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Reading Lips


(permanent link) added: 2010-11-21 22:38:58 sponsor: KZN02 (last reply: 2010-11-25 12:30:54)

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Milhouse: What are they saying?
Bart: I'm not sure.
Milhouse: I thought you said you could read lips.
Bart: I assumed that I could.
--The Simpsons, "Lemon of Troy"

Characters being able to understand what others are saying by reading their lips. Usually an ability of deaf people, though anybody with good eyesight at least can have it.

Can be used when two characters want to communicate silently. Alice wants to give Bob a message, so she mouths it to him. If Played for Laughs, then Bob will reveal that he can't read lips, making the whole thing pointless.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: in one episode, a Tachikoma reads the lips of the Major and Batou as a Shout-Out to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Subverted because they know they're being watched and have their conversation via wireless communication with their cyberbrains and have a fake conversation for the Tachikoma to lip read leaving them falsely reassured that The Major was merely chewing Bateau out for being too much of a Drill Seargent Nasty and the Tachikoma weren't being decommissioned.
  • Soul Eater: Justin Law can read lips, which is good considering he has ear phones on most of the time.

Comic Books
  • In Avengers Academy #1, Finesse reads Speedball's lips and learns that the students are there because they are the most likely to become supervillains.

Film
  • In 2001:A Space Odyssey, Dave and Frank lock themselves in a soundproof pod so they can safely talk about the project computer, HAL, who seems to be acting strange. It doesn't occur to them that HAL can read lips...

Literature
  • Encyclopedia Brown realizes that the thief who "overheard" the owners of a barber shop could do so while sitting under a hair dryer because she could read lips.
  • In the classic Sci-Fi novella E for Effort a couple of guys invent a machine that films historical events (like Napoleon at Waterloo); they hire expeert lipreaders to figure out what exactly the people they film are saying - it comes without audio.
  • In Judge Dee, Tao Gan mentions that among his many skills of questionaable legality, he can read lips (it's easier on children and women than on bearded men).

Live-Action TV
  • One episode of Monk involved a murderer who could read lips, which is how he managed to "eavesdrop" on a conversation in a building from afar.
  • There was a Seinfeld episode that centered around this. Jerry was dating a deaf woman who misread his saying "six" as "sex."
  • Kensi from NCIS: Los Angeles
  • There's an episode of The Pretender where the hero takes lip-reading lessons from a deaf woman in order, IIRC, to be able to figure out a conversation on a piece of surveillance footage.
  • The Wire has a few scenes with a lip-reader -- Herc manages to plant a camera overlooking Marlo's preferred meeting-spot but not a microphone, so he brings one in to tell him what Marlo is saying.
  • Scrubs: JD zones out and tries to recreate the lip motions so that they can be read.

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