Why do evil characters have British accent?
In American movies or TV shows, most evil characters have British accent.
"Stewie" the creepy baby in <the Family Guy>
"Scar" in <the Lion King>
"Tai Lung" in <the Kung Fu Panda>
They all have the British accent.
Why do so many evil charcters in the movies have British accent?
Does British accent sound evil to Americans?
Do British TV shows make their evil characters have American accent?
I've never really thought about it, but you're right, the villain often has a British accent.
It's because a Received Pronunciation British accent or Mid-Atlantic accent is associated with people who are aristocratic and powerful, and the evil characters tend to have all the power over the little guy. A common plot in a movie is that the little guy triumphs over the evil villain. Notice it is very uncommon for the villain to be the powerless one and the "good guy" to be very powerful--it just wouldn't make a good movie. It's not that a British (RP) accent sounds evil, it just enables them to make a class distinction between the characters, that is not possible to do with American accents--as there is no aristocratic accent in the US besides the Boston Brahmin accent, which most Americans can't distinguish from a British accent anyway. Most American accents are regional rather than class based.
There was once a time when the UK was the most powerful entity on earth, and a scrappy, ragtag nation called America (yes, America, deal with it Chileans) did something or other. Hence, all the evil characters in American movies that have to be overcome by the underdog are British, despite the situation being a little different these days.
The reverse was the case in "Extreme Measures" with Hugh Grant as the protagonist against Gene Hackman.
RP sounds cold, distant, therefore it is often associated with something unpleasant. Alexis Colby used RP on Dynasty LOL
It's an old convention that dates back to vaudeville, I think. It's quite possible that this stereotype is 100 years old.
I think the important thing isn't really the accent, it's the image of a certain kind of poshness that the accent is merely a part of, which was used to contrast with the typical hero, an ordinary working-class citizen.
It's sheer Holywood prejudice.....the producers obviously still think the War for Independnce from the (evil) British is still ongoing. It's not just the villains who are given British accents...usually a creepy kind of English English half way between Oxford and East End Hackney. Any butler or any type of "high class" domestic servile individual shown in American settings seems to have a sort of "posh" English English accents but often riddled with flaws.
If you look at some of those very old black and white films, made and filmed in California by the Americans, but supposedly set in England or the UK generally, are bursting with ridiculous misconceptions and glaring errors. One such film was "Mrs Miniver", the setting of which was a quaint little village in WW2 Southern England. Everybody spoke with a grotesque Hollywood version of British English, and the landscape was anything but English...it cried out California, USA...with sun drenched, dried up scrubland instead of lush, verdant English meadows...the whole fim was a laughable interpretation of the English English scene of that particular time in history. In addition, the Hollywood version of the "resolute, defiant British stiff upper lip in the face of adversity and suffering in the face of horrific enemy bombardment" did seem just a wee bit exaggerated and OTT, but apparently it did raise morale on this side of the Atlantic at the time as people here went through the horrors of all out total war.
>> It's sheer Holywood prejudice.....the producers obviously still think the War for Independnce from the (evil) British is still ongoing <<
What utter rubbish. It has absolutely nothing to do with American Independence. Canadian films do the same. It is simply how an upper-class English accent is perceived by North Americans. (Notice the villain rarely has a Cockney accent, or a broad New York accent--that would make him sound comical) And why would it have to be done perfectly? It's hard for actors to learn to do a convincing accent--it can take as long as learning a different language, and why would it be necessary? It's just a matter of suspending your disbelief while watching the film.
As the other posters have noted, there's a pervasive cliché in Hollywood that villains have an RP accent.
"Everybody spoke with a grotesque Hollywood version of British English, and the landscape was anything but English...it cried out California, USA."
Actually, Damian, Greer Garson was 100% English.
By the way, I LOVED that movie.
<<And why would it have to be done perfectly? It's hard for actors to learn to do a convincing accent--it can take as long as learning a different language, and why would it be necessary? >>
I would prefer the accent to be convincing for a few reasons. 1) Americans already have a terrible reputation abroad for being linguistically inept. Let's not perpetuate that notion. 2) Because their actors and convincing us is their job and they're paid weel for it. The fact that it's hard is no excuse. Why is it important to get the emotions and the dialogue right but not the accent? It doesn't make sense. 3) It's distracting when the accent is way off. Think of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Popins. His accent is so bad you can't watch the film because you're too busy cringing.
And I think Damien is right about this. Ok, so maybe Canadian films have the same predisposition for castign bad guys with RP accents (although I can't think of any off the top of my head), but Damien's point is that whether you're talking about a Toronto film company or Hollywood, on this side of the Atlantic, there's a substantial part of the population that perceives RP speakers as cold, calculating and possibly cruel. Think QE2.
-can't watch the film-
which film, Kodak or Fuji?
Those films are made for Americans. The producers don't really care if 0.1% of the audience recognises slight flaws in the accents. It's not worth the trouble. Only a really pretentious fool would not watch the film because the accent was a little off.
<<Those films are made for Americans. The producers don't really care if 0.1% of the audience recognises slight flaws in the accents. It's not worth the trouble. Only a really pretentious fool would not watch the film because the accent was a little off.>>
I'm not talking about the accent being "a little" off. I'm talking about "Dick Van Dyke-in-Mary-Poppins" off. Are you really making the argument that if the film is made for Americans it's ok to have sloppy work in lieu of retaining the services of a dialect coach? I'm American and I certainly don't want to watch something that looks and sounds like it was thrown together by a first year film student on a low budget.
Some directors will actually go around to each extra and instructed them on the conversations they will be having in the background, for example in a restaurant scene where the extras are sitting at tables around the main characters. In such scenes, the voices of the extras are not heard. But if the extras are discussing an actual subject as opposed to just moving their mouths and gesturing with their hands, the entire scene becomes more authentic. Even an American audience responds to authenticity and some directors understand this. The difference is that the older films were made in a time when the average American had never heard an actual British person speak and had no baseline for comparison. Now that the world is a smaller place audiences pick up on a lack of authenticity and it distracts from the experiences. I agree with you that slight flaws are forgivable, but glaring flaws reflect sloppy filmmaking and people will notice. Even Americans.