In which British Accent = Accent

 

I’m not a math person. I mean I love math—when I get it right—and hate it when I don’t understand it, but I’ve learn a lot of things from math that I apply to my everyday life, particularly when it comes to equations. One mathematical rule that I feel will be useful in explaining my outrage in regards to the topic I’m about to discuss, is the rule of identity. This rule stipulates that a number cannot equal another number, it can only equal itself.

An example you ask?

1 =/ 2

One cannot equal 2.

1=1

One can only equal 1.

The same goes for 2, 3, 4 or any other number. I can’t look at the number 2 and say it equals 3, I can’t even imagine it because my mind would explode from how illogical even the mere idea pretending that the number 2 could equal 3 is.

So?

So this leaves me to my rant, the problem I’ve been having with a few movies and show(s) I’ve been watching. This problem is the issue of actors and directors, and well anyone involved with creating the show/movie, trying to pass off one accent as another, specifically a British accent. Yes, you see, my problem is with the equation British accent = any accent in general.

British accent=/ Accent?

I’m the kind of person who watches a lot of movies and television shows. I especially love watching period films (so if you know any good ones hit me up!) and historical dramas, or dramas that take place in tumultuous time periods throughout history (I’m a history buff as you’ll later learn).  I’ve been noticing this unsettling, and mostly lazy trend mostly in movies and occasionally in television shows.

What is this trend you ask?

Basically, it’s when a show/movie that takes place in a foreign place that’s not in England—usually in France—has characters that ALL SPEAK IN A BRITISH ACCENT!!!!

Take a minute.

Breath.

WHAAAAT!!! HOW CAN THAT EVEN—WHAT WHY I CAN’T COMPREHEND MY BRAIN DOES NOT UNDERSTAND—WHAT?

okay. okay. Let’s get to it.

*Begin rant*.

I understand. I totally understand. Accents are hard. If you suck at them, they can kind of ruin the whole experience for the movie or show because people will be cringing as they try and listen to what you have to say.

I understand.

Okay no, I don’t understand.

If your story is taking place in a foreign setting, one not colonized by the British and one that has a distinct accent or dialect associated with it, then why the freak would you have your actors speak in a BRITISH accent? It’s just lazy. Plan lazy and stupid.

Look at it this way.

So you’re trying to make a movie, and you go through all this trouble of finding the perfect location to create this foreign setting and atmosphere. You go through all the effect to get brilliant costumes, you hire dynamic and great actors and then, and then–and then instead of going the logical step and making the actors speak with a *insert local accent here*, you make them all speak in a British accent, as if just by speaking with a British accent the audience is supposed to imagine the *insert local accent*, that the characters are supposed to be talking in.

I think it’s just lazy, lazy on the actor’s parts, lazy on the director’s part and lazy on the casting director’s part. It makes the whole movie/show less immersive, especially when I hear these characters constantly referring to the place in which the story is taking place but speaking with freakin British accents. It makes these characters not characters of the time and place they are supposed to be in, it makes them just actors.

Some films/show(s) that I’ve noticed doing this include but are not limited to:

Reign (2013-)

-takes place in France yet everyone speaks with British accents!!!

-The whole British—oh did I say British I meant “French”—court speaks with British accents

The FRENCH KING, Prince Francis, his brother, everyone including the citizens speak with British accents.

-Mary, who is supposed to be Scottish also speaks with a British accent instead of a Scottish one

-I’d forgive that, considering that she’s lived in France since she was a little girl so of course she would have adopted their “French/British accents” but either way she’s still speaking with a British accent when she should have a French one!

-Mary’s ladies

-they are supposed to have come from Scotland (I believe so anyway) yet none of them have any trace of a Scottish accent. All of them speak with British ones!

-not only that but what makes it all the more confusing is that there’s an episode—episode 17—in which Scottish visitors come and help Mary. It would make sense for this ‘British accent equates to every other accent’ trend the show is going with if it wasn’t for the fact that those Scottish people actually do speak with Scottish accents. I give props to the show for at least doing that but come on! Couldn’t you at least have the actors try and speak with French accents?

-Catherine De’Medici

-I kind of understand Catherine, she’s not French she’s Italian but then where’s her freakin’ Italian accent?!

-I love you Reign, I do. You’re one of my favorite new shows on tv—I love your costumes, even if they are completely out of period—and your characters, even if they’re all good looking white people (good looking white people who can act mind you), and your story, (except for the whole darkness thing, it was kind of boring) but really did you even try? I don’t think you did.

Anna Karenina (2012)

-takes place in Russia and yet, you guessed it, everyone speaks in a British accent (I didn’t know they did that in Russia)

Kira Knightly, you are beautiful, you accent is gorgeous and your one of my favorite actresses but really, could you try, even a little bit, just please? It was probably not your fault anyway though…

Les Misérables (both the 2012 version and the 1998 version)

-takes place in  France yet all the characters—except for Thénardier on occasion (when he sang)—speak with British accents!

“Give um ‘ell” yeah, cus that’s how French people say that.

I know you didn’t even try so I’m not going to beg, though I will say I enjoyed both versions very much.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

-takes place in France but everyone whose supposedly French speaks with a British accent

-Christian is an exception of this because he is said to have come from England

I adore this movie. That is all. But still, sorry I gots to call you out on this bs Moulin Rouge. And yes I know I wrote ‘gots’.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

But Liz, the creative team wants you to imagine that the accent the actors are speaking in is the accent of the native land!

To that I say, that’s stupid! Why should I have to imagine an accent if I’m already hearing one in the first place. If I’m going to have to imagine an accent anyway, then don’t give me one in the first place! It’s like making a painting in all red, and then telling the viewer to imagine that the painting is in all blue. Just don’t use a color. I’m pretty sure I can imagine more dynamic colors anyway.

B-But you need to just take things as they are, be more open with creative decisions!

Alright, alright, let’s pretend that this isn’t completely stupid. Let’s say that I buy this whole notion that I’m supposed to ‘imagine’ an accent. Well then if that’s the case, why don’t they all just speak in an American accent huh? I mean, a lot of these shows/movies were made with an American audience in mind. Reign and Les Misérables (2012) certainly were. If we’re as an audience, we’re just supposed to accept these accents as those of the country the story takes place in, if we’re supposed to ‘imagine’ them, then why does it have to be a British accent? Why can’t we use a French accent in a film/show that supposedly takes place in England and have the audience ‘imagine’ that the actors are speaking with British accents? Or why can’t we use a German accent, or a Spanish one? Why does it have to be British? The only one of these movies/shows listed above that can get away with this is Anna Karenina since it’s supposed to be a play and all that but still, wouldn’t the actors in the play be donning Russian accents? Apparently not according to the film.

But-but-but, if you’re saying you have a problem with having to imagine an accent, then why don’t they just speak the language straight out? Aren’t you already willing to stretch your imagination as a viewer by accepting the fact that the actors are speaking “English” instead of their ‘native’ tongue/the dialect in which the story is supposed to take place?

To that I’ll say “why don’t they?!” As a viewer, personally, I am willing to watch a film/show spoken in a foreign language. I’m fine with reading subtitles, in fact, I love them! Whenever I can, I watch movies with subtitles—whether they’re spoken in English or not—just because I like them so much! Even so, despite my personal preferences, I recognize that people are lazy. Hell, I’m lazy (except when it comes to subtitles of course).

People don’t like reading subs, or even if they don’t mind them, they find them distracting when watching a movie/show. Having the characters speak English, but with an accent is just the logical sidestep over this issue. I’m willing to stretch my imagination for that but not any further, especially when it would mean accepting a British accent as something it isn’t. In my book a British accent does nothing to imply that the setting of a story takes place in France, or Germany or wherever it’s supposed to take place, or that the characters are from said regions. It implies that the characters are British, or where colonized by the British and that the setting of the story is one of these colonies or, is freakin Britain.

So?

This British accent=French accent= whatever accent is just lazy. Lazy, and annoying and stupid. It’s unnecessary and they know it. I’m sure they don’t care though and honestly, I usually just roll my eyes and make snarky comments throughout the show/movie about the lack of real accents as I watch. I still enjoy the shows/movies, but it just takes me out of the experience as a viewer.

It makes things less immersive!

When I’m watching a movie/show that’s supposed to take place in France and yet the actors speak with British accents, I know just that—I’m watching a movie/show.

Try this.

Imagine watching great movies like Gangs of New York but the Dead Rabbits all spoke with British accents instead of Irish ones, or Schindler’s List and the characters, all, guess what, spoke with British accents instead of German ones.  These things, no matter how small of a matter they may be, just take the viewer out of the experience and make the movie/show seem half baked. Like they were going to go all the way but then just, well, didn’t.

I love movies and shows.

In fact, I love all the movies and shows I mentioned here except for a few *coughcoughAnnaKareninacoughcough* and if actors and directors and casting directors are too lazy to do it right then I say just make the freakin’ show/movie take place in Britain!

In conclusion.

British Accent = Accent in general. <– this equation makes no sense. It is impossible it is irrational.

British Accent =/ Accent in general. <-yes, now this makes sense

British Accents do not equal all accents.

British Accent= British Accent.

British Accents equal British Accents. 1 =1   and 2=2 and all is right in the world again.

*Sighs* Well, that’s the end of my rant.

Below are a list of movies that do it right and that you should watch because they’re also really great (like some of the other ones in the British=Accent in General list that I mentioned! Seriously though image the characters in these movies speaking with a British accent instead! I shudder to think.

Gigi (1958)

-One of my favorite musicals is Gigi and guess what? It takes place in France but wait! Do they speak in British accents? *listens, listening, nope!* No British accented Frenchmen/woman here. Leslie Caron didn’t speak in a British accent but wait, you say she’s already French?! They can do that? They can cast a French actor to act in a French role? Who knew?  

Far and Away (1992)

-takes place in Ireland then America and guess who the lead actors are? Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and guess what accents they have throughout the film, wait, did you say, could it be, Irish accents? Yup. An American actor and an Australian one donned Irish accents for a film set in Ireland. How shocking. How wonderful.

The Young Victoria (2009)

-takes place in England, duh, young Victoria, but her German husband and his family have what? German accents. Imagine that.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Takes place in Japan and all the Japanese characters speak with Japanese accents. It’s beautiful really, how they managed to do that.

On a side note I want to mention the movie One Day. I really liked that movie but I did notice that Ann Hathaway’s accent was really off in some parts of it, but she gets a lot better in the latter parts. I admire that because hey, she tried. She tried and that effort goes a whole lot further than just being lazy and settling with not using an accent at all, or a random one.

And You?

What movies/shows have you seen where the characters are supposed to be living in a certain region but speak with a British accent, or just the wrong or no accent at all?

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3 thoughts on “In which British Accent = Accent

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