Descriptive Noise

Descriptive Noise

Updated Nov 13, 2013 at 12:12PM EST by Don.  

Added by amanda b..

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About

Descriptive Noise refers to a line of text used to describe various noises heard in the background of a movie or television show in closed captioning mode. Screenshots of such scenes are often shared on Tumblr to point out the absurd nature of these descriptions when taken out of context, similar to YouTube Automatic Caption Fails

Origin

On June 13th, 2011, the single topic blog Descriptive Noise[1] launched with a still shot from the History Channel’s show Larry the Cable Guy (shown below). In the image, Larry and five teenagers are shown holding up frogs and smiling while the caption reads [indistinct mumbling].



Precursor

The closed captioning feature has been subject to numerous parodies prior to the emergence of the single topic blog, beginning with a photoshopping thread submitted to FARK[2] on November 7th, 2006. Fuck Yeah Subtitles[8], a Tumblr blog dedicated to humorous subtitles but not limited to those of sounds, was launched in September 2009. Additional instances of comically closed captioned photos, which may have occurred as a result of errors during real-time captioning or mistranslation from another language, have appeared on humor sites including Smosh[3], Uproxx[4], World Wide Interweb[5] and the Chive[6] between December 2011 and September 2012.



Spread

In September 2012, Buzzfeed[7] posted a series of images with descriptive sound subtitles. Within a month, the post was viewed more than 140,000 times. Additional instances appear on Tumblr with the tag “subtitles”[9], although they are mixed in with other subtitled images.

Notable Examples




[Muffled Rap Music]

On October 20th, 2012, a single topic blog titled “[Muffled Rap Music Playing in the Distance]”[10] was launched, pairing a descriptive noise caption from a scene in the first episode of Breaking Bad to a still image from the animated series Dan Vs. (shown below, left) [11] in its first post. Other Tumblr users began to place this caption on to other still images, collected on the tags “muffled rap music”[12] and “muffled rap music playing in the distance.”[13]



[Screams Internally]

The descriptive phrase “Screams Internally” has been associated with a reaction GIF taken from a scene in the first episode of television comedy Scrubs in which Zach Braff’s main character J.D.‘s boss, Doctor Kelso, asks him if he’s excited for his first night as an on-call doctor in the hospital. The camera quickly flips back to J.D. who is shown trying to keep a straight face while screaming internally. A GIF version of this moment has been circulating online since as early as December 2011.[14]



By April 2012, the phrase was further associated with a still image (shown below) from the manga Space Brothers[15] in a thread[16] on 4chan’s /a/ (Anime and Manga) forum. Outside of reaction images, “[screams internally]” has appeared as an expression of frustration on the Gamespot forums[17], other 4chan boards[18] including /sp/ (Sports)[19] and /co/ (Comics and Cartoons)[20], and on Tumblr.[21]



[Intensifies]

The caption “[Intensifies]” is often used in vibrating GIFs and Content Aware Scaling animations to denote a drastic build-up of a particular action, opinion or sentiment in progress.



[Heavy Breathing]

The caption [Heavy Breathing] is commonly associated with a photograph of a cat known as “Heavy Breathing Cat” (shown below ,left). The captions has since been used in other images in which the subject appears to be distressed or in deep thought (shown below, right)



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