Episode 31. In which we all become TV critics.

There is a lot of rubbish on TV these days.  I am a bit of a linguist, I studied languages and linguistics at university, and actors getting paid to do bad accents is something that winds me right up.

Why do you have an English woman pretending to be American to sell mascara?  Pretending badly at that.  Were there no Americans available at casting?  How did the directors manage to convince themselves that for one of the least important roles in the world, for a part where only the voice mattered, the best person for the job was the one that failed in the only task asked of her?  I’m not a mimic myself, I’m not saying I could’ve done a better American accent, but I have a very good ear, and her accent is wrong.   Maybe I’m mistaken, and this actress genuinely is American, but if so, I guarantee that she either learned to speak as a child from people with a non-American accent, or else she is from a different part of America than the advert wanted her to sound like she was from.

I don’t have a problem with people faking accents in general.  There’s a Scottish doctor in Stargate Atlantis who is actually Canadian.  His parents are Scottish and it seems to me he’s copying them.  He’s doing a very good job of it, although not perfect, but I don’t care, because if it’s integral to the role that the character be Scottish and the best actor for the job happens to be Canadian then the accent isn’t going to be perfect.  I like him a lot, and the little mispronunciations make me smile.

Similarly, House.  I’m so used to watching House now that if Hugh Laurie’s accent isn’t perfect i’m not aware of it.  And in any case his backstory is that he’s an army brat, grew up around the world, and who has a 100% predictable accent when they’re not 100% born and bred in one place, and surrounded by people who are the same?

Similarly, the woman that plays Sarah Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  I believe she’s from Yorkshire.  I’d never have guessed it.  Maybe it’s the context, she does a lot of whispering and a lot of shouting, and anything in between is always a bit angsty, and that’s bound to affect your voice patterns.

The fact of the matter is, however, that people complain about actors and their accents far too much, and when they do, they are very rarely justified.  I read a while ago that Hugh Laurie (House) and Michelle Ryan (Bionic Woman) were voted as having the worst American accents on American TV.  I have to say, whoever voted was a big bunch of liars.  They weren’t perfect, but they weren’t far from it, and voting for the most famous accent fakers was a lazy copout.

Have you ever heard Colm Meaney talk?  I like the man, I do, but his entire American accent repertoire depends on the fact that the Irish and American accents are already somewhat similar, he just says his Ts as Ds and hopes it comes out right, and he’s bloody everywhere.

Jason Statham’s similar.  Although I’m far less likely to point out his mistakes since he’s pretty hawt.  I do quite often have a hard time working out where he’s supposed to come from, though.  I don’t even know in The Transporter whether he’s supposed to be English or Irish or American or what, to be honest.   I don’t care, though.  See above re: hawt.

Brad Pitt in Snatch.  His accent was great.  It was completely indecipherable, but I’ve got a cousin back in County Laois that sounds almost exactly the same, and I have to give Brad massive points for that film.  But then, I’ve always liked him best when he played slightly crazy (see Twelve Monkeys and my favourite episode of Friends).

Anyway, the accent thing is something that bugs me.  I’m a bit of a mongrel and grew up in a house where both my parents had different accents, and neither one of those was the same as the neighbours.  And I grew up in the newer end of what is becoming more and more of a little commuter town so the neighbours on each side had different accents from each other.  I’m quite sensitive to accents, I’m not good at copying them myself but I can hear them, I can hear the similarities between accents and therefore the differences, and I know how hard copying them is so when I hear a passable American accent from a British actor, it impresses me.

And when some bint gets paid my weekly salary for doing an abysmal fake accent for ten seconds on a mascara advert, it pisses me off.

My accent’s lovely, and I do it very well.  How do I get to be a voiceover artist?

Diabetic moment of the day

I had to have a Wagon Wheel this morning after breakfast.  My insulin requirement goes down and down.


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