Forcing movie theaters to install technology for the blind.
It’s like we’re living in a Jonathan Swift or Kurt Vonnegut story all these years. And there isn’t even a hope of escape until 2016. All can we do is follow the old Soviet dissident model and mock the insanity of the lunatics running the asylum.
The Obama administration is nearing completion of a proposal to require that movie theaters offer technology so blind and deaf people can go to the cinema.
Disability associations say that the new regulation will make sure that blind and deaf people can appreciate the latest blockbuster just like everyone else.
But theater owners worry that a federal mandate will force small, rural and struggling theaters to close given the costs associated with the rule.
The upcoming proposal from the Justice Department is expected to require that a certain percentage of the more than 40,000 movie screens across the country offer headsets that provide a running commentary of visual action for the blind, glasses that display closed captioning for the deaf or other devices to explain what’s happening onscreen.
“All of this sort of comes down to choice for us,” said Eric Bridges, the director of external relations and policy at the American Council of the Blind. “We would like to have a choice in the movies that we go see that are video-described.”
In March he released a bill calling for all theaters with two or more screens to provide the services for all movies at all showings. At the time, he said that requiring the technology would “allow these Americans with disabilities to have the same access as everyone else.”
What is the actual legal basis for this insanity? Equal access isn’t an issue. This isn’t even disability accommodation. The same insane logic should demand that all bookstores stock Braille books and that zoos have a running commentary describing the elephants.
There is no right to have a movie theater accommodate customers who can’t experience a movie. It’s senseless. We’ve gone from equal access mandating that lunch counters have to serve everyone regardless of race to equal access mandating that movie theaters accommodate those who can’t see.
But watching theaters close across (red-state) America is, of course, a miniscule price to pay for regulating all Americans — requiring technology that will flash bright closed-caption LEDs in other patrons’ eyes and loudly narrate all the ongoing visuals, minute by minute.
Heck, it’s bad enough having to listen to the cell-phone conversation of some ninny two rows up, having a loud argument with his girlfriend about leaving the seat up in the “reading room.” In the immediate future, we’ll also have to listen to several sonic devices for the blind bellowing out, “Frank enters the room! He sees Manya! He throws a peanut-butter sandwich at her head!”
If we’re going full Kurt Vonnegut here, let’s stop pussyfooting around Instead of trying to make the blind see, why not just blind everyone?
The Justice Department can mandate that all movies be blank and be based entirely on descriptions. Not spoken descriptions because the deaf can’t hear. But not written ones because the blind can’t see. Maybe they’ll be descriptions you have to imagine for yourself while looking at a blank screen. And paying 20 bucks for the privilege.