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When subtitles are homophobic - Eternal Love
Eternal Love is a very popular Chinese romantic drama currently available on Netflix Canada. I originally had the English subtitles on, but eventually turned them off (as they were distractingly...
Eternal Love is a very popular Chinese romantic drama currently available on Netflix Canada. I originally had the English subtitles on, but eventually turned them off (as they were distractingly poor). As with a lot of period Chinese dramas with a female protagonist, there's crossdressing. Our main character pretends to be a guy, is accepted under a great master and trains alongside 16 other (all male) disciples.
I should mention here that Chinese is generally not gender specific. Written pronouns are basically for everyone, for female only (not really used, but seeing more use now for translating foreign media), for living creatures (like dogs and cats) and really specific uses (such as inanimate objects). When spoken, they all sound the same.
In this show's substitles, I noticed a very inconsistent use of pronouns for our main character. Since no one knows she's a woman, I expect the masculine form to be used. However, it often jumped to the feminine. My sister pointed out that it seemed like they stuck with the masculine in general, but switch to the feminine when talking about her romantically. So you end up with lines like "Shouldn't he be here?" and "Master's always had a soft spot for her." said by the same people.
This obviously made the show really confusing for me where I wasn't sure if everyone knew she was a woman. I know there's often ideas, feelings and more lost in translation, but this is one of the few times I felt very different message was sent in the original Chinese language (where a gay relationship was implied and accepted) to English (where there clearly wasn't a gay relationship).
Here, I should note that gay relationships in media and in public is not legally accepted in China. So I don't believe this was malicious. The Chinese version heavily implied a lot that couldn't be outright said, but translating it probably didn't afford the same liberties.
Thoughts? With so much international media easily available now, have you noticed anything similar?15 votes