Day 2: Clueless

Day two of the Literary Calendar for January 2021 is the film Clueless. I downloaded it from Sky Cinema although I notice it has also been broadcast this week (the original article suggests watching it on youtube). I have some practical difficulties with watching things that don’t turn up routinely on the freesat channels or on Sky. Firstly, like many of us I imagine, I have crappy broadband. Dear Boris: if you really want to “level up” the country and move all government transactions to “digital first” then spend some money on infrastructure. Pull your finger out and get everybody decent fibre broadband (preferably free of charge, too).

Secondly, as I get older my hearing gets worse. I am hard of hearing rather than actually deaf (I went from “you’re deaf enough to benefit from hearing aids but not deaf enough that the NHS will give them to you” to “you’re deaf enough to benefit from two hearing aids but the NHS will only provide you with one. Which ear would you like?” not long ago.)

I need subtitles. I rely on subtitles. Also, I am a Better Regulation specialist and I can bore for England on the subject of regulation and how the mandation of 100% subtitling is a classic case for regulation (because the marginal cost of providing subtitles is negligible but as it is never going to be profitable to provide them – the number of people who would pay for them probably isn’t enough to cover the costs of subtitling – you level the playing field by requiring ALL broadcasters to subtitle ALL their programmes. This would produce a market for selling programmes on WITH their subtitle file rather than making each broadcaster decide whether or not to subtitle them again… I told you I could bore for England.)


Thirdly, I’m old. I mean, old enough to have seen this film several times before. Which was lucky, as the subtitles on the Sky download were just awful. I mean, they were legible and largely accurate. They were just… mean. And I don’t mean ill-tempered, just thin. Scant. You would see someone speaking and then the subtitles would record a paragraph of speech as “oh yeah!”

I could get the gist, but what is the point of just getting the gist of Clueless? Jane Austen’s Emma is, as any fule kno, the “gist” of Clueless. It’s a very clever movie, in the sense of how cleverly they transpose the Austen characters and relationships into contemporary society. But it didn’t say anything new to me today.

  • Novelty: none
  • Content: 7. I think on the whole I’d rather go and read Emma again.
  • Performance: 8 – oooh look it’s Ant Man! Would probably have been a 9 if the subtitles had been better.
  • Soul: still in need of a snack