Video Dubbing Manifesto

The video genre known as “video dubbing,” or dubbing for short, has a rather short history, and thus is still in its early developmental stages, but has potential to be an influential medium for commentary and criticism while also providing a humorous look on many often overly dramatic aspects of life. Dubbing, also known as rerecording, was first used in films to fill in blank audio, or for translating purposes.  To dub video is to simply record over the original audio with new audio.  The genre of dubbing over footage for the purpose of creating something new was born from this practice of dubbing for the sake of editing.  Before the web, plenty of films were dubbed for editing purposes, and almost any film can found dubbed in another language, so the history of dubbing is vast, but the history of clip dubbing is more specific. The first online dubbed video I can find comes from the YouTube account day job orchestra, and it was uploaded in 2006.  The video is a dub of news footage with several different characters.  The creators were clearly not trying to accurately dub the video, but instead were just trying to be as vulgar as possible in an attempt to be humorous, but they were not successful in this endeavor.

I would surmise that the target audience for dubbed videos was originally young people, due to the vulgarity and lack of editing in early videos.  Young people, when browsing through online videos, are generally more likely to watch a vulgar, less-than-perfect video than an older person.  However, now that BLR has become the main provider of dubbed videos, I would say the target audience has shifted to just about anybody looking for a funny video.  BLR has upped the quality of video and really opened the genre to the general public. There are three main clip dubbers online:  Bad Lip Reading, dayjoborchestra, and jaboodydubs.  Of the three of them, BLR is the most recent on the scene, and clearly the most creative and original of the three.  As well, BLR has the best quality video and audio, and it is clear the BLR puts more effort and thought into their videos than djo or jd.  BLR is also still producing videos, their most recent video having been uploaded on January 15th 2013.

The most famous, and the most creative group that produces these dubbed videos is the “Bad Lip Reading” group.  This dubbing idea is extremely well executed by the BLR group.  A great example of the abilities of BLR is the video “’Herman Cain’—A BLR Soundbite,” in which Herman Cain’s campaign motto is: “Everybody needs toucan stubs.”  Lines like “McDonald’s special.  Give me a large plate.  Then I’ll sing, sing, sing about it” and “Mexican people don’t eat sugar, especially when it’s a mixture of lice and tiger DNA” seem to fit so perfectly with the video of Herman Cain and his actual words, and really allows the viewer to see that not everything is so serious, that if you look closely enough, there is humor in everything.  BLR has the freedom to choose both which clips they want to sue and they have some flexibility with what dialogue they want to sue.  In other words, they have ability to create almost any story line they want to, albeit they are restricted by what words they can use to fit with the mouths of the characters.

The genre of video dubbing has certainly evolved over the years, and I think that the future of the genre lies with Bad Lip Reading.  First and foremost, the genre began with dubbing videos for the sake of editing.  Someone somewhere, at this point not known to the world, began to use dubbing as a story telling technique, and created a genre that that I think is still in its early stages.  Some of the early videos focus on making fun of products through advertising or films that are generally “out there.” Video dubbing is genre that is still young, so no one is quite sure what exactly it is or what it can be quite yet.  Many of the early videos are vulgar and served no real purpose other than to be vulgar.  The vulgarity of the language is only considered funny because it is couple with video of an innocent topic, like the snuggie.  But, newcomers like BLR, are really pushing the boundaries of the genre.  BLR has given the genre some stability and some concreteness.

When done well, video dubbing is a strong instrument for criticism or commentary, and I think that this critical aspect offers the only real, concrete future for the genre.  Unless the genre finds some way to be seen as a medium for social commentary, I think it will die out like most fads do. The genre needs to become a way for people to express any feeling they may have about a film or product, but I do realize that the only way that a dubbed video works is if it humorous.  So, I think that dubbing can actually be useful in pointing out the often over-dramatic nature of certain genres of film, and the often over-dramatic persona of society in general.  It is important to laugh at ourselves every once in a while and realize that everything is not so serious.  Video dubbing offers society an opportunity to step back and take a real look at itself, and realize that there is humor to be found in most things.