Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Nina Simone Bio Starring Zoe Saldana Will Apparently Be Released Later This Year... The Nina Simone Bio Starring Zoe Saldana Will Apparently Be Released Later This Year... Why ‘The View’ Badly Needs Raven-Symoné Why ‘The View’ Badly Needs Raven-Symoné It's Black Bike Week! Watch 2 Short Documentaries on the Popular Annual Event It's Black Bike Week! Watch 2 Short Documentaries on the Popular Annual Event Gabrielle Union Joins Jamie Foxx in a Race to Save His Kidnapped Son, in 'Sleepless Night' Gabrielle Union Joins Jamie Foxx in a Race to Save His Kidnapped Son, in 'Sleepless Night' Meet the Cast of FX's 'American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson' (First-Look Images) Meet the Cast of FX's 'American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson' (First-Look Images) Here's the List of Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library in June Here's the List of Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library in June Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch a Clip From Ethiopia's First-Ever Cannes "Official Selection" - Coming-of-Age Drama 'Lamb' Watch a Clip From Ethiopia's First-Ever Cannes "Official Selection" - Coming-of-Age Drama 'Lamb' Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial David Oyelowo on the Craft of Acting & Advice for Young Actors David Oyelowo on the Craft of Acting & Advice for Young Actors Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) 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? Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer 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