The funny disease.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Tale of Two Accents

To commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” and compete for black voters both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at churches in Selma, Alabama.

In her speech Hillary Clinton affected a horribly butchered Southern accent. It was so bad, I was surprised when I saw the visual records of her speech she was wearing a real belt instead of a rope, and she was not chewing on a stalk of wheat. She wasn’t even carrying a brown jug with Xs painted on it. Listen for yourself if you think I’m crazy. Her accent was really that bad.

Now, I don’t have any qualms telling Britney Spears she needs a better publicist. If there’s something at which Spears excels it is creating situations that are cries for help. And therefore, she was practically begged for my advice. But Clinton, a lawyer, a politician, a capable woman who was co-President for eight years, a woman who managed to raise a daughter who isn’t an out-of-control mental. I feel uncomfortable advising her. But if she’s going to insist on acting down-homey, and accessible she needs to add a drama coach to her entourage.

It couldn’t possibly be that she fell into a Southern accent because she used to have one. She was born and raised in a rich suburb of Chicago, Illinois. She went on to college in Massachusetts, not moving to Arkansas until she was 26 or 27, far past her formative years.

Barack Obama also adopted a Southern accent during his speech. Even though he was born Honolulu, Hawaii, and lived there and in Jakarta until college. (I’ve never been to Jakarta, but I’m reasonably certain that chances are slim that he picked up a Southern accent there.) Not that I excuse him from being a Faky Fakerton, but he affected his Southern accent with a much lighter hand.

Clinton’s twang faded in and out and was downright insulting, and I’m not even from the South. I’m sure Clinton didn’t mean to offend Southern voters by butchering a Southern accent. I’m sure it was a misstep, a miscalculation.

She must have figured that talking like an idiot worked for George W. Bush, so it could work for her. Hooked on Phonics may have worked for Bush, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right method for teaching people with a fully functioning brain to read.

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