Move Over Cary Elwes–You’re Not the Only Bad Accent In Town

Some of you may remember that we here at MTVMPB do, on occasion, hand out our own awards for the less-recognized aspects of film and television.  Things that even Mtv Movie Awards doesn’t bother to recognize.  These awards have nothing to do with new releases–any work is eligible whenever we damn well make it so.  On the list of elements we choose to recognize is the “Worst American Accent”–an award meant to honor those from outside the US who try–and utterly fail–to imitate one of our many native accents.

We usually refer to this as the “Cary Elwes Award” as his work in Twister was what inspired this particular category.  While he still reigns as the only winner in the Feature Film sub-category, we are honored to finally recognize another outstandingly bad attempt to sound American, this time in the sub-category of “Miniseries.”

A truly realistic Southern drawl may be something easily conjured for the purposes of a quick, mocking comedic impression, however the convincing level of execution needed for a dramatic miniseries is far more of a challenge.  After all, Southern accents come in so many subtle variations from sweet seductive drawl of a Georgia peach, to the piquant twang of Central Texas, it’s no wonder that so many fail in the attempt to pull this off.

But few have failed in a manner as epic as Miranda Otto in the BBC miniseries The Way We Live Now.

Holy.  Shitballs.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re Miranda Otto fans around here.  She rocked the Rohan thing when she played everyone’s favorite shieldmaid, Eowyn in the Lord of the Rings films.  Sure, we wanted to see more with her and Faramir in the Houses of Healing, but we were all pretty damn happy to cheer at “I am no man!” when she sent that Nazgul back to meet his maker.  And, beyond that, she was also great in comedies like Danny Deckchair.  Seeing her name in the opening credits for this miniseries seemed like a fantastic sign for what lay ahead.

Until she opened her mouth.

Oh, for the love of all that is holy.

It’s clear it’s supposed to be Southern, but it’s so fake, so generically over-the-top that it is literally painful to hear.  And it’s sad, because the character to which she’s attaching this audiological abomination is actually an interesting character (two words: pistol. packing.).  The acting is great, it’s just that the accent with which the lines are delivered completely throws one out of the moment.  And also, it makes me feel….bad.

Which is why it deserves an award.  If it’s going to be that awful, we’re going to turn it into something positive by pinning an honor on it.  Woohoo!

So, for “Worst American Accent in a Miniseries” we salute Miranda Otto.  Now go find the vocal coach who trained you on that and pinch him/her on the arm.  Hard.

In Recognition of Butchered American Accents…

I have some great friends who hail from the UK, and I love them dearly, but one too many times I’ve been subjected to these friends, and some mere acquaintances, railing about American actors who don British accents for a part and fail miserably in the ears of anyone native.  It’s not that I don’t agree, but the rant is a little old hat at this point.  Yes, we Americans suck at British accents, we’ll never understand the subtleties and complexities and we ought to be heartily ashamed.

But, my dear friends across the pond, I-35 runs North AND South ’cause y’all suck just as much at getting American accents down pat.  I’ve heard the evidence.

Knowing that recognizing the bi-lateral nature of the situation will never be enough to actually end the ranting, we at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter have opted, instead, to recognize those from outside the US who attempt to emulate one of our numerous accents and fail miserably.  If we can’t stop the butchering, we might as well celebrated it!

The benchmark for this failure was one we identified years ago.  While watching Twister we couldn’t help but cringe at Cary Elwes’ attempt at, well, we think he was trying to do a Southern drawl, but the jury’s still out.  It was obviously supposed to be some variant of a US accent, but instead it came off as what it was:  a British guy trying to do an American accent.  It grated on the ears and totally threw whatever suspended disbelief I had in the movie (which was admittedly very little) right into the swirling vortex of the CGI-tornado on screen.  I’m not sure if this was meant to be some form of payback for American actors butchering accents over the years, or if it was just an example of how hard it is to really capture the dialect of a place you’ve never lived.

It takes guts to stink up an accent that much in front of so many, and for this, recognition is order.  For” The Worst American Accent in a Feature Film”, our inaugural winner is Cary Elwes in Twister.  Congratulations.  Now, never try to be southern again, sir.