Paul & Tina’s Signalong: Haters gonna hate

I am not as offended or concerned about Paul & Tina’s Signalong as some people are. I think exposure to ASL can be a good thing, regardless of who’s signing. If Deaf signers want to be offended by Paul & Tina, and educate them about their language and culture, that is their job. It’s not ASL/English interpreters’ job to be offended for Deaf people.

Screenshot of Paul & Tina’s video

I am not as offended or concerned about Paul & Tina’s Signalong as some people are. I think exposure to ASL can be a good thing, regardless of who’s signing. Personal experience: the first time I was truly impressed with the beauty of ASL was at a monologue competition in 1985, when a hearing girl spoke and signed a monologue from Children of a Lesser God. I have no idea, in retrospect, how good she was at signing; all I remember is I thought it was beautiful. The fact that she spoke and signed at the same time made it accessible to me. I don’t think I would have gotten the same impression at the time if I had seen a Deaf woman delivering the same monologue, even if it were interpreted. I might have been more intimidated than entertained. I might have seen more differences than similarities. I might not have been ready for the culture shock.

If you read the comments on Paul & Tina’s Signalong Facebook page post about taking down their donation site, you’ll see a variety of views, both supportive and critical, both from hearing and Deaf people. I think this dialogue is a good thing. The comments from d/Deaf people were more supportive than those from interpreters, though, and I think that’s telling. If Deaf signers want to be offended by Paul & Tina, and educate them about their language and culture, that is their job. It’s not ASL/English interpreters’ job to be offended for Deaf people.

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish

Where you start isn’t necessarily where you end up. It’s not Paul & Tina’s job to be Deaf, and they’re not trying to be. They’re just being themselves and having fun with it. They’re not the be all, end all; they’re just doing their thing. Where people take it from there is their business. Time will tell whether future interpreters might have first thought ASL was fun by watching their videos. Eventually, we learn from Deaf people if we get that far. And if we don’t get that far, what’s the harm?

Author: Daniel Greene

I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people, and I teach people American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreting. Apart from doing the work I love, my greatest joys are family & friends, entertainment, food, photography, and travel.

17 thoughts on “Paul & Tina’s Signalong: Haters gonna hate”

  1. I’m not a hater of Tina and Paul, my thing is they’ve gained fame and attention all over the world with their sign language that is not true ASL and took donations for their wedding, it’s so wrong.
    I’m not against hearings to learn ASL. Many of you who has seen Deaf people say that ASL is Deaf language maybe I missed that part where they may have said “Deaf own ASL” If they have, I don’t agree but I agree ASL is Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s language. Hearing people didn’t come up with that language the Deaf/Hoh did.
    The main issue with Tina and Paul is destroying the true language of ASL, making money out of it for their wedding etc

    There’s this ASL teacher named Brittany Adams from Michigan she teaches her hearing students ASL, she posted a video on Deaf awareness week not for fame not for attention nor profit like Tina and Paul did.
    Brittany signs the true language of ASL 10x times better than Tina and rookie Paul.
    A deaf teacher from Texas has asked her to do a duet with her, that says something no deaf teacher/actor/whatnot will ask Tina and Paul to do duet with them.

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  2. Why is the deaf community making such a big deal about Tina and Paul making their ASL videos? It is all about show business and marketing and the drive they made to produce their videos. We live in a country where we are free to do what we want to do and to survive. If the deaf community did not want this then they could have done the marketing themselves. It is like first come, first serve. If it sells, then it sells and attracts anyone who enjoys watching it. We need to stop being so critical and let it go and stop whining about life. We are grown adults and applaud for those who stepped up the ladder to open the doors about our ASL language through media, show business and so forth.
    Move on and worry about your own self and family and friends……

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  3. I am happy we are discussing this topic. I am not a ASL extremeist and i completely disagree with what P&T are doing. I am a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult), a professional interpreter, and a business owner. There is a big misconception on what the ASL community is doing . People are perceiving it to be as “Negative”,”Hating”, etc .. If they want to do videos, do it right. Tina is not fluent in ASL and is using a lot of wrong signs and concepts. Music is a very challenging area to work on, you must be very skilled to do a ASL music video effectively. She is an EIPA interpreter ( an educational interpreter) so imagine a math teacher who doesnt know how to sing or read music sheets or how to use your diaphram while signing is teaching music … You would want either out of that class or the teacher out. We are upset because Tina knows the CPC ( Code of Professional Conduct) and she is clearly violating Tenet 4.0 Respect for consumers. Granted they did this video for fun, thats good for them but what they are doing with this new found fame is where the disagreement comes in …. Yes they put up a fundraiser for $20,000.00 for production and distribution of teaching ASL videos … Why? They are teaching the wrong signs ? Wouldnt you want to learn something the right way ?Okay they put it down … what did they do with the money they have already rasied? Hmm … Have you seen P&T commenting to Deaf people using sarcasm, insulting them, and supporting hearing indivuduals that are calling deaf people stupid, idiots, haters, no lifes etc ? And they are bringing awareness ? they are bringing it in a negative way. Paul and Tina put out a video saying they want to make it bigger and become full time in doing the videos… Like come on now if you are going to do it do it right or even better let a deaf person do it let a deaf person show off the language they are skilled at, let a deaf person who often gets overlooked at because they are deaf show the talent they have. Thats what the problem is .

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    1. Would you cite some of your sources? Either I have not seen the things you’re taking about, or I have different perceptions of them. I can only comment on things I’ve actually seen or read, which is what I’ve done in this blog post.

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  4. I just have to share some more thoughts here:

    I’m certainly not in love with Paul & Tina, as some people are, but I’m also not angry with them, as some people are. Will their fifteen minutes turn into anything as big as what they think it will be? Probably not. Are they diminishing others as they aggrandize themselves? Maybe. But not any more than hearing-on-hearing competition or deaf-on-deaf competition. It’s show biz, baby.

    I can tell you from experience that I’ve been creating and posting content on the Internet for decades now, and none of my “viral” dreams (counting the time before the viral was even a thing) have come true. Do I hate them because their video went viral and none of mine have? No. Would I hate it if some straight guy’s video about homosexuality went viral when this gay guy’s (yours truly’s) videos have not? No. I might experience some professional jealousy. I do all the time. I used to think I was hot sh*t as a song signer until I saw the talent on YouTube that blew me away. I have had many dreams as a singer, actor, dancer, model, voiceover narrator, photographer, teacher, presenter, etc. that have not come true. People want what they want, and as I said, “That’s show biz!”

    Another thing I know from experience as a creator of web content is how extremely time consuming it is— and that’s just to produce it. To respond to the response they’ve gotten and keep producing… I can’t even imagine. Personally, I have ways to make money off my content — I request donations, have AdSense on YouTube, and have affiliate links to products on a few of my web pages where I posted unsolicited reviews of products I just felt like reviewing. Yet all this gets me maybe $100 a year— not even enough to pay for domain and Web hosting, much less to compensate me for all the time I spend researching, writing, editing, and maintaining my various sites. I’m not famous, and fame is not what I do it for. I’ll keep asking for money and monetizing my content as much as I can, and use whatever “spare change” I get. If they want to produce on a grander scale — which obviously they have the fan base for — they do need money. As I read someone else say, consumers of Internet content have developed an entitlement mentality that you can get everything for nothing. And that’s just not feasible for content providers. You may disagree with them, but as the lyric in the song “There’s No Business Like Show Business” goes “–everything the traffic will allow.” That is, if the audience will buy it, you can sell it. Sorry to say, but a minority of Deaf people are not going to stem the flow of traffic to Paul & Tina, because most of their audience are either hearing, hard-of-hearing, deaf, or culturally Deaf people who like what they’re putting out. And if a few hundred of those millions of “customers” are willing to pay, more power to ’em.

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  5. Yup, haters gonna hate. First these ASL extremists were upset because they thought Paul and Tina were making money off of deaf people’s language which they claim only belongs to them. No one owns any language. Then they went on and on about other things such as, they are supposed to consult with the deaf community first. Well, hello! The deaf community is so diverse and they’re not going to get a consensus. And, besides, that video wasn’t intended to go viral, it was not their intention at all. .

    Truth is when I first saw that video, I thought, hmm one of the better ASL music videos I’ve seen. While I am a person who is deaf, raised by deaf parents and grew up in deaf culture, I’m not too crazy about ASL music videos because I prefer music videos to be transliterated with nuances of expressions, preferably matching the lyrics and beat rather than ‘translation’ which does not match up with the lyrics in English format. I thought they were cute tho and enjoyed their video more than I probably would for any ASL music video. And then, I saw so many of my FB friends and so many others I recognize as part of deaf culture, clicking like, leaving comments and loving Paul and Tina. I thought to myself, wow…that’s BIG! I stayed back and did not say anything but was watching their video go viral, not only in the hearing community but also the deaf community, especially among the deaf folks who are not ‘elite’ but grassroots, many whom I know. I was impressed. I waited a bit and lo and behold…there comes the ASL extremists, angry and demanding Paul and Tina STOP and accusing them of exploiting them and their language and their culture. Wow. Paul and Tina have already explained that they have NO intention of making money/profit from these videos.

    Ya know, their first video was not intended to get attention, it was part of their project for their upcoming wedding. And, it went viral, much to P and T’s surprise. so, there was no intention on their part for attention/money making, etc. That part is very clear.

    There are TONS of ASL music videos online by many hearing people. But the ones that went viral are the ones that are irritating them.

    P and T’s video has inspired MANY. There are so many awesome and beautiful stories embedded in many comments in FB and YT. Just amazing. More of the world knows more about ASL and deaf people and the fact that they exist!! One story was, oh so heartwarming and it has to do with Doody and “take me to the ball game” signed by Tina and sung by Paul who also played the guitar. The look on that kid’s face was priceless. If it wasn’t for ASL and the deaf community, the beauty of how ASL can impact people would have been lost.

    I really don’t think these deaf people with extreme views about ASL bothered to read all the comments involving how Paul and Tina exposing them to ASL had a great impact on them and/or their family.

    Yup, haters gonna hate.

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  6. My main concern are the future of the Deaf children who utilizes their true language and works hard to succeed in life in the future via ASL/English written. When a hearing people doesn’t really know how to really sign, using Deaf children’s language for their own advances and leave true native language users, the children behind.

    For an example: Hearing people who doesn’t know Deaf life, never met anyone who is Deaf, will say…. But, I saw Paul did this and he could do this and this is good enough when signers are really bad and sloppy. It will cause the domino effect for others to choose bad, sloppy signers over true American Sign Language native users. There are Deaf people who works hard to get their craft with ASL recognized in the real world after years of struggle and spent lifetime doing perfecting their ASL Craft as born ASL users. Then a simple hearing man who just learned took all of the credits and exploited it and just took it away as it was nothing.

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  7. Chiming in, we do not like seeing people appropriate our language for their own gain –when they are not even fluent. Don’t get us wrong. We aren’t haters or people filled w jealousy as Tina & Paul claimed. They are not able to step outside the box and see our perspective. It is not cool with what they are trying to do: Disregarding us.

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    1. I agree it’s not cool to disregard people, Tina Jo, but I know from experience that you sometimes have to disregard criticism, and there will always be people who criticize, a.k.a. haters, especially on YouTube.

      Can you post a link to where Tina & Paul claimed you were haters or people filled with jealousy? I don’t remember reading that, but I don’t know where to look.

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  8. I am more than happy to share my concerns, and it is best for me to use my strongest language, American Sign Language to express my concerns. Writing them down can lead some misunderstandings. I am glad that you are willing to have the conversation. There are plenty of dialogue going on Facebook which many of us are discussing this.

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  9. You just don’t get it. What you are really doing is to dismissing our genuine concerns and not be able to see the bigger picture. Daniel, take a blue pill and be blissful. I have my red pill and I can see the problem. Hope someday you are willing to have the conversation with Deaf people, who you deemed as ‘haters’ to find out what are our genuine concerns.

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