In episode 13, amidst the hype around the Avengers: Endgame movie, I open up with personal story about how The Avengers has played a part in triggering my emotions and unleashed my deaf advocacy.
Even though everyone is able to enjoy “the best movie ever”, I cannot experience the same joy, which was difficult to accept. But it did not mean that I just wanted to sit around and accept it.
No, it triggered various actions, which includes setting up this very website.
Listen to the podcast or read the transcripts below:
This is the Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast, a place where you hear stories from the deaf and hard of hearing people, and from your host, Ahmed Khalifa.
At the time of recording, the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ has released a few weeks ago and I haven’t watched it yet.
But already when you look at your social media, people come crazy. People are going absolutely insane about it being “the best movie ever”…”I’m going to watch it again…”Oh my God”.
All these things were happening and it sounds good. So obviously I want to watch it.
The problem is that at the moment, I’m not going to watch it because I’m struggling to find the right time to watch a captioned version.
And long story short, they’re never at a good time. They’re never on at a sociable time that is available for, not just for myself, but also my friends and my wife and you know, you want to go together.
But I don’t want to talk about that particular story. I want to talk about how The Avengers triggered this kind of deaf activist/advocacy inside me.
The story of where it all began
Basically what happened is when the previous one, the Avengers: Infinity War came out in the UK back in 2018. And I was excited like a lot of people, I wanted to watch it and so my wife and I thought, “let’s go watch it”.
Now in most situation when I go to the cinema, I don’t really know what’s going on. I don’t really hear anything in terms of the storyline. I just can’t hear what people are saying and it’s even worse when it come to watching superheroes or any kind of characters where, for example, if they are wearing mask, I can’t lip read them.
And people always say, “could you lip read Spiderman?” “Well of course that’s just ridiculous.” And I’ve mentioned that in a video below:
But I thought, “you know what, I really, really wanted to watch the Infinity War”.
So I thought “let’s go watch it, and let me just enjoy it and grasp as much of a story as I can, and hopefully I’ll enjoy it.”
But then it didn’t really work out that way. And I’m kind of naive like that for every single time a movie out, and I’m really, really desperate to watch it, I just don’t end up enjoying it. But I you keep doing it again and again and again.
And this time it happened with Infinity War.
What is Thanos Saying?!
So I went in there and immediately I realised the struggle. It’s Just barely a few minutes into the movie at that time and the character ‘Thanos’ was there and I would have major, major difficulty understanding what’s he saying.
I just didn’t…I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t understand it and that made it really pointless then to watch the whole thing. But you know what, I just thought, “let’s be patient. Maybe I will gradually understand it”.
But I didn’t.
And in the, end I watched the entire thing just to admire the visual aspect, the graphics, the fight scene, the character, the moments where you get like, “wow, this is happening”. All these things.
But at the same time you want to know the story and how did you get to that situation? Why are they doing this moment, why are they fighting Thanos? What did Thanos really, really want?
I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t know what was going on and what was Thanos’ reason for doing that.
And it really didn’t take me until like maybe a year later when I watch it again on TV with subtitles and it just clicked in my head. It’s kind of like one of those light bulb moment where I’m like, “Ohhhhhhhhhhh, that’s why…”
And everything just clicked. I understood it, I got it. It just made a whole thing different and I just managed to enjoy it even more obviously at the time.
Cue emotional outburst…
But if you go back to the cinema, when I would watch Infinity Wars, it kind of triggered something inside me.
So when my wife and I were watching it and we left the cinema in the car, I was driving. And I got a bit emotional.
And I had to pull to the side of the road and I started to cry. And the reason I started to cry because I just got really, really emotionally and mentally exhausted from 1) just trying to focus so so hard to work out what is being said in that movie. Trying to understand really, really hard and you kind of use that brain power = max power.
This is the problem when you have a “concentration fatigue”, you use extra cognitive energy to kind of listen to see what’s going on. I was so exhausted that I just couldn’t cope and I just started to cry. I just got really, really emotional.
And the other reason why I felt like that it because I was just so fed up of it.
All these years and going to the cinema, I don’t know how many times, dozens, maybe hundreds of times spending thousands of pounds all these years and I’m just never going to ever to enjoy the experience of watching it like everyone else.
And I got really fed up, I got frustrated, I got angry and I just thought I just can’t do this any more.
And that was the last time I went to the cinema, and to be honest, maybe I should have done that many years before that and I’ve learned that hard way. I feel like I’ve been kind of very naive in terms of thinking, “oh, things will get better”.
But thing it didn’t get better at 1) in my hearing and 2) it didn’t get better with respect about having an option to watch films with subtitles or captions.
And that made it really difficult for me to accept. So that was another reason why I got very, very emotional.
So it was a very tough moment at that time and that kind of triggered a lot of things inside me as well as a few other life moments that happened to me in terms of making me feel more comfortable and more vocal about the topic around deaf and just being more accepting of it, that this is what it happened in my life right now.
What else did it trigger?
So that particular moment right now has really triggered it in terms of thinking “that’s it. Enough is enough. I can’t…I can’t do it anymore. I have to do something about it. I have to make changes. I have to be more vocal because if I just suffer quietly and just on a sideline, nothing will change. If anything it might get worse.”
Fast forward to today in 2019 and obviously the new Avengers came out, Endgame, and it’s so hard to watch people going crazy about it and celebrating it and saying, “I have watched the best movie ever…I’m going to watch it again”.
And it was insane in terms of how many people are tweeting about it or writing about it on Facebook and I tried to skip pass it, but you know, you catch a glimpse of it and you know what they’re saying, even if you don’t read it word-by-word.
And that was quite tough because I don’t think I’d be able to watch it in the cinema like other people and I won’t be able to at least watch it with other people at the right time with captions, because they are just never on a good time.
And it’s something that gets me frustrated a lot on also, gets me frustrated that other people don’t understand as well when they say, “oh wait, but it’s all on Sunday morning”.
But then how often do you want to go to the cinema on a Sunday morning? That doesn’t happen to a lot of people. I don’t know about you, but you don’t happen to me or anybody in my circle.
So it made it difficult for me to accept that I can’t watch it, I can’t enjoy it. And it means that I have to wait until it comes on TV, maybe a year later and then I’d be able to catch up and I’d be able to say, “oh look, I managed to watch it again and I can’t believe it took me this long run”.
By that time there’s probably already a new Avengers or a new superhero movie that is even better, possibly. And then I have to start the whole thing all over again.
And this same thing happened with Black Panther. I didn’t understand anything, and then I watch it on TV and it just clicked in my head and it was one of those moments where it’s like…light bulb in your head, just go on and “Wow! That’s what happened, now I get it”.
So it just happened all over again from right now and again, this kind of triggered the whole thing again with Endggame and everyone talking about it.
“Why don’t you want me to enjoy it like everyone else?”
And it made me think, “well I need to do something about it. Well why should I feel excluded from it? Why can’t I enjoy it like other people? Why don’t you want me to enjoy like other people?”
At times, I have thought about whether the people in charge of organising the schedules and times, do they even care about me and of course other people, but I’m trying to think for me.
Are they not really caring about me or do they want me to be there and enjoy it? It just made me feel a bit awkward in a way and thinking why are they treating me like that?
And it was very hard at that time last year when Infinity War came out and also now again with Endgame coming out.
So this kind of triggered something inside me from an emotional perspective and from kind of a physical activism-style perspective as well. I just had to see what can I do.
And that’s why I’m doing all these things on the video or blogging and of course the podcasting. That’s why I talk about it. That’s where I want to just share this story and share other people’s story.
And just to point out that not everyone is able to enjoy it. Not everyone’s able to experience the same where you experience it and they want to. I want to. I really, really want to, but it’s just not even possible for me and I don’t have that option at all, which means that I have to wait a year later or whatever to enjoy what you enjoy as well.
So it’s very frustrating and whether you were like there is a bit of a FOMO (fear of missing out) that everyone has watched it and not you, but you are definitely wanting to watch it.
So this is why I thought of sharing this story and it’s a very emotional one for me now that I think back on it and I got really, really upset. I got really teary about it.
And it was, it was tough. It was very, very tough.
After becoming an advocate…
So now I’m doing this, now I’m talking about it more, now I’m been vocal about it, I want to see what else can I do to make changes.
I want to see if I can have the impact and getting people to notice that, you know what, if you make a few tweaks, if you make a few changes here and there, it can make a huge difference, not just for you, but also for those who want to access those information.
So in this case, if the cinema organisation do what they should be doing to make it easier to access the film, like captions on it, they benefit from it as well as I do. It’s kind of a win-win. I’m not saying you should have, every single film in a cinema should have captions on it and that’s it.
I know that’s not realistic and I know that some should I say “moaners” out there that will complain about “Oh, a caption, why should I watch it? It’s annoying. It’s distracting”.
Frankly, I don’t really care. I’ve had the argument with someone on Twitter before and long story short, that person said, “if a film has captions on it, I will leave the room”.
And I said, well, “that’s one less person that it will be in the room anyway, so off you go”.
Yeah, I know it’s a bit cheeky, but I couldn’t help it. I was defending the person who is campaigning for captions in cinema, more options or having a dedicated room that will have captions on it.
And I just had to defend that person because she was getting a lot of heat and aggression towards her and I didn’t think that was fair.
If it means that you get to go home, then that’s an added bonus.— Ahmed Khalifa (@IamAhmedKhalifa) August 29, 2018
So that was my reply.
But anyway, what I’m saying is I think a lot of people will benefit from it anyway. You know, the cinema will make more money, I will enjoy the experience. I may want to watch it again and again and it just makes me want to go to the cinema even more now.
But right now in this moment in time, I’m never going to the cinema. And I can’t see that changing for a while because where I am right now in Edinburgh anyway, the few cinemas that have those captions available, it just very bad schedule, you know, in timing
And this is even when Endgame is actually very, very popular. So obviously they have it in more screen, in more cinemas and it’s more widely available, which means that you think you would have more options but it’s still very limited.
So you can imagine for the less popular movies with less time on it and less screens showing, then you have less options to watch it with captions. So it’s not just about the Avengers.
And I should probably put a disclaimer. I’m not criticising them, I don’t hate them. I don’t want to get in an argument with them because they can pretty much beat me.
But the point is that it’s not that straight forward when it comes to finding the right time to watch a movie that you want to watch because I don’t have the option. I have tried and people say you do have the option, but it’s not that straightforward.
Anyway, I just want to round it up and I just wanted to share that story of how, weirdly, the Avengers is playing a part in triggering my deaf advocacy and being vocal about it and raising the awareness of it and being a bit of an activist about it as well.
Of all the things, Avengers is one of the few other things, but they have played a part, so maybe I should say thank you. Thank you for that, but I can’t really thank you for the movie because I can’t watch it.
What if YOU can’t or not allowed to do what you want to do?
Let me know what you think about that. Does it make sense to you? Does it affect you at all? Does it make you more aware of the struggles that a lot of people are having?
At the end of the day, let me put it this way if it’s not something that you can relate to: what if you are not able or not allowed to do the thing that you really, really want to because you can’t access it?
If we’re going to put it into the context of watching Avengers: Endgame, what if you are not allowed to watch it? What if you’re not allowed to visit the cinema to watch it? What if you’re not able to watch it? What would you do then?
Let me know on social media or you can reach out to me in the descriptions in the show note, the links to the social media accounts are there. Let me know. I’m really, really curious to hear from you.
And while you’re doing that, I would really appreciate it if you can also leave a review on iTunes on what you think about this podcast. I will read it and it would be awesome to hear from you.
In the meantime, I will speak to you soon.
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