Friday, August 23, 2013

The Hillbilly Voice Synthesizer

I've had many opportunities to hear some of the hillbilly reality shows on TV, not intentionally but because they're on when I pass by. These include the one I know by name, "Call of the Wildman," which has something to do with the work of one good old boy, who's capturing ducks and other wild animals that are found where they're not wanted. I'm definitely not an expert in the show.

As I go by, I hear a few of the hillbilly-type interactions, the whiny voices and dialect. I have a couple of strong feelings on this. One, even though I'm completely interested in hillbillies in the abstract, when I see actual ones with TV shows, I'm not interested at all. But, two, I have a a sense of gratitude that some of my distant "cuzzins" are at least working, and evidently doing well. And after so many generations of dissolution, degeneration, and chaos, that's really saying something.

I'm definitely not sure that it says anything good about the state of TV, though. Back in the day when we were first so excited about the endless possibilities of cable TV -- fools that we were -- had we known it would come to this, we would've kept the family radio. Or bought an interest in the barber shop, so we'd have a place to sit with impunity and watch haircuts.

Still, there they are: guys rasslin' gators, guys pulling coons out from under people's houses, and I don't know what all. In the few bits I've seen -- the parts I haven't blanked out -- I believe I saw five or six ducks with rabies either get well or die. Which is a big deal.

But my interest isn't to document the episodes, but to see what we can do about classing them up. In my opinion, the whiny dialect needs to go, or at least be tinkered with to make it not quite so grating. For this, I'm looking for an inventor. I also see on TV that there's lots of opportunities for inventors, even though they admit that most inventions fail. This is one that would completely succeed, because imagine the gratitude, if we had someone would could synthesize the dialogue and have it changed to something classy.

It would go from that backwoods heehaw talk to polished English. And even if the lips didn't match up, it'd still be good. Our inventor makes a machine and synthesizes or translates them on the fly. The hillbilly with his ducks says, "What we're lookin' at right here is a whole passel of ducks foamin' out the bill, them quackers are in a right bad fix with the hydra-phoby." But after being synthesized, replaced, it'd come out more properly, "We're presenting the sad case of five ducks with rabies, their misfortune being properly named hydrophobia. We hope to staunch the dreadful foaming and restore them back to their normal lives." See how much nicer that is?

Or just for another scene, to really sell you on the idea, the hillbilly's chasing a family of coons around the room. One's hiding in a closet, one's under a table, one's swinging from the lights, and one's behind the TV. He's armed with nothing but a stick with a rope looped around the end. In he goes! Instead of talking about the "dirty little boogers" with sharp teeth likened to "the beer openers at a church picnic," it's all synthesized as something more impartial and academic: "In fear, the raccoon shows something less than cheerfulness, baring its teeth as a means of defense against what to it is likely an enemy."

I could almost watch that ... IF there wasn't anything else to do in life.

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