Subtitles Gone Bad: What We Can Learn From Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’
Netflix’s new hit series, Squid Game, takes 456 desperate players in financial despair to compete in children’s games for a life-changing $45.6 billion prize – but those games quickly turn deadly. The show has become an instant hit, holding the Number 1 spot in Netflix’s Top 10 for two weeks running. But the show has recently faced strong criticism as well. Some Korean viewers believe inaccurate subtitles have changed the meaning of some of the dialog, while other caption errors have “botched” Korean cultural references entirely.
This has sparked a social media frenzy – and prompted a much larger conversation: what happens to a business or a brand when subtitles, captions, or text communicate the wrong message to their audience?
Whether you’re translating a conversation, point of view, product offering, or mission statement to a global audience, it’s crucial to communicate universally – and accurately – for everyone across the board.
What’s the Difference Between Closed Captions and Subtitles?
If you have ever watched a non-English language film, then you’re familiar with subtitles. Subtitles translate video dialogue so that viewers can understand what’s being said in their native language. Captions are designed as another speech-to-text tool so that anyone can understand what’s being said, whether they are hard of hearing or unable to watch a video with the sound on.
While both occur for a different reason, they are both designed so that anyone, anywhere, can receive accurate communication and information from the video.
How Wrong Did ‘Squid Game’ Get It?
Social media is buzzing with Korean-American viewers weighing in on the Squid Game inaccuracy conversation. New York-based comedian Youngmi Mayer said Netflix’s translators ruined the context of the intent of the main character.
In one clip, the character says (via subtitle):
“I’m not a genius, but I still got it worked out.” The translation is in the ballpark, but upon review from Mayer, she says the line is closer to, “I am very smart. I just never got a chance to study,” which, as Mayer explains, is a sore spot in Korean media. “It’s not just a mistranslation; it’s a lack of understanding of Korean pop culture.”
How Accurate Should Captions Be?
You must have accurate captions presented to your audience – ADA guidelines require it. Whether you are in the media and entertainment industry or a higher ed instructor, all public and educational-facing videos must be accessible with captions that are 99 percent accurate.
How Accurate Are Your Subtitles?
If your subtitles aren’t accurate, you may send mixed signals to your audience, followers, and fans. Inaccurate subtitles can change everything from the meaning of your script (as is the case with Squid Game) to the values you’re communicating to your audience. On the other hand, accurate translation breeds transparency, trust, and loyalty.
Rev Offers Accurate Subtitles and Captions
When you add accurate foreign subtitles to a video, you immediately broaden its potential reach. Foreign subtitles not only expand the audience but also boost search rankings, discoverability, and viewer engagement.
To help video producers maximize the potential of their content, Rev can add foreign subtitles to any video. Our easy-to-use subtitling service guarantees quality translations done by expert translators and fast turnaround at an affordable rate.
Our customers love how easy it is to receive accurate subtitles. We’ve translated thousands of videos and have it down to science. Plus, all our caption files are FCC and ADA compliant and meet Section 508 requirements. Choose from over 15 different languages, submit your files, and our team of professional subtitle translators are ready to get to work as soon as you submit your order. Our translation and subtitling experts are available 24/7 to accurately translate your audio into the language you need.
Get started today!