Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
BBC Orders Steve McQueen's "Epic" Drama Series on a Black Community in London, From 1968 to 2014 BBC Orders Steve McQueen's "Epic" Drama Series on a Black Community in London, From 1968 to 2014 It's Official! Trevor Noah Will Indeed Succeed Jon Stewart as Host of 'The Daily Show' It's Official! Trevor Noah Will Indeed Succeed Jon Stewart as Host of 'The Daily Show' Producer of 'The Walking Dead' Says There’s No Conspiracy to Kill Off the Black Male Characters Producer of 'The Walking Dead' Says There’s No Conspiracy to Kill Off the Black Male Characters Roger Moore Says Idris Elba as James Bond is "Unrealistic" Because He's Not "English-English" Roger Moore Says Idris Elba as James Bond is "Unrealistic" Because He's Not "English-English" Dr Dre Hopes the N.W.A. Movie Will Correct Notions of the Group's Treatment of Women + Working on Inspired Album, More Dr Dre Hopes the N.W.A. Movie Will Correct Notions of the Group's Treatment of Women + Working on Inspired Album, More TV Casting Directors React to Deadline's "Ethnic Castings" Article (A Fad That Will Eventually Pass?) TV Casting Directors React to Deadline's "Ethnic Castings" Article (A Fad That Will Eventually Pass?) Taraji P. Henson Will Host 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time in April (How Many Black Women Have Hosted?) Taraji P. Henson Will Host 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time in April (How Many Black Women Have Hosted?) For White TV Writers Who Have Considered Racism When *Ethnic* Diversity Is Too Much For White TV Writers Who Have Considered Racism When *Ethnic* Diversity Is Too Much 'Key & Peele' "Substitute Teacher" Sketch to be Developed as a Feature Film 'Key & Peele' "Substitute Teacher" Sketch to be Developed as a Feature Film Tyler Perry Studios Forms Film, TV & Infrastructure Alliance w/ 4 Other Major Atlanta Studios Tyler Perry Studios Forms Film, TV & Infrastructure Alliance w/ 4 Other Major Atlanta Studios Watch: Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image in Award-Winning Short Film 'Yellow Fever' Watch: Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image in Award-Winning Short Film 'Yellow Fever' Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe are a Dysfunctional Mother-Son Pair in Trailer for 'Knucklehead' Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe are a Dysfunctional Mother-Son Pair in Trailer for 'Knucklehead' What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) 73 New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season. Here's the Full List 73 New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season. Here's the Full List HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Hollywood & The Ministry Of "Silly Accents"

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 11, 2012 at 12:50PM

So... maybe we should all just agree that, just as an article I read on the Guardian UK's site said: "unless one casts Indians to play Indians (unlike Alec Guinness in A Passage to India, 1984), Danes to play Danes (instead of accent-prone Meryl Streep's Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, 1985), Irishmen to play Irishmen (to avoid the many begorrah horrors) etc, most accents [in movies] border on caricature," and thus we should just accept that fact, instead of griping every time an actor's/actress's attempt at an unfamiliar accent fails?!
14
Invictus

So... maybe we should all just agree that, just as an article I read on the Guardian UK's site said: "unless one casts Indians to play Indians (unlike Alec Guinness in A Passage to India, 1984), Danes to play Danes (instead of accent-prone Meryl Streep's Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, 1985), Irishmen to play Irishmen (to avoid the many begorrah horrors) etc, most accents [in movies] border on caricature," and thus we should just accept that fact, instead of griping every time an actor's/actress's attempt at an unfamiliar accent fails?!

That's as much of a question as it is a statement, by the way.

We've had convos on this blog about the accents of American actors taking on non-American roles (and vice-versa) - for example, Sanaa Lathan in Wonderful World, and Morgan Freeman in Invictus.

Frankly, for most audiences who don't have an ear attuned to the nuances of Senegalese and South African accents (which themselves also vary within those countries) in these 2 cases, Lathan and Freeman (and Matt Damon) will sound authentic enough.

But is "authentic enough" enough? Is the audience being deprived of a proper "education," or are our expectations too high, in expecting perfection of speech from these actors, especially when many of us here likely wouldn't even be able to recognize what's authentic and what's not, in any given situation?

The writer of the article makes a comparison between "blacking-up" and actors in roles that require that they speak in an unfamiliar accent - essentially suggesting that just as black people are now "allowed" to play themselves on screen, instead of white people in black face, "accents should be left to native speakers."

In this industry, it comes down to this: Are there recognizable/bankable English-speaking Xhosa actors, and English-speaking Afrikaner actors to play Mandela and François Pienaar respectively, in Invictus?

I agree that an overall appreciation of a film can indeed be undermined by suspect accents; and what all this calls into discussion is the casting of "natives" in roles like the above I mentioned, instead of American Hollywood stars, if ensuring authenticity is crucial. But then that challenges one significant industry belief: that recognizable names and faces are needed in order to sell a picture - an idea with a lot of support that likely won't falter any time soon.

So, in short, expect more "suspect" accents, especially in Hollywood studio movies centered on stories about non-Americans.

On the reverse, while there have most certainly been exceptions, given how ubiquitous American/Hollywood films are all over the world, as well as music, I'd say that most non-American actors do a pretty good job mimicking North American accents.

Thoughts?


Shadow & ActNewsletter