I spent a great deal of time arguing with Paramount Plus over their audio description for their imported Showtime content. It’s something that I’ve been fighting with them over since the integration. You may not know that Showtime has made more of a commitment super recently to audio describing its shows, which means a lot of recent shows have audio description. Yellowjackets, Dexter New Blood, First Ladies, and The Man Who Fell To Earth among them. However, despite multiple phone calls, and being told that Paramount Plus values me, and they are working on a solution, I have been ignored for two months. in fact, when Paramount Plus started emailing me to let me know they were working on this, I got standard replies from Tier 2 Associates (one of whom loves Strange New Worlds, the other loves The Challenge) and they are both supposedly working to resolve this issue. yet, despite my last email with a representative being a week ago today, with that still “we thank you for your patience” nonsense, I received an email on Tuesday saying that they hadn’t heard from me in a while, so they were closing my case. And that was not the first time they’ve attempted to do that (it’s one of the reasons I have multiple agents working on this).
So my phone calls with paramount Plus yesterday were not great. I’m personally not proud of the first call, because I went a little hard on someone who would not escalate me so i could yell at someone at an appropriate level about this continued level of disrespect. I kind of feel bad for the individual treatment, but I also realize that the larger corporation for which she works continues on a daily basis to try and shove my concern under the rug and ignore me, and would not apologize to me for doing so. The second tech, I took a breath, went through it, and she was more open to escalation. I was supposed to get a call back from someone above her within 24 hours. That time is up 5 hours from now. We shall see.
But right now, Paramount Plus is pretending to support the blind and visually impaired community, but still treating us like an afterthought. To be honest, this kind of treatment isn’t the first, nor is it the last.
This kind of behavior is why we watch series with missing audio description tracks, because either a network or a streamer does not commit to audio describing every episode. It’s why streaming services get away with adding audio description to shows long after their debuts, like Hulu did to Reservation Dogs, because the blind and visually impaired community doesn’t deserve to watch this content at the time of release like others. It’s why Season 1 of Grimm is not described on Amazon. Like anyone is going to start a series at Season 2. Amazon gets to pretend they have equality, and a title that adds to the total amount of described content. But not really.
I often wonder if the sighted individuals making these decisions on our part are aware of what it says to their consumers. They have home lives. They watch TV. What if I just started taking things away from them? Sorry, Season 1 of this show isn’t available. You’re going to have to start at Season 2. or, we’re not providing you with all the episodes in a season, I hope you can follow the linear progression by sporadically watching the show.
maybe, we should talk about censorship. in many ways, someone else is making a choice as to what titles receive audio description and which do not. So, someone is already pre-filtering our choices, and limiting the selections. it’s something they don’t think about either, likely because no one ever thinks they will be blind or lose their eyesight and need the very services that they claim to be working so hard to provide to us.
If you support and build accessibility before you need it, then the audio description is already there. It’s built in. So when people start losing their vision, they feel less like an ostracized person in society, who has to completely change the way they live, but instead they start to see all the ways people before them worked to make the transition as easy as possible, for something that is quite traumatic for many.
I’ve heard so many stories of people going through their loss, and the lack of support they feel. I know people who have totally given up on TV, because they feel like, just like video games, comic books, art, dance, and other mediums, that it’s not for them. They’re wrong. All of those things can be for us, as all have proven in at least a few places that accessibility can happen.
But when a website like The Audio description Project (which is an amazin resource) highlights the totality of audio description, you start to realize what a small percentage of the total content on any given service is described. Free Vee has 73 titles. Just 73. That’s insane. I suppose it’s better than Tubi, which pretends blind people don’t exist.
So while Paramount Plus claims to want to play with the majors, it’s nowhere near the level of streamers like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, whose lists run into the thousands, and provide tens of thousands of audio described content. Even with those services, we find that our content is just a fraction of the total made available to sighted individuals who pay the same money wee pay for a subscription.
So, I’m not backing down, Paramount Plus. It’s too important. You can’t ignore me.
This post is in lieu of my normal Roundup, but special shout outs to Andor, The Good Doctor, Never Have I ever, The Rookie, and LaBrea, the five shows I watched yesterday. Except, only 4 of those had audio description. Either through ignorance, apathy, or laziness, this weeks episode of The Rookie does not have audio description on hulu.
This is my life. It might be yours one day. It’s time to give a damn.
One thought on “The Too Much TV Roundup- October 26th”
I can’t imagine how incredibly frustrating this all must be. A couple of years ago I had two retinal reattachment surgeries on the same eye within three months of each other and received a sudden appreciation for how eyesight can be taken for granted. I don’t take it for granted anymore.