SBS movies bring the world’s cinema to our televisions screens. It has been a godsend since it started and it still is a small miracle every night and day. Films that would never be shown on commercial free-to air channels, and probably not on pay movie channels either. The pay television movie channels also have a commercial imperative to satisfy their audiences. Moreover, there is a perception of audience resistance to subtitles on television screens. I have been told this many times, though no one has ever offered any evidence to support it. Nonetheless, it is a plausible contention. And it brings me to the point of this post. (At last.)
Many, most, perhaps all, the films SBS screens terminate with an attribution of the subtitles to SBS.* Ergo I conclude SBS is responsible for these subtitles. I have no criticism of these labours, but I do have a wish. I wish the subtitlers would forego, cease and desist, and stop forever their efforts to render the subtitles into the Australian argot. No doubt this is done in the belief, mistaken, that it makes the movies more accessible to audiences. In fact, it is more often jarring to find a Chinese character sounding like Mick Dundee in the subtitles.
Moreover, this reduction of the foreign to the familiar defeats part of the purpose of world movies, which is to increase the audience’s knowledge of differences in the world. I am sure that I am not alone in wishing to know the idioms, analogies, metaphors that Finns, Thais, Bulgarians, and Turks use rather than have them all use Strine-speak à la SBS in the subtitles. We go around the world with SBS Television and everywhere we go the people sound like the local leagues club. What a dreary old world it is!
By the way I have posted this comment on SBS feedback sites more than once to no avail.
*I do not know for a fact if every film terminates with this claim, since I do not watch them all, but only some. Hence the guarded generalization above.