Where I Watched It: Hulu
English Audio Description?: No
It is a lot easier for me to get a YouTube review out quickly than to put my thoughts in an actual standard review, which is why this review has evolved a bit since I first saw and reviewed My Year of Dicks. The Oscar nominated short is still lacking audio description on hulu, which wouldn’t surprise any of us blind regulars. If there was one service most likely to not care enough to provide audio description unless explicitly required to do so, it’s Hulu.
But, something very interesting happened. I posted my review, which reflected somewhat poorly on the film as it was hard to follow and understand due to the lack of audio description, and I was contacted by an individual associated with the production. Even though my review of a film without accessibility was my typical somewhat scathing approach to things presented to me with the idea that accessibility doesn’t matter or isn’t important, I had excellent dialogue with the individual associated with the film. Not the first time I’ve necessarily had contact with a filmmaker, but certainly not about how to rectify the lack of accessibility.
At first, they were willing to do what I would call “homegrown” audio description, which is what really anyone could do from home with a mic and simple recording equipment. It ended up being a bit more like directors commentary, in so much that a commentary track talks during the whole film, without regard to what is happening on screen. most people don’t go in the first time to watch a film with the commentary track on. While this person made the attempt to describe to me what was visually happening, it missed the boat on where the audio description fits in without trampling over built in narration or dialogue, something that those who work in the audio description community have structures of writers and quality control to make sure doesn’t happen. But most importantly, this was made for me. Just me. Which, while incredibly flattering and cool, is not accessibility. Because, I can’t review something that way, and tell you guys as my readers that this film is accessible, when it is not for you. you didn’t get the specially made audio file.
What I can say, is that with what I know, having seen the film, and then having this homegrown track, that if this film had real audio description, I’m 100% positive my grade would trend upward. I’m not sure how far, but upward for sure. And there’s a chance that this project might acquire audio description. In my dealings and adventures with this project, a producer working with an AD house reached out to me because they wanted to do the audio description for this film, and I was able to connect that team with the person who reached out from My Year Of Dicks. So, there’s a chance here that this title may be accessible in the future.
It currently is not, but if it becomes accessible, I will re-review this title. It would be a huge moment really for our community, that someone actually involved with a film heard the cries of someone from a disenfranchised population and actually sought to rectify that which made those individuals disenfranchised. For the first time in my journey of trying to advocate for audio description, this is the first time someone from the film has actually heard what I’ve had to say, and wants to fix it. Even if they find it insurmountable to do so, and it never gets done, it started a conversation. And quite frankly, we need a lot more of those.
Hollywood and its filmmakers need to hear and listen more to the voices from disabled communities about their accessibility, as it’s a very ableist approach to assume that we’ve all given up on television and film because we can’t see it, or that our money at the box office is no good. It’s even worse to assume that the product yu make can be enjoyed and understood without audio description. yes, it’s a sliding scale. It ranges from the aggressively unwatchable Skinamarink (review on that coming soon) to something like Argentina 1985, where the film is constantly explaining itself through dialogue, almost like the characters are providing some form of internal narration. But, even in the best of cases, there are always things missed, and things not understood.
So, I thank the team of My Year Of Dicks for taking the time to dialogue with me over the possibility of audio description. i hope something materializes. As it stands now, i was missing a lot on that first viewing, something the homegrown audio track made even more clear. I’ve definitely been far more confused, but at the same time, I didn’t feel what made this special on the first viewing, without any type of audio description. And that’s how anyone would be watching this on hulu.
Just two years ago, Netflix released the incredible and emotional If Anything Happens I Love You, which was so perfect, so effective, and so evocative through it’s accompanied audio description that it became easy to recommend that film and cheer it on. This year, there’s nothing like that from what I can tell. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse is a good short film for kids, but it certainly isn’t game changing. I have a feeling, My Year Of Dicks is a little less traditional, so I eagerly wait a version that is accessible to my whole blind community.
For now, Final Grade: C