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A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fantasy Accents

A BBC article asks the question many, including myself, have often wondered: "Why are fantasy world accents always British?" Matt Zoller Seitz has a simple explanation: "A British accent is sufficiently exotic to transport the viewer to a different reality... while still being comprehensible to a global audience."

I'm not complaining, I love British accents. But I've noticed that sometimes it "fits" with a story, set of characters, and general fantasy environment (for example, I think the Medieval tone of Game of Thrones works well with its British vocalists, even though the author, George R.R. Martin, is actually American) but sometimes it just sounds like an extra gimmick, an exotic flair thrown in to distract American audiences from cheap costumes, campy sets, and bad acting.

George R.R. Martin agrees that the British accent lends itself well to many stories set in the Middle Ages as they are "full of castles and lords and swords and knights and all the other trappings that we associate with England in this country. It seems natural. It would be hard to do with a group of actors who had thick Southern accents." Brian Wheeler points out the the British accent's dominance has spread to include other geographic areas too, such as inSpartacus and HBO's Rome series. But in contrast, when popular shows are set in modern times (like House or The Wire), British actors are instructed to speak in American dialects. It's one of those interesting bits of modern culture; more subliminal messaging coming from the television networks.

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