Categorized | Daily Life

Spanish TV is Painful.

Posted on 03 April 2011 by American expat!


Since I’m on a “Complain about Spain” streak, let me complain about television over here. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I do try to use it to enhance my listening skills and vocabulary. But there are three things I absolutely cannot stand about Spanish television that inevitably will make me turn it off after a few channel rotations:

1. Dubbing television shows and movies here is standard. Now, I cannot stand dubbing in the first place. Give me sub titles any day or make me try to figure out the story on my own by looking at the images.

But the problem is not the dubbing in itself. It is that there are two people (one man, one woman) who do all the language dubbing for programs bought from foreign (American) markets. I am so sick of hearing their voices I want to scream. And not only because they are overused voice “actors” and rarely fit the character on the program. And also not because I know that Brad Pitt does not sound like a 50 year old radio announcer.

It’s because they aren’t actors at all. I swear they don’t even try. They sound like two people reading a bedtime story to some kid, altering their voices to portray different characters and doing a shitty, lazy job of it. Imagine whiny, cranky sounding whimpering when someone on Law and Order is weeping over someone’s death. I’ll wait. OK, got it? It’s worse than that.

2. The music put to news stories never has anything to do with the story. Example. Today a story about a credit card scam was backed by – ready for this bit of production genius? – Huey Lewis and the News, Power of Love. I am serious, and this is not an anomaly. That dumb-ass song has the line “don’t need no credit card to ride this train”. And therefore the professional editors felt it appropriate to use this jaunty tune to enhance a story of thievery.

Another brilliant example is the use of the 1960s song “California Dreamin'” every. single. time. the state of California is mentioned. And as a location too, not the subject of a story. If you must have the word California in a song, there are around 700 other songs to choose from. Does another, more un-newsworthy song exist with the word California in it? No. And how amateur (or lazy?) is it to just use a song about California instead of the theme of the actual story? Where do these media people learn their craft?

3. Did I mention there are only 2 people working in the dubbing department for every single movie, Simpson’s episode and Sex and the City re-run? Because there are. Only two. Ridiculous.

4. Belen Esteban with her bright yellow, home hair-dye job, and her horrible, smoke ravaged, heavily made up face with it’s protruding lips and eyeballs is on the TV constantly. Girl, I have some advice for you: skip the lip collagen and plastic surgery and invest in some Botox, and maybe a facial peel or two. It may also be time to start using some sunblock. (Note: link on her name goes to a Facebook page dedicated to her “old” face, the one before she lost a lot of weight, had a bunch of plastic surgery, and evidently started smoking so much and baking in the sun. Enjoy.)

I think I’ll stick to the news for practicing my listening skills, since the irrelevant music is the least offensive of the three crimes. I’ll just crank up the volume and sing along with Huey next time one of his songs backs a story (which is often) since it’s gonna remain in my head for the next week regardless.

Or at least until California is mentioned in the news again.

9 Comments For This Post

  1. Pegmonkey Says:

    Reminds me of PR tv.. Menudo was PR boy band.. it drove me nuts when I lived in PR.. they played them ALL the time.. arghghghg. But, you gotta take the good with the bad. Apparently there’s a price to pay for living in a culture that is relaxed and accepting.. that price is slow service, and an apparent lack of effort involving adapting entertainment to foreigners.. 😉 As long as the motorcycle related job opportunities keep arriving.. I’d put up with it. 😀 Hey.. at least they have TWO people working to dub.. better than Krusty the Klown doing ALL the dubbing.. or.. wait.. maybe not. Krusty doing all the dubbing would be entertaining!! Oy Vey!

  2. American expat! Says:

    just witnessed another clueless example of using media to enhance the message. Commercial for a local property management company using that 80s favorite “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners throughout the entire commercial. Lyrics and all.

  3. Eva Says:

    Im from spain i like watch tv shows and films with subs but, i have to say i think the dubbing in spain is great, i think they are really great actors and do a good job, i dont know why do you think that they dont, maybe because in english people whispers all the time at leasts in fims and series and in the dubbing they speak like spanish people not speaking soo low, and i even didnt notice that they have the same voices in all tv not saying dubbing is the best thing, i prefer subs but sometimes im lazy and i prefer just watch tv without have to read.

  4. American expat! Says:

    People don’t whisper in the US imports, which comprise nearly all of the dubbed movies and series Spain airs on TV. The Brits are pretty mumbly but we Americans are generally on the louder/clearer side.
    If you think those two voice actors are good, lucky you, because they are everywhere and have cornered the market on voice overs and you can’t get away from them. I personally cannot tolerate the sound of their voices for one second much less watch anything they do, ever. Those dubbers sound like they are reading lines off a page while practicing for a high school play.

  5. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] Says:

    I really, really love this entry. So so so true.

  6. Attila Says:

    Not sure about your generalizations about “talking over”.

    I find American women hardly EVER let a man open his mouth – much less allow him to verbally challenge her in public. It seems the American women feel they need to control or gather attention in every circumstance. If I have to talk over someone here- it’s because I can’t get a fcking word in edgewise!

  7. Stream Says:

    I’m not from Spain, but I’m a native Spanish speaker and I can say I don’t like their dubbing, it’s really annoying, especially a voice I heard in several dubs, I heard better voices in documentaries, even you can’t notice their accent, it sounds neutral which is great. There was a time when Spaniards used to watch the same dub versions from Latin America (which those had a neutral accent, now some dubs in Latin America, especially those made in Mexico, have started to use slang and inner jokes, sadly), then someone decided, it was better to make their own dubs for Spain.

    I don’t like U.S. dubs for non-English language films either, they don’t act and transmit emotions with their voices, they sound like they’re reading a contract too. In the end, I don’t know what’s worst, Voice-over translation, which is preferred in Russia, or dubs like those ones in Spain. I like original versions all the time, I can watch dubs if they’re good, though I casually watch them when they’re being broadcast on television, if I’m getting the film, then I want the original audio.

  8. Jorge Says:

    I´m not really sure if you really believe that thing about having only two voice actors or you are just joking because if you are serious I really think you must have a hearing problem. In Spain we have literally hundreds of voice actors to dub movies. Almost every original actor has its own corresponding voice actor, so what you say it´s essentially impossible.

  9. American expat! Says:

    I’m not joking. And my hearing is extremely sensitive (too sensitive at times). But I am talking about television, just as the title of this post indicates. About movie voice ‘actors’, I am sure you are right though I cannot confirm or deny this fact, because I would never pay money to watch a dubbed movie. I’d pay to NOT have to watch a dubbed movie, as in pay someone to go in my stead if circumstances in my life ever required me to sit through a dubbed film, not that I know what kind of circumstances those would be. A psychological experiment perhaps? On rage, maybe? Anyway, I’m talking about TV. And I hear the same two voices–one male, one female–in every single show or commercial I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to witness. They sound old and they sound like smokers and they are fucking horrible ‘actors’.

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