Date: Sat, 12 Mar 1994 20:18:12 CST From: Mike Picone Subject: Re: Actors & Accent The subject of actors & accents has become more intriguing to me since transplanting to the South. While it is true that when Meryl Streep tries to imitate a Polish accent, for example, there are relatively few people, other than linguists, who are listening while undertaking meta-accentual monitoring, this is not true when it comes to the portrayal of Southern speech habits. Untold numbers of Southerners are, despite themselves, very much aware of the artificiallity that, for them, is injected into a film when non-Southerners attempt to mimic their speech. Hollywood, and America in general, often give the impression that the South is a forgotten audience. So accents will conform to Northern stereotypes of what constitutes Southern speech, especially when, as is so often the case, the white "Southerner" is to be the clown, villain, village idiot, rabid Bible thumper or whatever. I remember thinking to myself during the last presidential election, that NPR's occasional derisive use of the term "bubba vote" made it clear that condescension towards the (white) South was not considered a PC faux pas. True, "bubba" does not have quite the same negative force as do "redneck" and various racial slurs, but it was clearly less than respectful. NPR commentators were not sensitive to this and seemingly shared the perenniel blind-spot that prevails in American media when it comes to the South. Going back to the question of stereotyped accents, am I right in assuming that American Revolution films have it all backwards? Instead of giving British RP accents to the Colonial Americans, it's some of the British who should be speaking with what would be perceived today to be an American accent. Mike Picone University of Alabama