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Come Again? Captioning All That ‘Jizz’

December 14, 2008 8:30 PM

“Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 6 presented another of the show’s edgy musical shorts (Who can forget “Dick in a Box”?) that immediately became a Web favorite—660,000 hits and counting less than a week after its debut. Veteran cast member Andy Samberg and his fellow Lonely Island members, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, debuted a rappish ode to, ummm, non-procreational and uncontrollable male emissions titled “Jizz in My Pants.” The J-word was heard many, many, many times. But hearing-impaired viewers who need closed-captioning to follow what’s happening on TV didn’t see “jizz” in the captioned lyrics; they saw “—.” Just “—” every time. Not because of any prudishness on the part of the captioners, all of whom are dedicated to replicating as closely as possible the complete TV experience. Late-night captioners have been known to follow a joke that bombed with “(smattering of applause).” According to a spokeswoman for VITAC, which captions “SNL,” the musical short was not included in the dress rehearsal, which VITAC’s captioners watch to familiarize themselves with what they may see about three hours later. When the captioners saw the musical short on the live show later that night, they could not be sure what the word was and the rule is to not guess but to indicate something was being left out. Blink is partial to “(garbled lyrics”), which is often how rappers are rendered during live performances on TV. But now that VITAC knows what the word is, it will be accurately reflected in the closed-captioning on any encore broadcasts. That’s the official word.

—Michele Greppi


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