The Subtitle Character from Stranger Things Talks About “tentacles Undulating Moistly.”

With the release of Stranger Things season 4 on Netflix, the nostalgic sci-fi series has once again gained recognition as one of the few remaining examples of a shared experience in the increasingly fragmented media world.

The most recent episodes of the show have created a whole new set of touchstones for fans to perform connection over, such as a shared understanding that, yes, Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” is a pretty good song (currently enjoying a Kate Bush-Esque Hawkins Bump after being featured in the season finale), and a forced reflection on that whole “Doja Cat vs. Noah Schnapp” thing that we honestly just can’t with today.

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We can also include [tentacles undulating moistly], [dissonant gurgling], and all the other truly amazing subtitles that have appeared this season of the show. These descriptions have drawn a lot of internet attention from fans due to their, uh, intensity.

This, according to an interview conducted this week by Vulture with the show’s subtitle author, Jeff T., and its subtitle QA editor, Karli Witkowska, is not at all an accident. It’s an interesting look into a field that is much more intentional and much less automatic than you might initially think.

Both subtitlers, among other things, talk about the importance that genre plays in their work and highlight that they want viewers who use subtitles to gain a sense of the show’s overall feel and intensity as well as its basic material. It’s the distinction between “[two music notes for “Running Up That Hill”] and the descriptor the show actually used for a stressful moment, [Epic synth arrangement of “Running Up That Hill” playing,” as Jeff T. observes.]

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Stranger Things subtitle guy talks about "tentacles undulating moistly"

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Even so, Jeff T. acknowledges that he may have engaged in some “trolling” with some of his selections (which, interestingly, are made independently of the show’s producers, Matt and Ross Duffer, even if Netflix does have to approve the subtitles).

I’ll admit I was a little bit trolling with that, he admits, using the well-known [tentacles undulating moistly] description that’s been widely used online. For his own entertainment and, presumably, that of the show’s nerdier fans, he also admits to inserting at least a few explicit Dungeons & Dragons references.

However, Witkowska and Jeff T. both make it clear that adding more overtly descriptive or evocative wording to the subtitles isn’t just an exercise in self-amusement or Easter eggs: It’s an essential stage in ensuring that all series viewers share anything resembling the same emotional reaction to the program.

Witkowska: “It’s our responsibility that the deaf community can still understand that complete switch of atmosphere and tone when it comes to a show like ST where you have something so fun and upbeat like when they’re riding along in the pizza van, and then all of a sudden, something completely different happens. We are not properly performing our duties if we are not doing it.

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