Sitting in a dark movie theater, leaning forward with your eyes fixed on the screen and hands clenching the edge of the seat, you hear the couple behind you “whisper”: “Is that Matt Damon?”
“Who is Matt Damon?”
“The guy who played in the Bourne series!”
Most of the time you roll your eyes, hating them for ruining your experience. But somewhat bizarrely, these interruptions have themselves become a form of entertainment – though at least, the creators of these “interruptions” have the good grace to do them in text form.
Video streaming websites in China have proven to be fertile ground for a giant community of “subtitles shooters” who revel in the creation and spread of memes, slang terms, and pop culture references, which find their way onto screens during movies, in subtitle form.
The “Bullet Subtitle” feature has been adopted by the biggest video websites in China such as Tudou and iQiyi, and even appeared during a theater screening of the paean to feminine materialism Tiny Times 3. It even made its way into classes when a professor at a university in Wuhan allowed students to create live subtitles during class presentations. This function also became possible during a live concert by Chinese pop duet Yu Quan.
The service, or phenomenon, is called 弹幕dàn mù, which literally translates to “bullet subtitles”. The word refers to the commentaries shooting across the screen, in the style of an arcade shooting game. Originally from Japan, “bullet subtitles” are said to have come to China thanks to anime lovers and followers of what would commonly be considered otaku culture.
这种服务，或是说现象，被称为“弹幕（dàn mù！筒子们再不要读错啦），翻译成“bullet subtitles”。这个名词指的是在屏幕上弹出的评论，以一种街机射击游戏的赶脚。最先起源日本，据说“弹幕”传到中国都是动漫爱好者的功劳，通常被看作是御宅族文化的一种。
n. 私语；谣传；飒飒的声音vi. 耳语；密谈；飒飒地响vt. 低声说出
n. [数][计] 序列；顺序；续发事件vt. 按顺序排好