Silent World

Posted by jennifer gibson on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I recently watched the award winning movie called "The Artist".  As I watched it, I kept getting the impression that it was eerily similar to "Singing in the Rain".  Particularly near the end with the dance sequence between the two main characters where it becomes acutely obvious that it's very much like the tap dance number in "Moses Supposes".  By the way, for those of you who are curious, here's the link to that dance scene >

Throughout the movie I kept gritting my teeth and thinking that a scene here and a shot there was very much like "Singing in the Rain" - it drove me batty since it was so obvious.  I'm not entirely sure if that was the intention, like a polite nod to famous stars like Gene Kelly.  Although, if I had to choose between the two, I would pick "Singing in the Rain" in a heartbeat.  I adore Gene Kelly, he's superbly talented and those dance maneuvers are impressive!

However, what I found fascinating was the intensity of the silence used throughout the film with a sprinkling of music from time to time.  Once in awhile sound will suddenly emerge, from the soft thud of a glass being put down onto a table, the sharp barking of the dog and giggling women as they walked by.  It fooled me into thinking that my hearing aid batteries died and I had to keep checking them.  Which made me realize that this is what my world is like, everyday: completely silent.  Until I put my hearing aids on, then I begin to hear sounds once again. 

It was a stunning revelation that if I ever needed to convey my frustration of being hard of hearing, all I needed to do was make a mention of "The Artist" then other people would clue in and say "Aha! I get it now."  It's a perfect educational tool for showing others what my life is very much like. 

When I don't wear my hearing aids, say when I'm working at home, I hear absolutely nothing.  Not even the door bell, vacuum cleaner, thunder or my cat's meows.  It's not until I put them on to talk to other people, that I hear the usual noises all around me.  I start to hear the ambient sounds of the house, the timer of the oven when the cookies are done, the phone ringing or the tv in the living room although to me it's mostly white noise, a cacophony of loud sounds. 

Words are faint until I'm standing in front of someone and lipreading at the same time.  If there's additional background noise such as the kids chattering, that makes it much more difficult for me to decipher what is being spoken.  Not only do I have to try to keep up with the conversation, listen intently, follow their body language and visual clues, I also have to process what was said then come up with an appropriate rely and start all over again. 

I've had people wonder why I'm sometimes slow to respond to their questions, it's most likely because I'm concentrating very hard on hearing them, processing the information and coming up with a witty comment.  It takes time because I don't have that instantaneous ability to block ambient sounds and focus just on the conversation.  I don't have that particular skill.  For most people, it's a natural talent that they learn to use growing up.  When you can't hear, that capaility is virtually non-existent.  Unfortunately, it often gives the poor impression that I'm stupid or too slow to follow conversations. 

At least now I can point people in the direction of "The Artist" to help give them a better insight into what's like being hearing impaired. 

Tags: "the artist"  ambient  noise  "hearing aids"  batteries  conversations  "lip reading"  silence  "singing in the rain"  movies 
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