Why can’t Hollywood get our accent right?
HOLLYWOOD has been bastardising our accent for decades.
It loves a quirky Australian character but it's becoming increasingly obvious that Hollywood is taking the piss. It's as if it's saying, "Australia, we think you're a nation of crass hicks and we want the world to know it."
Quite simply, it's cultural arrogance run amok.
Perhaps it's some kind of revenge for the Australian invasion of Tinseltown, or just a continuation of a long line of laziness. Either way, it's a cringing cultural crime.
Here is a dishonour roll of just some of Hollywood's misdemeanours.
John Lithgow: Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
In Hollywood's latest assault, the normally stellar Lithgow delivers one of THE worst Australian accents in history. Playing Rebel Wilson's long-lost dad, it's unbearably broad with flecks of cockney, the ultimate Strine cliche. Oh, and he also has a yacht named 'Fat Dingo Bitch'. Director Trish Sie has the temerity to call the accent "credible", matching Wilson's. If I were her, I wouldn't take that as a compliment.
Kate McKinnon: Rough Night (2017)
Even factoring in an element of satire, McKinnon blatantly puts a cleaver to our accent in the hen-night-gone-wrong comedy, literally serving it up with a jar of Vegemite. There's so much Kiwi in there it's as if she's been stranded on an island in the Tasman for decades.
Richard Harris: The Guns of Navarone (1961)
The Irish thespian played a no-nonsense RAAF officer with an embarrassing multinational accent wavering between Britain, America, South Africa, New Zealand, and a hint of Australia. It wouldn't be too far a stretch to assume the writers inserted the patronising line, "Squad Leader Barnsby is Australian" for clarity. And if we had any doubt afterwards, Harris says "bloody" eight times in 20 seconds. Achingly bad, it's a reminder that Hollywood has been butchering our accent for many decades.
Quentin Tarantino: Django Unchained (2012)
The director categorically murdered our accent in his cameo as an Australian miner, alongside John Jarrett and his cartoonish one that was at least authentic. The result of Tarantino's efforts was more gruff South African, and enough to make the ears bleed. Mercifully, spoiler alert, his character gets blown up with dynamite.
Meryl Streep: Evil Angels (1988)
Meryl, how could you? The most disappointing attempt at an Australian accent of all because this acting goddess usually can't put a foot wrong. In all fairness, replicating Lindy Chamberlain's quaint Aussie-meets-Kiwi inflection wouldn't have been easy. But the end result was more grating mimicry than embodiment, turning Chamberlain's iconic, tragic words, "a dingo took my baby," into a punch line. Despite the controversial accent, Streep still landed an Oscar nomination for the role.
The Simpsons: Bart vs. Australia (1995)
Of course, The Simpsons loves to lampoon, but even that factor couldn't hide the disdain the writers had for Australia. In their warped version of Australia, everyone speaks cockney so strong it's as if the whole country just alighted the convict ship. We were portrayed as dim colonial crazies who drink gargantuan cans of Foster's and call our currency "dollarydoos". Some saw humour in the episode, for others it was about as welcome as a giant boot up the bum.
Robert Downey Jr.: Natural Born Killers (1994)
Downey Jr. based his angry tabloid journalist's accent on that of veteran Australian journo Steve Dunleavy in Oliver Stone's controversial film. But where Dunleavy sounds like a typical Australian, Downey Jr. gives The Simpsons' cockneys a run for their money, crossed with one of those typically lazy interpretations of Australian that's as expansive as our wide brown land. He redeemed himself, somewhat, with a decent impersonation of Russell Crowe in Tropic Thunder (2008), but his former effort still looms large. Atrocious.
But they're not all bad ...
In fact, some Hollywood stars have done a sterling job. Special mentions to Kate Winslet for mastering Australian twice in Holy Smoke (1999) and The Dressmaker (2015), Donald Pleasence in Wake in Fright (1971), Rupert Everett in an episode of Black Mirror (2011), and Liev Schreiber in Mental (2012). And all hail Dev Patel for his authentic Aussie accent in Lion (2016). The actor reportedly spent eight months working on it, and scored an Oscar nomination for his trouble.
Hollywood, for the sake of Australian ears everywhere, I beg of you, please take note.