Simpsons tribute episode

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Marguerite, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We just had screened here, an episode of Simpsons where they talked about the show, rather than screened an episode. It was very interesting. But they also talked about how they have offended people in other countries.

    Yeah, I can see that.

    They mentioned the Australian episode among ones which offended people from that country. Well, speaking from my own perspective (as well as what I understand from my kids) - it wasn't how we were depicted that was offensive. No, it was the really bad attempt at Aussie accents!

    It's interesting - Aussies can do accents from other countries a lot better, than a lot of people can do an Aussie accent. But there are some US and British stars who have in their time done some perfect Aussie accents. Back in 1969 there was a movie called "The Age of Consent" which starred James Mason and Helen Mirren, both playing Australians. And they got the accents perfectly. Interestingly, it was the first thing I saw Helen Mirren in, she played a 15 year old who posed nude for an artist (James Mason) and she was mostly nude in the film. It was based on a book by an Aussie artist & writer, Norman Lindsay, and it was fairly autobiographical.

    Meryl Streep's accent in "Evil Angels" was not purely an Aussie accent, it was actually a composite with some NZ in it as well. Deliberately so, because the person the character was based on (Lindy Chamberlain) had exactly that same composite accent.

    So send us up as much as you want - but get our accent right!

  2. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I haven't watched the Simpsons in a long time but I'll have to watch for that episode.

    And if anyone could get an accent right, it's Meryl Streep! She's a genius at it! And it escapes me right now, but I think that movie was under a different name when it was shown in the States. I remember the movie very well, but I think the title was different here.
  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    On the other hand, my mother is British and says that if one more person asks her if she's from Australia, she's going to SCREAM!!

    She's been in this country for over fifty years and has lost a lot of her accent to my ears, but apparently not to strangers'.

    I consider myself a bi-lingual English speaker as I can speak both American English (with a Chicago accent), and British English (my mother insisted I learn to speak "properly").

    I found that while living in Europe, many English speakers there found British English much easier to understand. When European students take the required English courses in school, they are not taught in American English.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Accents are very interesting to me. When tired I sound FAR more southern/western than I do the rest of the time. If I visit a place for more than a week or so I pick up bits of the accent accidentally. It was bad as a kid. people thought I did it on purpose and I got LOTS of teasing for it. But I couldn't hear it at all. I spent 10 days with a college friend and her parents barely spoke English. I came back to college still unable to speak a word of spanish but with quite an accent. I was able to hear it on the language tapes at the Spanish lab, but only there.

    Part of the whole accent process is through the part of your brain that handles hearing, not just speech. Mine is messed up and this is one symptom, though not a common thing.

    I can still remember the way Kevin Costner lapsed in and out of his BAD accent in the Robin Hood movie. He really should have either used the accent or not used it. Doing both was bad. But sometimes it sounded like a different accent totally. Which made it much, much worse.

    I am sorry people keep messing up your accent!
  5. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    My husband tended to pick up accents through his skin (he also picked up languages like that). It came in handy in his theater days though I used to have to poke him in the ribs and remind him to drop the dratted TN accent when we were visiting up in Chicago.

    It made family insane. They thought he was trying to be "cute" when he wasn't really even aware of what he was doing.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    When I was a kid, Australia was afflicted with what we called the "cultural cringe". We were collectively ashamed of our "poor cousin" label and felt a need to put England on a pedestal. Anyone who wanted to achieve more, would go to England to work. We had to be taught to speak "Educated Australian" which resembled a BBC announcer. If you were an Aussie who wanted to do better in life, you had your kids taught elocution. In fact a lot of schools, private schools especially, had elocution lessons in the curriculum.

    I was one kid who was taught elocution ("Speech and Drama") which I was too good at; for years I was mocked at school for "talking posh". It took me years to learn how to sound "ocker" (like Russell Crowe). I've now moved back to my earlier "posh" style now I'm no longer working with "blokes". I had to sound like one of the boys, so I ockered up well.

    But we can always tell the difference between a British accent and an Aussie one. In fact, like "Pygmalion" by G B S Shaw, we can 'hear' the difference between the different British accents and often place a person's origins by their accent.

    I agree that a British accent is one of the easiest to understand - and yet when Dr Catherine Hamlin was on Oprah (talking about the Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia), her beatifully clear British accent was SUBTITLED! I've watched Oprah at times and had difficulty understanding the occasionally really strong country US accent.

    I also find accents fascinating. easy child 2/difficult child 2's acting aims led her to buy a popular book for serious Aussie actors called "Speaking American". It's an interesting book; it comes with a CD of vocal exercises but is aimed at teaching Australians how to speak with the US accent most preferred by casting agents in the US. Seriously - this will be the book used by the likes of Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe, Simon Baker etc. But it gives fascinating history into the development of the US accent in various regions. It's interesting - the US accent in a lot of places, and the Aussie accent in a lot of places both originated with a lot of Irish influence, but because the timing was subtly different and because of the other influences, it has gone in different directions.

    I think the film name in the US was "Cry in the Dark". I'm trying to look it up on IMDB but they've changed their website so it's really clunky at the moment.

  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    That's it, Marg! It was "A Cry in the Dark" ... I'm a little slow today!

    They would have a hard time pinning down an "American" accent because there are so many regional things, and even not all southern accents are the same. After living in the south for so long, my Missouri cousins sound strangely 'Midwest' to me, although many years ago I probably sounded like that myself. And there's not one standard "southern" accent either. People in Tennessee sound completely different from my sister in law's family in S. Carolina, and those in Texas or Louisana have their own styles too. And I can almost tell just by listening if someone is from the Atlanta, GA area. And after living in the South for so long, I can tell immediately if an actor is trying to 'fake' a southern accent ... except for maybe Meryl Streep and she's the undisputed queen of accents!
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The way the book describes it, there actually is a "generic American" which they shorthand to "GenAm" which US casting agents generally scout for. If there is a role coming up which requires a regional US "dialect" then Aussie actors are advised to learn GenAm first and go to the regional dialect from there.

    And since we got this book, I've been taking note of the greatly increasing number of Aussie actors going to the US and succeeding there. This book will be a big factor in the success. We were put onto it via various connections to Actors Equity, easy child 2/difficult child 2 is a member. It really is the Aussie actor's guidebook to working successfully in the US. So when I listen to an Aussie actor using a US accent in the states, I am using my ear trained in childhood plus my knowledge of this book, to "listen" for the lessons.

    I used to act with a US accent when I was in my teens. In fact I picked up the accent so thoroughly that I had a tough time shaking it. I'd have to really study the book these days to get back to it.

    Accents (technically we should refer to them as dialects) also change with time. If you watch old movies or listen to old radio serials (in any country) you will notice how different people sound. Old newsreels are especially enlightening because they have filmed real people and how they talked.

    Actors who got the work were the ones whose voices we heard. People would learn the dialects they needed in order to get work - Anthony LaPaglia is a good example there. Australian-born, he was an adult when he went to the US to work. I'm not sure if he studied "Speaking American", I think it came out after he made his move. But he would be open about his Aussie origins and he never got work, directors would always say, "Oh yes, I can still hear that little bit of Australian in there," and pass him up for the role.
    So one day he went in for an audition. "Where are you from?" the director asked.
    "The Bronx," he replied.
    He got the job.

    And now if he is in a film in Australia ("Balibo" was his most recent) he has to actually put back on an Australian accent.
    Gia Carides, his wife, generally speaks with her original Aussie accent but can use whatever. She's Greek-Australian which is why she was so darn good as Nicki in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Her sister is an actress also (Zoe Carides). Zoe was in "The Black Balloon" with our kids, although we didn't get to talk to her.

    Whether you call them accents or dialects, they are very interesting.

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I know exactly what you're talking about! I can't stand some of the American accents I hear out of the Brits. The only one I have consistently heard it right from is Hugh Laurie. There are a few others, but when they use that long drawn out nasal A and hard N it just grates!
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I couldnt believe it the first time I heard Hugh Laurie speak out of character. I was dumbfounded. Same way with Simon Baker. I am a huge Mentalist fan but I cannot stand seeing him in those awful thick black rimmed He is so much cuter in the contacts!

    Donna is so right about the accents here. You would have to know accents for every state and sometimes every region in every state. When we heard Kellie Pickler sing on Idol..we knew without a doubt where she was from...NC...and we knew which part of NC. You can hear my son and know he is from Lumberton because he speaks Lumbeze.
  11. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Hugh Laurie has it down pat! Simon from the mentalist, though, his accent peeks through. He's not as good as Hugh.

    And though I love him, Gerard just sounds awful as anything other than Scottish. His Irish accent was pitiful and his American Accent is blah. I think the movies that he's in should just let him speak that beautiful Scottish voice and be done with it. No explanation would be needed. I would just melt in my seat.