Bob Stone once told bunch of us grad students how he loved to watch badly-dubbed/subtitled movies in hotel rooms, because it always seemed like the person doing the translating had no idea what the movie was about. His favorite was some movie that depicted this scene of absolute debauchery and bacchanalia -- half-naked women; men gnawing on giant shanks of mutton and drinking tankards of ale -- while the subtitle underneath read: "I can't recall when I've passed a more pleasant evening."
Whenever I see people Skype on Tha T.V., I think of that story.
I hate to be one of those people who's irritated by stuff I don't understand -- all I know is that Oprah does it all the time, and it always looks cheap and annoying (kinda like a lot of her guests). Everyone stares off into space so it makes them look slow-witted (at best), and the connection is always disastrous -- like the very early days of cellphones where everyone sounded like they were in a tunnel (a tunnel that was under an armed invasion). And the voice synching is so far off it's worse than a dubbed martial arts movie crossed with a Beyonce "live" track.
Oprah also brands it so damn heavily you'd think she has stock in it or something ("Skyping in from the set of Grumpy Old Coots is JOHN TRAAAAA.VOOOOOOO.L.TAAAA.") That's just cheap. Geez, spring for airfare already Oprah. Somebody on a computer screen or tv is not your "guest" -- if that was the case, Sam Shepard would be my frequent "guest."
I finally Skyped yesterday. I'd been resisting it. My webcam in fact has a pink post-it note pasted over it, just in case I manage to skype accidentally. But, mah BFF is spending the week in Siberia (she really is, literally, in Siberia -- that isn't an expression -- which is what we all initially thought when she told us she was going there to deliver a new media talk on Thanksgiving). The trip is the coolest thing ever, but you know, I worry and Skype, as it turns out, is a great check-in.
As with most things in real life, it's NOTHING like it is on Oprah. Sure, the connections are off, and the video's kinda grainy, but overall, it's all kinda Jetsonian. I always figured we'd be zipping around in hovercrafts by now, so if we're not gonna get that, the least we should be able to do is talk to someone in Siberia onscreen -- which is technically, THE FUTURE, cause it's like 14 hours ahead of us.
I'm hoping she'll go there again for SuperBowl and we can make a fortune when she tells me how it all turns out....From the Future.