Accents … Especially the Colloquial Ones

I think it would be no surprise to anyone if I said that I was a Game of Thrones fan. So I won’t say it. Instead, I’ll flash forward through the sentences were I point out what I love about the show and the actors and get to the point B or the real matter of the blog post: accents. Specifically, how badly one can cringe when beloved actors try their darnedest to copy beloved accents.

I submit two pieces of evidence: (1) The Book of Love and (2) Brimstone. Now, according to Youtube these are 2017 movies and I have only seen their trailers. Yet, I believe it is a strong enough example to use. The trailers are strong examples of beloved actors using not so beloved accents.

The Book of Love features Game of Thrones Actress Maisie Williams. Considering her and the entire portion of Game of Thrones actors who have to mimic Sean Bean’s Northern English Accent I would say she generally has an ear and skill for accents. But even for a skilled actress like Maisie Williams crossing international water can prove to signal an issue for the desired accent.

In the movie, The Book of Love, the actress is made to forgo her natural South-West English accent for a true homegrown Southern accent. The result is an awful bastardization of a beloved colloquial accent. Yes, the remark is harsh, but it is very true. And by saying it I truly don’t mean to insult Maisie Williams. She is a talented actress who was either met with the issue of a miscast or a cruel decision by all of her co-workers on not informing her accent was so horrendously awful you can’t even laugh about it. The result is not just people unjustly insulting her acting skills, but the ruining of a movie that could of had potential.

A bad accent is like a nail hammered in the ear of a local. Bloody awful. That mess ruins the whole entertainment process, and then gets turned back on the actress.

My second example, Brimstone, features another Game of Thrones Actor I think is faced with the same problem, Kit Harrington. He only appeared in the trailer for a brief second and it was enough to make me cry. Putting aside the fact that every time I see him I can only see Jon Snow the accent itself made me want to hit my head into a wall. A talented actor completed ruined by the sound of someone hammering a nail in my ears.

I’m from South Florida and so I only have an slight Southern accent to what can other wise be considered the mutated colloquialism of South Florida pronunciation (thank you New Yorkers and Cubans for making us confused), but even I get hit hard when I hear the words I use so off. It makes me think that there is an unconscious parody of how I speak or enunciate.

To make matters worse, Brimstone was supposed to be in the Old American West. As an American my first thought then becomes shouldn’t of he had a Midwestern accent? There are ones safer and easier to use then a distinct Southern accent for an English actor. Although something like that choice probably isn’t the fault of the actor, but of the directors of the movie itself, it is still a MAJOR PROBLEM. Using the wrong accent for the wrong location is like saying we won’t hammer in a nail, but a cutip will still be pushed in too deep! There’s no blood, so it’s all good y’all.

Using the wrong accent can really ruin the entertainment process. It affects the entire production from how a story is received and how a character (or the actor) is viewed. There shouldn’t be an occasion when letting the actor know they need to work on accent or aren’t fit for a role because of their accent be a problem. If we are willing to seek perfection on casting by looks, mannerisms or politics then seeking perfection by accent shouldn’t be so inconsistent.

Everyone in every profession has limitations. In fact, expanding your skills beyond your national maritime borders is not an easy process for most people. There’s no reason to feel bad or insulted by not having the skills. Please, just don’t take the acting job without it. Polish your skills first.

Some of us don’t want to criticize you for such a mistake when we know you are talented…. But if you butcher how we speak that badly it becomes SUPER HARD not to get upset.

I love my accent. I don’t mind that my slight drawl sometimes makes me accidentally trip on my words like I’m lost in thought. It’s a part of me. Seeing it so badly done is just making me feel like that part of me is a joke.

And no one wants to feel like they are joke,

I.L. Knight

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Onomatopoeia – John Prine

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