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A place for you to post comments on our articles.
74

The Coming of "Geisha"
Topic by: JGereben
Posted: December 8, 2005 - 5:03 PM PST
Last Reply: December 16, 2005 - 11:04 AM PST

page  1  2  3  4      prev | next
author topic: The Coming of "Geisha"
Eoliano
post #41  on December 13, 2005 - 3:15 PM PST  
> Nuttin' Uncle! But if the King's English with the veddy veddy upper crusty accent is an oft-used convention, I should also like to point out that in countries that were more recent crown colonies than the US it's also reality, in that the HIGHLY educated segment of society (or the upper class, take your pick) that affectation still often prevails.

No need to convince me, it's those other upstarts who need an education! I mean really, I studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama! Me, a bloody Yank!

> Wow! I would just like to say, if anyone actually cares, that this isn't what I said or what I meant.

Pinch of salt, anyone?
dpowers
post #42  on December 13, 2005 - 3:25 PM PST  
here'n i thought the romans all spake cambridge because romans mostly like to play shakespeare games.
pooja
post #43  on December 13, 2005 - 3:36 PM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 3:09 PM PST ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Wow! I would just like to say, if anyone actually cares, that this isn't what I said or what I meant.

Then explain "And in any case I am so sick of Romans who speak the king's english. These details really do matter. To me, at least." Why does that convention nauseate you so much? HOW do those details REALLY matter to you? If you watch a bunch of Bollywood films, it will become very obvious how "regular" Indians speak English with what you probably think of as the "Apu sort" of accent, while the super-rich and the super-educated speak like they've spent all their afternoons having tea with the Queen. Really it's a handy short-hand for characterization if the actual accents spoken in the dialogue is secondary to the plot of the film (if it's not about class friction, for example).

And how would YOU have the Roman aristocracy speak? With a Boston brahmin sort of accent? With a Northern Italian sort of accent as opposed to a Southern Italian sort of accent?
woozy
post #44  on December 13, 2005 - 5:59 PM PST  
> And how would YOU have the Roman aristocracy speak? With a Boston brahmin sort of accent? With a Northern Italian sort of accent as opposed to a Southern Italian sort of accent?
> ---------------------------------

You do make some very valid points, pooja. I was actually paraphrasing a critique I had read once from a source I have since forgotten. My source argued what I argued (additional romans (villains and secondary characters) =oppressive tyrants= british accents; the slaves, heros, and sympathetic romans (protagonists) = american accents) and didn't consider, as I hadn't, the aristocracy of the english-speaking world.

Both sides are defendable but keep in mind these conventions do not always pertain to class.
pooja
post #45  on December 13, 2005 - 6:17 PM PST  
That's because Americans are a little afraid to bring up "class"... I think there was a PBS documentary about that. Either way, how about the convention that the Senators and Generals speak with Oxbridge accents, but the common soldiers speak in Cockney? Doesn't THAT also make you and ahogue feel like puking? Or is the answer "no" because that convention doesn't bring Americans into it?
Battie
post #46  on December 13, 2005 - 6:20 PM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 3:05 PM PST pooja wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On December 13, 2005 - 2:00 PM PST Eoliano wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > Sheesh! Wattsa a matta you?
>
> Nuttin' Uncle! But if the King's English with the veddy veddy upper crusty accent is an oft-used convention, I should also like to point out that in countries that were more recent crown colonies than the US it's also reality, in that the HIGHLY educated segment of society (or the upper class, take your pick) that affectation still often prevails. For example, in Parineeta which is set in Calcutta in the 1960's, the English spoken by the wealthy is British accented. So outside of the US, having the Romans speak with the King's English would seem rather natural... not realizing that and complaining about it only serves to show how ignorant, jingoistic, and narrow-minded Americans are about the rest of the world. Just because you don't know how a certain segment of certain socio-economic classes in various countries around the world attended British schools at some point, you assume that this is just a dumb convention that you find irritating. You want the rest of the world to just conform to your standards... you make no attempt to see films from abroad from THAT society's point of view. I think you should at least try, even if that country is an English speaking one (England, Australia, Hong Kong, India, etc.) instead of just assuming that since they're English-speaking they should naturally just fall in line with America.
> ---------------------------------

Thank you, Pooja. For the Americans here who couldn't care one way or another about British accents, your comments have certainly straightened us out. It's always nice to be insulted on a generalization and not on my own merits every now and then. :)

As for the Roman argument...perhaps it's just offensive to some Americans that the upper-class and rich Romans in our movies have a British accent while the lower-class and poor Romans have an American accent. The assumption behind that being that we're all still an uneducated lot. (In reality, I'm willing to bet British students get a better primary education than American students, but that's neither here nor there.) Just as you can apparently be offended by Apu's funky accent because of the assumptions behind it, so can we. But, to be honest, I've never really noticed or cared about the accents. It was how well they spoke that mattered (ie, rich=educated speaking, poor=uneducated speaking).

Geisha, on the other hand...well, the trailer was weird. To have one of the Chinese Geishas speak with a perfect American accent and another speak with a Chinese accent in English just gave the whole thing a strange feel.
woozy
post #47  on December 13, 2005 - 6:22 PM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 1:54 PM PST pooja wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Oh I bet you laugh every time Apu Nahasapeemapetilon opens his mouth in The Simpsons... Actually, if you all think Asians pronounce Star Wars "Staru Waru" you really don't know ANYTHING about authentic accents anyway...
> :-p
> ---------------------------------

Pooja, do I need to chide you for a *third* time about how rude I consider assuming another's reactions or thoughts to a hypothetical situation to be?

Before you criticize someone for laughing at Apu and think Asians mispronounce "Star Wars", you have to varify that someone actually *does* laugh at apu and think Asians mispronounce "Star Wars". I'm not saying we don't; just that it's very unfair and underhanded to put someone into a hypothetical speculation of one's own creation.



Eoliano
post #48  on December 13, 2005 - 7:45 PM PST  
Simply put, upper and lower class characters in British theatrical productions of classic works are usually defined by their accents to reflect their social status, and therein lies the root of this argument.
woozy
post #49  on December 13, 2005 - 7:49 PM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 7:45 PM PST Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Simply put, upper and lower class characters in British theatrical productions of classic works are usually defined by their accents to reflect their social status, and therein lies the root of this argument.
> ---------------------------------


And likewise foreigners are defined by theirs.
pooja
post #50  on December 13, 2005 - 9:57 PM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 6:22 PM PST woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Pooja, do I need to chide you for a *third* time about how rude I consider assuming another's reactions or thoughts to a hypothetical situation to be?

woozy, you are altogether too paternalistic and condescending, with your little scoldings and chidings. You're NOT the appointed pooja minder here... it's not like I'm your "naughty little girl" or something so just shove it! You just disguise your own rudeness by pretending to be aloof and above it all. There's nothing hypothetical about "Staru Waru" except in your own delusion of superiority... it's right there in JGereben's first post. As for Apu, has anyone ever made fun of you for your accent? It's very frustrating when Americans seem to judge you for one's skin tone or the way one speaks. To me, this whole thread has a political slant that perhaps white Northern Californians are blind to. It's not like we can help having the accent that we're raised with (well, if you work at it you can get rid of it, but why should we have to?) or the color of skin we're born with. So the three Chinese women in the Geisha film have accents that vary... but it's probably a range that falls within the range of accents that you would hear if you heard a bunch of people trying to speak English in China or Japan. It's not like Gong Li is doing a Swedish accent and Ziyi Zhang is doing a Texas drawl. But you all seem to be taking the position that accents really matter a lot. It actually makes ahogue sick to hear it. And then you jump on me for pointing out that outside of this country, maybe it doesn't matter so much.

> Before you criticize someone for laughing at Apu and think Asians mispronounce "Star Wars", you have to varify that someone actually *does* laugh at apu

What is "varify"? If you mean verify, I certainly have plenty of PERSONAL DIRECT experience that people laugh at Apu and others with similar accents. Actually, I think on the Simpsons Apu is quite funny, but that's because I understand that the portrayal is not any more mean spirited than how the show treats all ethnic groups, brown, white and bright yellow.

> and think Asians mispronounce "Star Wars".

See JGereben's review, first post in this thread.

> I'm not saying we don't; just that it's very unfair and underhanded to put someone into a hypothetical speculation of one's own creation.

What, you think I'm making this all up? Have you actually read this whole thread from the beginning?
pooja
post #51  on December 13, 2005 - 10:11 PM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 7:49 PM PST woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> And likewise foreigners are defined by theirs.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. To you Americans, foreigners are defined by their accents. I'm not putting words in your mouths, YOU are saying it yourself! My own experience is that furthermore races are defined here by their skin color and eye shape. Do you think I want to be DEFINED by my accent? My accent is a part of me, yes, but I wouldn't say it's the part that DEFINES me. Are the actresses' performances DEFINED by their accents? Well, maybe they are, but maybe not. I tend not to judge a performance by the accent, unless it's REALLY awful (eg. if Zhang Ziyi spoke like she was from Texas, as per my example above, or if her accent kept coming and going). To me it sounds like a cheap shot.
dpowers
post #52  on December 13, 2005 - 11:38 PM PST  
now i'm starting to wish i had a cute accent.

hey look it's a part of the modern american foundation, the variety of ways that people speak english here and how it doesn't relate directly to class. for ages europeans and asians have been coming here stumbling through english to try selling people things or gasp participating in politics. for instance california's (muscle-)head(-ed) honcho. the presence of south asians is virtually the first time a population that speaks english at home has arrived looking for work without family connections. people don't understand that south asian english isn't just another ESL experiment gone horribly wrong.
woozy
post #53  on December 13, 2005 - 11:47 PM PST  
Pooja,

ahougue: Personally, I've always found the use of accents standing in for foreign languages really annoying, especially when the accents are not consistent.

Forgive me if I misunderstood, but I took this to refer to the tendency of actors adapting accents, that are not their own, as a way to indicate that the are not supposed to be speaking english (even though the are). e.g. You can tell that the american actor speaking in English is supposed to be speaking German because he is speaking with a German accent.

ahogue (again): And in any case I am so sick of Romans who speak the king's english. These details really do matter. To me, at least.

Again, forgive me if I miss understood, but I took this to mean actors of all nationality and accents adapting king's english solely to indicate that you can tell it *is* Latin because is is in an English accent.

... discussion of how this may be an indication of recognizing the class of the speaker and not nescessarily the nationality of the speaker.

Eoliano (diplomatic/referree/to the point):
Simply put, upper and lower class characters in British theatrical productions of classic works are usually defined by their accents to reflect their social status, and therein lies the root of this argument.


woozy: And likewise foreigners (on stage) are defined by theirs.

My point of that statement was to return to ahogue's annoyance that an affected accent as a method to indicate "Hey, I'm a foreigner speaking in another language" may have a historical theatrical tradition but it still doesn't make logical sense when you hold it up to scrutiny.

We are *not* talking about foreigners speaking with accents and being dismissed for being foreigners, we are *not* talking about native english speaking actors trying to play a foreigner speaking english with a foreign accent. We are talking native english speaking actors trying to play a foreign character speaking the character's own and native language in the character's own and native land be speaking english with an affective foreign accent.

The stage is supposed to be vienna. The characters (english actors) are supposed to be vienese. The entire play takes plays in Vienna and the characters are supposed to be speaking German. No non-vienese ever appears in the play and no other language but German is supposed to be spoken. When we hear the words they have been magically translated to English. But is the any *logic* that it should have magically translated with an affected German (not Vienese usually) accent? Supposedly the historical logic is if they didn't affect the accent we wouldn't know they were supposed to be vienese but is that really valid?

Janos (first post):
Disturbing too is John Williams' Staru Waru percussive music, with a few minutes of Japanese music and the Andrews Sisters.

Okay, I had forgotten about this. I assumed Janos' was using the term condescendingly to refer to the music having an artificial, unconvincing, affected, stereotypical, inaccurate, and offensive "asian" sound as percieved by americans. I suppose I could have misinterpreted this, and I suppose Janos might actually believe all asians pronounce Star Wars as "Staru Waru" and if Janos *does* believe this than he is a deserving recipient of your anger.


pooja: As for Apu, has anyone ever made fun of you for your accent?

Actually, yes.

> But you all seem to be taking the position that accents really matter a lot. It actually makes ahogue sick to hear it.

affecting a diliberately foreign accent in a situation in which the role would be speaking in a native language in his native land and thus has no reason to appear as foreign.

> And then you jump on me for pointing out that outside of this country, maybe it doesn't matter so much.

Jumping on you? I said there was not logical corelation between Latin and English accents nor was there between English with a German accent and actual german. You pointed out that it wasn't arbitrary but a matter of class. I said that was a point I hadn't considered. Where's the jumping on you?


> What is "varify"? If you mean verify, I certainly have plenty of PERSONAL DIRECT experience that people laugh at Apu and others with similar accents.

Then speak about those people that you have personal direct expeirience with. Or even say "ahogue's comment reminds my of the many peoply with whom I have plenty of personal direct experience that laugh at Apu". But don't say "I bet you (ahogue) laugh at everything Apu says". You've never met ahogue so you have no idea whether he does or doesn't. Maybe you've met thousands of people who have who have expressed the identical opinions as ahogue and perhaps every single one of them guffawed like an idiot at everything Apu said but you've never met ahogue so you can not make any such blanket assumtions.

> > I'm not saying we don't; just that it's very unfair and underhanded to put someone into a hypothetical speculation of one's own creation.
>
> What, you think I'm making this all up? Have you actually read this whole thread from the beginning?
>
Making up that ahogue specifically laughs at everything Apu says? I think you are making strawmen arguments that he never explicitely stated and bringing up broad categorical instances which, although very real and personally experienced, haven't actually been brought up here.
dpowers
post #54  on December 13, 2005 - 11:52 PM PST  
that wasn't to excuse anything. we pick on people who speak english with a spanish accent here, and that relationship is better established, with more intermarriage, than between the UK and india.
dpowers
post #55  on December 13, 2005 - 11:58 PM PST  
> The stage is supposed to be vienna. ... No non-vienese ever appears in the play and no other language but German is supposed to be spoken. When we hear the words they have been magically translated to English. But is the any *logic* that it should have magically translated with an affected German (not Vienese usually) accent? ... the historical logic is if they didn't affect the accent we wouldn't know they were supposed to be vienese ...

the spin on the english helps explain the spin on big and small behavior choices.
Battie
post #56  on December 14, 2005 - 12:06 AM PST  
> On December 13, 2005 - 10:11 PM PST pooja wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On December 13, 2005 - 7:49 PM PST woozy wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > And likewise foreigners are defined by theirs.
>
> That's exactly what I'm talking about. To you Americans, foreigners are defined by their accents. I'm not putting words in your mouths, YOU are saying it yourself! My own experience is that furthermore races are defined here by their skin color and eye shape. Do you think I want to be DEFINED by my accent? My accent is a part of me, yes, but I wouldn't say it's the part that DEFINES me. Are the actresses' performances DEFINED by their accents? Well, maybe they are, but maybe not. I tend not to judge a performance by the accent, unless it's REALLY awful (eg. if Zhang Ziyi spoke like she was from Texas, as per my example above, or if her accent kept coming and going). To me it sounds like a cheap shot.
> ---------------------------------

#1: Quit lumping every American together. Just because a few jerks treated you badly based on your skin color or race doesn't give you leave to take it out on everyone here. WE did nothing to you, as far as I know.

#2: As I am about as white as it can get as far as color goes, I can't "understand" the race issue by your own definition. But I've been put down for being lower class, for living in a trailer, for my mother's mistakes, my grandfather's mistakes, and my accent. (Yes, people have taken potshots at me for having my lovely Texan accent. I think it's funny that they assume we're all idiots here.) And you know what? I don't care. Maybe it's the American in me to still assume that what I am is based on my abilities and not my accent or my family. If YOU can't get past your own skin color, too bad for you. But I'm sick of people like YOU taking their rage out on me because some idiot assumed something stupid about them because they were a different race. That, by the way, wasn't a racially influenced comment. I see a difference between someone like you, and the guy from India who owns several businesses in town (and who happens to be successful and friendly, and, though I know he has an accent, I find it hard to remember anything about him BUT his friendliness).

And just so you know, I have a reason for being bitter over this white vs. every other race crap. I've lost a few friends because I "can't understand racism." The assumption being that my skin must not only prevent that understanding, but the sympathy that goes along with it, I suppose.

#3: My comment about accents had NOTHING to do with their race. It was about the fact that they were mixing accents from all over into one movie, but portraying it as people from the exact same area in Japan. Had this been a movie set in a place like the late 1800s San Fransico, you'd have no complaint from me, as such a mixing would be relatively normal. Frankly, the actresses could've had accents from Australia, Britain, France, America, and Canada, and I'd STILL think it'd have a weird feel. But this does not mean I won't watch. Nor does it mean I won't enjoy. And nor does it mean I won't value their performances ON the basis of their performance, rather than their accents.

And I'm hoping, given your stance, that your comment about a Texan accent was meant to be about the actress pretending to have one in Memroirs of a Geisha, and not yet another potshot.


And just so you know, pooja, one of the first steps towards any kind of prejudice, regardless of whether or not it's based on skin color, country of origin, intelligence, etc, is generalizations. And one of the most hurtful, though well-deserved, things the woman I call mentor ever scolded me over was for generalizing. Woozy was attempting to point this out in his polite way. My polite way was to point it out with sharp-edged humor. But since ya didn't get it the first time, bluntness can do just as well. THAT was not about rudeness with either of us, just basically saying you were being a hypocrite without using the word. :)

I think I'm going to lurk for the next month or two. >_>
pooja
post #57  on December 14, 2005 - 8:12 AM PST  
Oh, ho, how lovely... the clan bands together to put the uppity colored girl in her place. I've cleared the front lawn for you, in case you feel the need to burn something there...
;-)

Battie, I don't have a specific argument with you and if you took my generalized complaint personally all I can say is please don't. I have plenty of smart white American friends who I love very much. Many of them share the same general misgivings I do. Obviously if I say that generally Americans seem insensitive to the points of view of foreigners I would except them (and a couple of gentlemen here in this thread). But I'll make a deal with you. I'll keep my mouth shut if I hear someone use the "N word" (it's none of MY business if he's calling someone else that, right?) if you promise not to get huffy the next time someone ridicules poor white Texans without referring specifically to you. Deal?

> We are *not* talking about foreigners speaking with accents and being dismissed for being foreigners, we are *not* talking about native english speaking actors trying to play a foreigner speaking english with a foreign accent. We are talking native english speaking actors trying to play a foreign character speaking the character's own and native language in the character's own and native land be speaking english with an affective foreign accent.

I'm not 100% clear on what you just wrote there, woozy, but I agree that THAT part of the discussion is OK and I myself was a fairly civil participant in that debate. There are a few issues there... one is that often British/Australian/New Zealand actors/extras are used to play these parts, their own native accents intact. If you look at Gladiator, you've got Richard Harris, a Brit, and Russell Crowe, from Australia or wherever, being directed by a Brit, Ridley Scott. I guess Scott could have asked Crowe and Harris to suppress their accents, but what would be the point? In fact, I'm not so sure that there is a fast and hard rule that in movies Romans have British accents and provincials have American accents. Do you have a clear citation on this claim? I DO see a convention where the rulers have an Oxbridge accent and peasants/soldiers have Cockney accents or something similar, but these are the same conventions that are used whether you're watching Shakespeare, The Eastenders, or Upstairs Downstairs. It doesn't seem unnatural to me.

OK, that's an example of how this discussion is a civil exchange on the issue of accents.

Once I heard a co-worker remark on something that appeared on TV during lunch hour... I think it was someone of Iranian extraction being interviewed in L.A. My coworker muttered, "I know it's wrong but when I hear someone speaking like that I just get sick to my stomach. I can almost smell'em."
On one level I appreciate the candor of this coworker, but guess what? It made ME feel sick to my stomach that someone close by could feel this way inside.

So when ahogue said he has a visceral reaction to hearing Romans speaking the king's english, I wondered what he meant. He said it really mattered to him. I asked him for a clarification but he hasn't come back.

That's the problem I see with this thread, because I'm reacting to undercurrents that seem invisible to the rest of you, and that "blindness" is what I'm having an issue with in terms of "generalizations"... it bothers me a great deal that you don't seem to notice these undercurrents, or you try to dismiss/ignore them.

OBVIOUSLY, when Janos commented about the "Staru Waru" music he was talking about the pidgin score that he thought John Williams had concocted for Geisha. Indeed, Janos could have just said so, instead of resorting to a stilted characterization like "Staru Waru"... I don't know of any Asian language where "Star Wars" would be phonetically transcribed as "Staru Waru"... my Japanese housemate says over there it would be more like "Staaa Waazu".

My reading of Janos' review is that it suffers from the same kind of insensitivity that he's accusing the creators of Geisha with. Janos signed his name so I'm assuming he's a professional writer (he got in to a press screening, right?) of some sort. If that's the case I should think he's perfectly capable of making these valid critical points without using cheapshot expressions like "Staru Waru" and it irked me a little that no-one else seemed to question this.

I've been trying to bring the discussion back to issues that are not personal, like "Do accents really matter if they fall within a reasonable range of variation?" The characters in Geisha might all be in one location in Japan, but they might be from different regions or from different backgrounds... even if they were speaking in Japanese who is to say their accents would be uniform? I'm feeling that if you are all saying that accents DO matter a lot, there must be some kind of cultural undercurrent there. If there IS some kind of American cultural undercurrent, I'm associating that with stuff like the English First movement in public education and my coworker in the lunch room.

OK, I admit maybe I DO have a little chip on my shoulder about accents, and discrimination... but if getting rid of that chip means that I have to dull myself to those issues and not complain, well, I'm claiming that chip!

> The stage is supposed to be vienna. The characters (english actors) are supposed to be vienese. The entire play takes plays in Vienna and the characters are supposed to be speaking German. No non-vienese ever appears in the play and no other language but German is supposed to be spoken. When we hear the words they have been magically translated to English. But is the any *logic* that it should have magically translated with an affected German (not Vienese usually) accent? Supposedly the historical logic is if they didn't affect the accent we wouldn't know they were supposed to be vienese but is that really valid?

I think there are 3 or more ways to do something like this and they could ALL be valid and believable. My choice would be to use pure crown English for the Viennese characters, and employ different accents to denote differences between the characters' backgrounds.... patrician oxbridge for the Viennese nobles, Cockney for the corner bakers and cafe waiters, American accents for the ambassador from Washington and his staff, maybe even German for the visiting Bavarian prince. But another way to go would be to have everyone speak with affected Germanic accents, which could be effective if done well. Also if it's particularly important to the script to establish, say, the opulence and grandeur of Vienna during its Golden Age or something, the accents COULD serve to help give the production a certain atmosphere of history and romance that works to the script's advantage. Or we could just decide to assign little attention to accents, and let the actors read the script the way each of them wants to. If the play is a comedy or farce, this might make little difference to the presentation, and maybe even enhance the humor (cue Pink Panther theme...) I don't think anyone is trying to ram a single convention down our throats to try and make us feel ill...

> Okay, I had forgotten about this. I assumed Janos' was using the term condescendingly to refer to the music having an artificial, unconvincing, affected, stereotypical, inaccurate, and offensive "asian" sound as percieved by americans. I suppose I could have misinterpreted this

A good writer wouldn't leave something like this open to misinterpretation, would they? It could be an attempt at "edgy humor" but...

Well, at least it's clear that his tone is condescending...
woozy
post #58  on December 14, 2005 - 9:33 AM PST  
pooja, my only complaint is your tendency to put arguments in other people's mouths and to presume their responses and reactions. I suppose I consider that sucker-punching or entrapment. Whatever, just understand it *really* drives up my ire.


>
> I'm not 100% clear on what you just wrote there, woozy, but I agree that THAT part of the discussion is OK and I myself was a fairly civil participant in that debate.

as was I *until* you said "I bet you laugh at everything Apu says". As I said above, I get very offended when one presumes another's response and reaction.

> In fact, I'm not so sure that there is a fast and hard rule that in movies Romans have British accents and provincials have American accents. Do you have a clear citation on this claim?

Not hard and fast, no, and I can't remember when I first read the argument (which refered primarily to sparticus).

> I DO see a convention where the rulers have an Oxbridge accent and peasants/soldiers have Cockney accents or something similar, but these are the same conventions that are used whether you're watching Shakespeare, The Eastenders, or Upstairs Downstairs. It doesn't seem unnatural to me.

Well, Eastenders and Upstairs Downstairs are supposed to be "fly on the wall photorealistic" where what we see and hear is what is actually occuring. When "camera magic" occurs and the language is magically translated and ... inexplicably there are affected accents that I ask "well, where's the logic of the affected accents". That is pretty much all I got out of ahogue's comments.

You pointed out that accents *do* denote class and I hadn't considered that.


> Once I heard a co-worker remark on something that appeared on TV during lunch hour... I think it was someone of Iranian extraction being interviewed in L.A. My coworker muttered, "I know it's wrong but when I hear someone speaking like that I just get sick to my stomach. I can almost smell'em."
> On one level I appreciate the candor of this coworker, but guess what? It made ME feel sick to my stomach that someone close by could feel this way inside.

The comment about "smell 'em" is particularly...,er, ... odius. You have the right to be offended. That's a very offensive comment (although I'd be forgiving *if* his intent was to confess how bad he feels about his fault for feeling this way).

> So when ahogue said he has a visceral reaction to hearing Romans speaking the king's english, I wondered what he meant. He said it really mattered to him. I asked him for a clarification but he hasn't come back.
>
Yes, but please don't presume his response.

> That's the problem I see with this thread, because I'm reacting to undercurrents that seem invisible to the rest of you, and that "blindness" is what I'm having an issue with in terms of "generalizations"... it bothers me a great deal that you don't seem to notice these undercurrents, or you try to dismiss/ignore them.
>
I'm not commenting on the issue about whether chinese actors should be "allowed" to play japanese characters or whether actresses with the wrong natural accent should play in the same movie with someone with another, because I don't have a strong opinion. I agree with you that it doesn't matter to me much but I don't feel strongly enough to counter the opposition nor do I think I know enough about the matter to be convinced I'm correct.

> My reading of Janos' review is that it suffers from the same kind of insensitivity that he's accusing the creators of Geisha with. Janos signed his name so I'm assuming he's a professional writer (he got in to a press screening, right?) of some sort. If that's the case I should think he's perfectly capable of making these valid critical points without using cheapshot expressions like "Staru Waru" and it irked me a little that no-one else seemed to question this.
>

I thought it was an expression at John Williams. When Star Wars I came out an NPR reporter once described Jar-jar's character as "a intergalactic Stepnfetchit". I thought his comment as clearly directed at Lucas for making a such a character and in no way a cheapshot endorsing the term "Stepnfetchit" which is understood to be offensive.

> > Okay, I had forgotten about this. I assumed Janos' was using the term condescendingly to refer to the music having an artificial, unconvincing, affected, stereotypical, inaccurate, and offensive "asian" sound as percieved by americans. I suppose I could have misinterpreted this
>
> A good writer wouldn't leave something like this open to misinterpretation, would they? It could be an attempt at "edgy humor" but...
>
I was being a bit sarcastic. You attacked the "Staru Waru" phrase as "you" implying Janos endorsed it when he was putting it in the mouth of Williams.

> Well, at least it's clear that his tone is condescending...
> ---------------------------------

I meant he was stating Williams tone was condescending. As for Janos, him/herself, I'd prefer not to comment.

pooja
post #59  on December 14, 2005 - 10:55 AM PST  
> On December 14, 2005 - 9:33 AM PST woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> pooja, my only complaint is your tendency to put arguments in other people's mouths and to presume their responses and reactions. I suppose I consider that sucker-punching or entrapment. Whatever, just understand it *really* drives up my ire.

I say let's put that behind us since I have a big problem with you constantly pointing this out... If I speculate on what someone meant by something they said because their argument was not clear to me, or if I suggest something in the way of coaxing an affirmative or negative, I'm trying to make my position on that subject clearer at the same time. The other person is always free to set me straight, and I would appreciate his/her response, especially if it helps to clarify things. However, if someone says something unclear, and I try to interpret it, then the person scolds me, my attitude is that this person wants to belittle me and then change the subject to something else. I think that's a rather rude response, so we seem to be at an impasse.... I wish you would just address the issue being discussed instead of stopping to take offense at my suggestions each time, but maybe we should just agree to disagree on this point...

> as was I *until* you said "I bet you laugh at everything Apu says". As I said above, I get very offended when one presumes another's response and reaction.

Forgive me, I don't really see the problem if that person is free to set the other person straight. IF I couldn't say anything and had to be a silent participant while other people discussed pooja's thoughts and beliefs, I would be angry too. Or if the other person was so dominant in the discussion I really couldn't get a word in edgewise, I would get angry. But here we can't really shut each other up, so I don't see a problem. If someone said, "pooja it sounds like you are claiming XXX and to me it sounds YYY... is this what you are thinking?" I wouldn't take offense, I would just explain I actually meant ZZZ not YYY. What purpose does it serve to be offended? It just breeds animosity and stops the discussion. But I'll try to remember that you have a particular personal issue with this, and hopefully I'll be able to avoid it...

> Not hard and fast, no, and I can't remember when I first read the argument (which refered primarily to sparticus).

That's a pretty old film to frame a current "convention" around, don't you think?


> inexplicably there are affected accents that I ask "well, where's the logic of the affected accents". That is pretty much all I got out of ahogue's comments.

And I'm saying 1) does it really matter that much? and 2) even if it did, maybe it's NOT inexplicable if we looked at it more closely. Whichever way, in the context of a narrative film set in a country where people speak another language, they have to solve this problem somehow. I don't think there's one answer that is best for all such situations.

> Yes, but please don't presume his response.

I'll try not to presume your responses, woozy, but ahogue is a big boy... he can speak for himself if and when he gets back. Please don't presume that he wants you to plead on his behalf. He clearly stated that he didn't say or mean something that he actually said, so I asked him for clarification.

> I agree with you that it doesn't matter to me much but I don't feel strongly enough to counter the opposition nor do I think I know enough about the matter to be convinced I'm correct.

I think if we accord American actors like Meryl Streep accolades for playing a Polish holocaust survivor or an Australian housewife who lost her baby to a dingo or an English French Lieutenant's woman, we shouldn't have any problems with Chinese women playing Japanese courtesans. I DO feel pretty strongly about THAT.

> I thought it was an expression at John Williams. When Star Wars I came out an NPR reporter once described Jar-jar's character as "a intergalactic Stepnfetchit".

Stepnfetchit is a well understood term in an American context. As a description of Jar Jar I suppose that characterization is clear in intent and perhaps even justified. Staru Waru is just carelessly stilted, I think... I'm troubled that it appears in the same article as a pejorative use of the term Bollywood (ah, there's the real issue!) and whatever was meant by "Nagoya gravy" which is totally a mystery to me but sounds vaguely negative in this context. Is Nagoya understood to have the worst food in Japan or something?

> I was being a bit sarcastic. You attacked the "Staru Waru" phrase as "you" implying Janos endorsed it when he was putting it in the mouth of Williams.

Janos wrote: "Disturbing too is John Williams' Staru Waru percussive music"... he didn't say John Williams called it Staru Waru music. Janos is the one who thought John Williams' music sounded "Staru Waru"...
woozy
post #60  on December 14, 2005 - 3:05 PM PST  
> I say let's put that behind us since I have a big problem with you constantly pointing this out...

I will but please keep in mind I *truly* dislike this behavior. Otherwise, I find you an intelligent, clever, funny and otherwise fascinating person.

>.. and I try to interpret it, then the person scolds me, my attitude is that this person wants to belittle me and then change the subject to something else. I think that's a rather rude response, so we seem to be at an impasse....

That's the difference between *a*suming an d *pre*suming. Assuming is making an interpretation. Presuming is putting words or strawmen arguments into another's mouth.

>but maybe we should just agree to disagree on this point...

I'll agree to stop chiding you for presuming if you agree to stop presuming. we are both free to assume and call each other on other behavior in each other.
>
> Forgive me, I don't really see the problem if that person is free to set the other person straight.

The problem is that the record he his to set straight is a record of your, not his, devicing. You *assumed* what Janos meant by "Staru Waru" and put him on the spot to defend or explain it. That is fair. He/She made the comment. The responsibility for it is all his/hers. On the other hand you *presumed* ahogue laughs at everything Apu says and put him on the spot to defend or explain it. That is patently *UN*fair as ahogue never did or said anything of the such.

> If someone said, "pooja it sounds like you are claiming XXX and to me it sounds YYY... is this what you are thinking?" I wouldn't take offense, I would just explain I actually meant ZZZ not YYY. What purpose does it serve to be offended?

But would you take offense at "Pooja, I bet you think this. Ha! I know you do"? I certainly would and do. Do you not see the difference?


> > Not hard and fast, no, and I can't remember when I first read the argument (which refered primarily to sparticus).
>
> That's a pretty old film to frame a current "convention" around, don't you think?
>

Apparently I didn't. The convention seems to be going away lately anyway.

> And I'm saying 1) does it really matter that much? and 2) even if it did, maybe it's NOT inexplicable if we looked at it more closely. Whichever way, in the context of a narrative film set in a country where people speak another language, they have to solve this problem somehow. I don't think there's one answer that is best for all such situations.

It seems a little pointless and silly and without a logical basis ... well, weird. I don't care too much because I've become used to it but when it's a *bad* accent for no good reason it can be irksome.


> I think if we accord American actors like Meryl Streep accolades for playing a Polish holocaust survivor or an Australian housewife who lost her baby to a dingo or an English French Lieutenant's woman, we shouldn't have any problems with Chinese women playing Japanese courtesans. I DO feel pretty strongly about THAT.
>
I tend to agree. But this issue isn't new. There are a lot of movies in which people feel lesser actors of an ethnic background are overlooked for actors that they assume are mainstream and of broader appeal. No one complained Meryl Streep shouldn't be playing a polish holocaust survivor when there are thousands of qualified polish actresses that could do the job as well, but it's concievable that some people might. I'd simply prefer to avoid the argument (unless I were the director in which case I'd feel but the whole point of my movie is that it's a Streep movie and I *want* her star power, but then if there *were* a legitimate argument that polish actors *were* being overlooked because of perceptions that poles don't have mainstream appeal [which if it were true is rather tragic], I'd figure I'd have an obligation to address the issue.)

> Janos wrote: "Disturbing too is John Williams' Staru Waru percussive music"... he didn't say John Williams called it Staru Waru music. Janos is the one who thought John Williams' music sounded "Staru Waru"...
> ---------------------------------

I suppose. But then again my NPR film critic didn't say Lucas called Jar Jar stepnfetchit; he was the one who said Jar Jar appeared stepnfetchit-like. Oh well, I have no real opinion on it and as I don't know Janos I prefer to err on the side of forgiving.


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