On Podcasts and Accessibility

Podcasts, vlogs, and streaming create a body of work I often have no real access to. PewDiePie produces stuff I’m told is funny and witty and charming. But I don’t really care about it because I can’t understand the commentary and comedy. John Gruber of Daring Fireball has had apparently fascinating conversations and interviews with Apple figures and other tech figures. For me, they’re meaningless except for what someone later writes as commentary on the discussions. Welcome to Night Vale is a great work of fiction. Serial is a fascinating work of investigation. I’ve never listened to them. These are just examples. All very cool, impressive stuff, often demanding a lot of work and craft and care.

The vast majority of it is inaccessible to me because I am hard of hearing.

I am bothered that a number of productions with sponsorships and real income and advertising dollars backing them don’t try at all. I am bothered that people do these things without seeming to consider what they’re locking away in the format or the audiences they’re excluding by making these choices. Sometimes it’s obvious they’re aware there is demand for accessibility options1, but have deliberately chosen not to provide transcripts or have determined YouTube’s auto-generated captions are “good enough”. They know these choices are inferior. Sometimes it’s clear they just haven’t considered accessibility concerns, and probably won’t ever get past just dismissing them. But they have the resources to provide better access and they’re choosing not to provide access.

I’m somewhat less bothered by fanwork stuff, because transcriptioning and captioning and other accessibility services are are not free2. And many of these fan things lack for financial resources to draw on. Sometimes it is important, in itself, for the thing to exist, even if it isn’t perfect or available to all. But they should consider what they’re locking behind that accessibility gap.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t do podcasts or vlogs or streams. I’m not saying they must must provide accessibility (although I’d certainly like it if accessibility were provided). But there are explicit and implicit choices involved. And people working in these mediums should consider the choices they’re making.

  1. For example, Welcome to Night Vale has a faq entry about transcripts making it clear they’re aware there’s demand, but they have no intention of satisfying it themselves. 
  2. Google shows rates ranging from $1.00 per minute and up depending on the service and type of material being transcribed and desired quality of the transcripts. 

The Scarlet Gospels

Clive Barker’s long awaited book, The Scarlet Gospels, is finally in the hands of fans.

Focused on Pinhead, of Hellraiser1 fame, and Harry D’Amour, a private detective in several of Barker’s works, it was eagerly awaited. Barker would revisit and expand the mythos and reveal what was merely suggested in prior works. The story sets Pinhead in motion, with Harry D’Amour and allies seeking to oppose and witness what occurs.

It’s a disappointment. It isn’t a bad book, but it isn’t up to the standards of previous work from the author. And after years of hints and anticipation, it’s a much smaller book than expected. Teased at 243,000 words in manuscript form by the author, the final published form is significantly shorter. It feels as if a much longer work simply had large sections lopped off, leaving snippets of details unexplained. It’s unpolished compared to much of Barker’s work, and seems intended to set up a series rather than designed to tell the tale and wrap up questions.

It was not bad. It was not great. I just expected more.


  1. With the story focusing on the canon details of Hellraiser and Pinhead as written in Clive Barker’s work, rather than the extended movie franchise. 


Watched Tammy.

The plot follows the titular Tammy, played by Melissa McCarthy, as she screws up, decides to take a trip with her grandma, Susan Sarandon, and grows up a little. Nothing especially new, but a reasonable premise that has resulted in some pretty solid movies over the years. But there has to be a reason to follow along beyond “what will the idiot do now?” and absent Chris Farley’s sweetness and likability or something similar, it’s not very good.

Weird movie. Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon lack some essential chemistry, everything feels like Tommy Boy meets Joe Dirt with an added dose of meanness. There’s some genuinely funny bits, but almost every moment of the movie is cruel.

Can’t recommend this movie to anyone. It’s not even bad enough to watch for how bad it is.


47 Ronin

Watched 47 Ronin on Tuesday.

I really enjoyed it. No, it wasn’t historically accurate. Yes, it plopped a white dude in the middle of a quintessentially Japanese story1. Yes, it added a romance subplot. Yes, it added magic and fantastic elements. It was still fun.

The movie is problematic from a cultural appropriation and erasure standpoint. It fails to get major and minor details about Japanese life, society, language, or customs right. It warps a story about duty and honor into a love story. How much of those details are capable of being meaningfully conveyed to an audience without a pre-existing background in Japanese folklore, culture, and history is debatable.

For all of that, it was a rip-roaring fun movie. I do wonder how much the director’s2 intended cut would work and how different it would be from the current final product. Keanu Reeves was solid, nothing special, but not a drag upon the movie either. This is less an attempt at a historical epic, than someone using the bare frame of the historic event to create a fantasy film.

Highly recommended.


  1. See this wikipedia article for more background. 
  2. Carl Rinsch reportedly intended for Keanu Reeves to be less central to the movie.