Russell Porter with The Guillotines

UK-based Russell Porter chronicles alt music culture in the Porter Report with aggressive wit and offbeat charm. Today, the "professional chancer and well known layabout" joins us on Boing Boing TV for a live session by alt-blues-punk band the Guillotines (Sounds Like: "we suffer for our music and now it's your turn.") Next, some wasted chick with a double mohawk tries to hit our host up for spare change.

Here are previous BBtv episodes featuring Russell Porter. (special thanks to Jolon Bankey).

About Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email:
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8 Responses to Russell Porter with The Guillotines

  1. Jelf says:

    Love Russell’s bbTV eps, but is it really necessary to add subtitles?
    Surely, BoingBoing’s cosmopolitan readership don’t find British accents THAT hard to understand?

  2. CooCooCooChoo says:

    Yes, I found the subtitling a little obnoxious.

    Especially when viewers from outside north America are expected to be able to understand Xeni’s gravelly Virginianese, Mark’s nasal voice and, hark, Cory’s Canadian accent without assistance. Gasp! How ever do we do it??!

    I would have thought that Russell Porter has a pretty standard, clear southern English accent. I hate to think what BBTV would do with a regional accent from the UK. Subtitles, with subtitles for the subtitles probably.

    Sorry for the cynicism, but this sort of thing is very ethnocentric.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Stuff it, both of you.

    If you want ethnocentrism, you can’t do much better than the persistent southern English belief that southern English is the geological type specimen from which all other varieties of English are incorrect deviations.

    I’ve heard plenty of southern UK speech. Russell Porter’s version isn’t bad for a non-rhotic accent: certainly easier to understand than Newcastle-upon-Tyne, though not as clear as some of the Scottish accents I’ve met.

    However, Russell Porter is a fast talker who half-swallows some of his syllables and drops all his initial aitches; the chick with the double mohawk is impaired; and if you’re from the States, some of the idioms are going to be unfamiliar. The combination warrants subtitles. “We’re back in like neon” would have been a stumper without them, and I’d have never figured out that the chick with the mohawk is calling RP a posh bastard.

    I’m sorry you didn’t understand how funny it was to have subtitles when Russell Porter was speaking, but not when the lead singer of The Guillotines was singing the blues. That kind of was an ethnocentric thing, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

    Moving on to a different issue —

    What’s the disabled/non-disabled version of ethnocentrism? Because you guys have got it in spades. What I have is lousy hearing. I turn on subtitles whenever they’re an option, even if the people onscreen hail from the Intermountain West. (I’d give you a demonstration of the native accent in all its force and purity by saying “Y’all’re a pair of wusses,” but without expert phonological transcription it just wouldn’t come out right.)

    You thought the subtitles were irritating? I thought they were great. I’ll take more of that any time.

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Moderator, Boing Boing

  4. Anonymous says:

    (Yes, that really is me in the previous comment. We’re having technical difficulties again. -tnh)

  5. Jelf says:

    @ #3, Teresa (assuming it is you)

    I accept your explanation, but that part about disabled viewers was a bit silly. I fail to see how myself and the second commenter have ‘the disabled/non-disabled version of ethnocentrism in spades’ [sic] – a rather offensive accusation!

    You might have a point if the subtitles really were added for the benefit of hearing-impaired viewers, but that’s clearly not the case as you never subtitle Americans on bbTV (see the current episode, for example).

    And besides, what makes you so sure that neither of us is disabled?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don’t fret. I’m perfectly willing to believe you’re disabled.

    And perhaps I’m missing something as well. Aside from translations, is there some use for subtitles other than helping viewers know what’s being said onscreen?

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Moderator, Boing Boing

  7. Jelf says:

    You’re right, translation IS the main purpose of subtitles, and that’s the point; there’s not much to ‘translate’ here. Russell’s words are quite easily understood, given a bit of effort.

    Americans in general often appear very lazy when it comes to understanding other cultures (although I’m absolutely certain this isn’t the case with you chaps) and the practice of subtitling non-US English speakers doesn’t do much to contradict this.

    The more you’re exposed to an accent, the better you understand it. British people are exposed to many kinds of American accents through films and television and can often understand even very strong regional US accents – I doubt this would be the case if any ‘difficult’ accents were automatically subtitled to save us the trouble of having to actually pay attention.

    Reader, Boing Boing

  8. CooCooCooChoo says:

    Hi Teresa, thanks for your responses.

    Let me make myself clearer (and less sarcastic):

    Using subtitles generally = good. Useful for all sorts of purposes including for the hard-of-hearing, deaf, English learners and even simple situations when you don’t want to turn your speakers on. However, all of these purposes are universal, not specific to one podcast. I haven’t seen subtitles before on BBTV so if you’re planning to subtitle everything, or as much as you can, then that’s great.

    Suddenly using subtitles only when a British guy is speaking (and not playing the blues…) = questionable.

    If the justification here is that Russell Porter mumbles, fine – but so do a lot of other people who’ve appeared on BBTV, and they haven’t been subtitled (to my knowledge). You can understand then why I made the point about ethnocentrism. If this is the start of a ‘subtitle all mumblers’ policy and thus all poor orators who are to appear in future episodes will be subtitled, then I do apologise.

    “If you want ethnocentrism, you can’t do much better than the persistent southern English belief that southern English”…
    “That kind of was an ethnocentric thing, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.”

    I don’t want ethnocentrism in any form. I’m not English, though English is my native language. So I’m as upset as you at that sort of thing.

    “What’s the disabled/non-disabled version of ethnocentrism?”
    …”What I have is lousy hearing”…
    No idea what you’re getting at here, so I’ll simply say that subtitles for these purposes would be useful in every episode.

    “and if you’re from the States, some of the idioms are going to be unfamiliar”

    Yes, and the American idioms used regularly here and on BB are “going to be unfamiliar” to BB’s substantial English-speaking non-US viewership/readership, but we seem to get along fine without assistance – indeed I enjoy hearing new expressions here and on BB. Can you explain then why US readers are now deemed to need help?
    Besides, subtitling doesn’t actually enlighten someone as to the
    meaning of idioms – it just helps with the literal words. So I’m not sure about this justification. Again, if this is the start of a ‘subtitle all people who use idioms’ policy, then I do apologise. But again I haven’t seen it before here.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t have subtitles. Indeed they’re a good idea. I’m simply suggesting that you be consistent about it. Either subtitle all mumblers (including north Americans), subtitle everyone, or subtitle no-one.

    A “subtitle people with accents we think north Americans will find difficult but other people may not, except when they’re singing the blues” approach just seems somewhat odd.

    As Jelf said, BB has a cosmopolitan readership/viewership. So let your practices reflect this if at all possible.

    Just putting in ‘my 2 cents’ 😉


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