Thanks!

Delina said...

I think it might be time for you to get Sky tv.....