Monday, April 16, 2012

No Shortage Of ASL Nazis

Some people are just messed up. You want proof? Just read the comments following online newspaper articles and sports sites, or in this case, the comments following YouTube videos.

Just tonight, I came across the three new Paul McCartney videos for My Valentine, one of which features the beautiful Natalie Portman, one of which features the equally beautiful Johnny Depp, and one of which fades in and out between both.

The videos are stark and stunning in their elegant simplicity, and complement the song perfectly. Smoldering, intimate and deeply sensuous, the two actors gaze into the camera, then use American Sign Language in time with McCartney’s voice. I found the entire experience to be moving and memorable.

But the point is the comments following these excellent videos. Many are what you expect: “my favorite singer + my favorite actor + my favorite language = my favorite video ever <3” from amymarie073; “this is art” from XDPeruMan.

Others quickly degenerate into an argument about how Lennon was better that McCartney, or how McCartney isn’t what he used to be, or just a general foul-mouthed mish-mash.

What bothers me most, though, is the comments knocking the supposed errors in proper ASL, such as this one from sistecker:

While inaccurate signs and stoic facial expressions were used in this video, it's highly recommended that you get in touch with a professional Deaf organization that consists of native and certified ASL professionals.”

Or this one from darrenfrazier, who asks who provided the instruction: someone “most likely not deaf, but who knew sign language at an amateur level, perhaps a volunteering interpreter at a church, hmmm?”

Were I Mr. McCartney, I would likely be reminded of an expression I used to hear in Europe: “Up yours!” Sorry, mom, it had to be said.

What is wrong with people like this? Don’t they have better things to do, like throwing eggs at Girl Scouts? The Soup Nazi was funny, ASL Nazis are not.

My daughter, who is finishing her third year of ASL instruction, says the signing is pretty much right on in these videos, so that’s good enough for me. She also reminded me that, like all of us, deaf people have their own style, their own peculiarities, their own language shortcuts in ASL.

Interestingly enough, Portman and Depp were instructed by “native and certified ASL professionals” at The Sign Language Company, which seems like a pretty good source to me, despite the fact that they are from LA.
What do you think?

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