Great Moments in TV Dubbing
by LAUREN BANS
The network TV office where all things FCC-prohibited meet their vanilla alternatives is obliquely dubbed the Standards & Practices department, in the way Stalin was officially titled General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Censorship Czar: it does not look so nice on a business card. Standards & Practices is where "Jesus!" becomes "Gee Whiz!" and the 300 or so ‘fuck’ utterances in Pulp Fiction become signifying bleeps. It’s where, as one Adult Swim segment put it, "funny goes to die."
And it’s true — for the most part watching delightfully ribald, filth-soaked movies through the sugar-rimmed lens of network TV is like watching a George Carlin special had an Azkaban dementor given him a pre-show soul suck backstage. (That is a Harry Potter joke! I’m 28!)
But on rare occasion, Standards & Practices comes up with a dub so fantastically absurd and terrible it actually adds to the enjoyment of the scene rather than detracting from it. (Ahem, looking at you “Yippe Ki Ay, Mister Falcon.”) Without further ado, may I present the five best inadvertently hilarious dubs in television history.
1. Die Hard With A Vengeance: "I Hate Everybody."
In 1995’s Die Hard With A Vengeance (aka Die Hard 3 aka Die Harder-er) Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is forced to walk around Harlem wearing a huge sign that reads "I Hate Niggers" on the orders of a sadistic criminal mastermind, “Simon,” who threatens to bomb a popular NYC location if McClane doesn’t oblige. In the TV version, McClane’s sign is altered to simply read “I Hate Everybody," which basically packs the same punch as Taco Bell’s “Think Outside the Bun.” To be clear: I’m saying it packeth no punch. But the ensuing reaction around McClane remains unaltered — a woman sees the sign and furiously remarks, “OH NO HE DID NOT... that man is asking for a BULLET in his head” and a group of VABK (very angry black kids) approach McClane intending to beat him into sweetbread parts. I mean, please, white people, do not go into Harlem just throwing around the "I Hate Everyone" bomb. Do you not get how ANGRY black people are, just like, ALL THE TIME?
2. Good Will Hunting: "Give me my burger sandwich!"
Will, Chuckie and Morgan are Boston townies. They say "fuck" a lot. Especially when their fucking double burger is on a fucking car dashboard layaway plan. But apparently Televisual Powers decided that substituting "fucking" with “burger” might pass as a wicked believable Bostonism. You know those people in the suburbs who pull up to the Arby’s drive-through window and order a Panini Sandwich? This is like that.
"Give me my burger sandwich!"
"You didn't even pay for your burger sandwich."
"I don't care! Give me my burger sandwich!"
"Fine! Here's your burger sandwich!"
3. Snakes on a Plane: "Enough is ENOUGH, I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes, on this Monday to Friday plane!"
Oh yes, a Monday to Friday plane, I see.
4. The Big Lebowski: "See what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?"
Like many of you, I too enjoyed The Big Lebowski.
One day we’ll meet at a party and express this shared interest, maybe throw around a few of the money quotes (“You mark that frame an 8, and you're entering a world of pain!”) to demonstrate our cultural likeness, and then become fast friends based on our mutual love of the oversaturated symbols of our cultural demographic, like the kids do these days. And I’ll say, “OMG, have you seen the adapted for TV version?” And we’ll talk about how John Goodman and the Coen brothers came up with the meta-parody solution of "See what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?" for the scene where Walter is bashing Larry’s car screaming, "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass, Larry!" Later that evening we’ll become friends on Facebook and never speak again IRL. Fin.
5. Weird Science: "I’m not talking candle wax on their pimples or anything like that."
Let’s start with this: Weird Science, when you get to the heart of it, is a movie about the full-scale corporeal coup d’etat that is teenage sexual awakening — that terrible phase in life when just watching a bee pollinate a tulip can give you a raging boner and all you can do is wrap your Coed Naked Volleyball sweatshirt around your waist in vain. Just about everything is sexual to both sexes, but neither sex understands the opposite sex, so everything is REALLY FRUSTRATING.
Fittingly, the TV version of Weird Science is edited with the grace of a Puritan minister who realizes that just the word “nipple” can cause a spontaneous orgasm in many members of the viewing audience. Emilio Estevez bragging “we’re studs” in the locker room becomes “we’re stars.” (Stud: a sexually virulent word again!) And “candle wax on their nipples” is changed to "candle wax on their pimples.” Another amateur acne remedy that will scare Mom.
"The One In Your Dreams" - Donavon Frankenreiter (mp3)
"All Right" - Donavon Frankenreiter (mp3)
"Dance Like Nobody's Watching" - Donavon Frankenreiter (mp3)