Southern Accents

Here's a P.S. to my question about actors pulling off American accents. What's the hang-up on Southern accents? If you lived your life only through the movies and TV shows you watched, you'd be convinced that everyone in the South has a Southern accent. And when I mean a Southern accent, I mean a Suuthhhen accent.

Over the weekend, I took in a viewing of The Prestige. Aussie Hugh Jackman perfectly pulled off an American accent in his role, but Andy Serkis came across as a stereotypical Hollywood Suthhhen dude. Yes, I'm talking about the guy who acely portrayed Gollum and Martin Hannett. Serkis's accent as Mr. Alley in The Prestige frequently caught me off guard and I remembered a conversation I had with Jason the day before.

Jason saw Ghost Rider and I asked about the Southern accents in the characters. According to him, the kind of drawl you hear in so many movies is on wide display in Ghost Rider. As fellow Texans, we're still at a loss for why this accent seems to be mocked by actors and Hollywood in general.

I've met a few people over the years that have the proto-hick voice. A roommate I had in college had it down pat. My sister's voice had a noticeable change after she spent some time living in Lubbock. But in my time as a Texan, the hick drawl is not as common as you'd think. I've been a Southerner all my life and nobody has been led to believe I was one. Even though my parents were both born in Texas, I've been asked if I'm from the Northeast region of the United States.

There was an SNL sketch a few years ago spoofing the filming of Cold Mountain. With guest host (and native Texan) Renee Zellweger reprising her role as Ruby, the joke was how overblown Southern accents can be portrayed by non-Southerners. Fellow co-stars Jude Law and Nicole Kidman seemed to take a page out of the Gone With the Wind-like melodramatic tone. The more melodramatic, the funnier it was.

So what gives? Are non-natives always thinking people who live in the old Confederate states talk with that noticeable drawl? Is the stereotype too obvious to pass up?


J said…
Hmmm...I've never been anywhere in the south except Texas, and then only to San Antonio, but I never really noticed much accent. I always assume the folks in the movies with the hick-cent are from Alabama or that wrong of me?
Eric Grubbs said…
That's a safe assumption. :-)