Thanks to the language app Preply, we’ve just learned that younger generations overwhelmingly prefer to stream their shows with the subtitles on—with 70% of “Gen Z” respondents claiming they use subtitles most of the time, compared to just 35% of “Baby Boomers”. Maybe mum and dad just can’t find the right button to use…
But just why are subtitles so necessary these days? Obviously the rise of access to subtitles via streaming services is one reason, and “audio is muddled” was the primary answer for 72% of surveyed Americans. Coming in second was the response that an actor’s “accent is hard to understand”, leading to an obvious and fascinating follow-up question: well, which actors are talking about?
The data from Preply is pretty interesting to read on its own, but we’ll reveal the big points here, namely that Venom and The Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy has been crowned the King of Mumbling. Over a thousand survey-takers votes were tallied to rank Hardy at the hardest-to-understand celebrity, with the Birmingham-set show in which he appears, Peaky Blinders, also topping the list of hardest-to-understand TV.
From his bizarre pronunciation of the word “pelts” in The Revenant to any of the myriad accents he has a crack at in the compilation video below, Hardy is always compelling to watch, but sometimes tricky to comprehend.
It should be noted that perhaps because the survey was US-based, most of the “hardest-to-understand” actors and films are from everywhere else in the world, except for Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt (number 5 and 12 respectively), and number 7 shoo-in Ozzy Osbourne. 50% of voters said Scottish was the trickiest accent to glean (Sean Connery’s fourth and James McAvoy is tenth), with British, Irish, South African, Australian, and American South following behind.
Some of the chosen stars seem a tad unfair, like Sofia Vergara, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan, for whom English isn’t their first language. International hits like Squid Game, Money Heist, and Narcos strangely ranked high in the TV list, which doesn’t make a heap of sense since these respondents are presumably watching the shows primarily on Netflix with dubbed dialogue or subtitles in the first place.
Obviously, these voters haven’t been turned off watching any Hardy roles. Nor do they stop tuning into Derry Girls, Game of Thrones, or Outlander (numbers two three and four in hard-to-understand TV). How much of the blame just lies in poor sound mixing? Hardy was, after all, in a bunch of Christopher Nolan movies, and those tend to be an aural whorl of explosions and ambient Hans Zimmer sound anyways. Let the dude mumble, we say!