11.30.2011

Accent & Attraction (Updated)

You want this.  Admit it.
As I am a moderator for the Blasian Narrative, it should come as no shock that when I hear Asian men (born and raised in their countries of origin) speak English...I find their accents incredibly sexy.

First let me explain why I'm bringing this up.  November ends today, and with it, the Narrative's celebration of Ninja Assassin's 2nd Anniversary.  Now, back when I first got hooked on the movie, I naturally read every blog post and news blurb I could find.  And boy...did I find.
"For those who were hoping to see Rain delivering his lines in improved English, sorry to disappoint you, but the character Raizo is a murdering machine who, by nature, rarely exposes his emotions."

~ Wee Geun-woo, "[REVIEW] Ninja Assassin"

"At least his English has a believable Japanese accent, unlike the lazy casting of “Memoirs of a Geisha,” in which the Chinese leads spoke English with obvious Chinese accents."

See, here's the thing: I wasn't disappointed by Rain's English at all. Nothing about it needed to be "improved". His sentences were complete. His grammar was correct. And the fact that Rain actually paused to consider how a Japanese character would sound speaking English is the mark of a highly attentive actor, not to mention skilled since Rain himself is still learning English.

So why does the first quote bug me?  Ninja Assassin takes place in Berlin, Germany.  We hear LOTS of different accents.  We hear plenty of German accents.  We also hear Russian  accents (the tragic Sabatins).  British actor Ben Miles speaks his regular British accent.  Naomie Harris, also a Brit, does an American accent (I don't know why she bothered, though).  Rick Yune's American and speaks like an American.  Sho Kosugi speaks in a Japanese accent (Rain probably spent a lot of time listening to him).  Anna Sawai does...some kind of accent.  Lee Joon's accent leans more towards Korean.  And Rain makes a concerted effort to sound Japanese.

My point?  No one bats an eyelash when the Western(ized) characters speak English, even if it's not their first language and they can't speak it perfectly (the Germans and Russians).  But when the Asian guy speaks in complete, grammatically correct sentences, for some reason improvement is automatically expected.

And by improvement, "sounding Western" is implied.

Um...why?  The accent Rain does is sexy, so very sexy.  We should also note how he slightly changed his voice, fully immersing himself the dark persona of his role (Brandon Lee did the same thing in The Crow).  Just because some folks don't notice these things, it doesn't mean they aren't there and/or don't matter.

Nikkei View goes on to add, "The excuse given by the producers of “Geisha” was that they just couldn’t find Japanese (or Japanese American) actresses with the box office draw. But they obviously didn’t try to coach their stars to speaking English with Japanese inflections. either. The message I got from the filmmakers was, “All Asians are alike and it doesn’t matter who we cast in what roles and how they sound.”"

My point exactly. As an African, I can totally relate, because whenever an American is cast as an African, they always do this generic, Nigerianish-sounding accent which makes me rub my temples.  It doesn't matter if they're playing a Senegalese, Rwandan, or South African, the accents all sound the same. *clenches teeth*  We don't all sound the same.

But when we "sound", we sound wonderful, and we don't need improving at all.

We need to get the point where Eastern accents aren't so easily dismissed.  They're distinct, diverse, and utterly sexy. They're to be admired and enjoyed, rather than discouraged.

Recommended

I Need to Clear the Air on Ninja Assassin
The Addictionary

25 comments:

  1. Hello Narrative! I've lurked around here for about a year and decided to make this my first post:)I agree with this tid-bit so much. He was doing his JOB and yet it still wasn't good enough since he didn't sound "western" like he was "supposed" to. This bull-chuck needs to stop. ( I have an inability to curse, but you get the general idea)

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  2. *slaps five* Heard that! Pun intended.

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  3. I've lurked around here for about a year and decided to make this my first post:)

    Keep 'em coming!!!!

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  4. THAT PICTURE. collects scattered brains....
    ok.
    How long have asian accents been the model of 'stupid'? Too long. Ching-a-ling-long, it's still there. And the internalized racism/embedded hierarchy of the asian diaspora doesn't help any. Don't mind the bitterness in my tone but we (collectively) are still a ways from coming up with our own standards of acceptability, & so we remain stupid. And the world mocks us (collectively) for it.

    Thanks for being a break in this destructive circle ^_^
    Accents are a sensitive topic for Asian Americans (I can't speak for anyone else). It's a crying shame that you had to write this post. It should be the norm.

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  5. I totally agree! What I don't get is why they make a big fuss about Rain when Jackie Chan barely speaks broken English.

    Also, I think that all people are made to sound the same by others. I remember watching some British guy on youtube do an ''American accent'' as if all Americans sound the same. *rolls eyes*

    I feel your pain. Especially when ignorant people try and make it seem like all black people talk slang and say ''Yo'' all the time.

    Please continue to educate us!

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  6. Sorry for double posting, I think Rain really got me to lose my marbles.

    The thing about Asian accents is the history of it, the racist history behind it and the power that was wielded over us, is wielded over us, for it.
    But it's really different in the motherlands where they don't experience the same kinds of social hate and control the way we have, stratified into race and color.

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  7. Ahh that picture... I'm in awe.

    Anyways, I was just talking to a friend of mine about a documentary we seen about the world's tallest people. In one of the segments of it, a British a guy want to come to Hollywood to act.According to the casting director said he would struggle because 1) He was too tall( over 7 feet tall),but she wanted to test his acting ability and one of his requirements of doing was that he would have to drop his British accent.

    Why? Why should this guy have to drop his accent for the test. I've always found that to be a pain. We're supposed to be the US of A yet, we don't respect people for where they are from. It's crazy how North America is so bent on people speaking English only. If anything, we all should be speaking any indigenous language that came from Native Americans.

    If there is anything that have( and still) continue to draw me to Asian men, it is how some of them talk..at least the ones I knew were like this. They could from their native country or from the US ..and they just had this kind of sexiness to their voice. Rain should have played the role that he truly is..Korean and talked with an authentic Korean accent.Otherwise, they should have gotten a real Japanese man to do it.

    And that remark " All Asians sound alike and it doesn't matter who we cast in the roles and how tghey sound" ..Tell me that those filmmakers didn't go there with that?! They may think that all Asians sound alike,but they know best..and will tell them about it.Funny how they think that All Asians sound alike. They are the ones who want all Americans to sound alike.The same can be said about us.

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  8. And that remark " All Asians sound alike and it doesn't matter who we cast in the roles and how tghey sound" ..Tell me that those filmmakers didn't go there with that?!

    That's the blogger's interpretation.

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  9. *Adds picture to my arsenal of Rain photos* Thank you Miss Ankh.

    I LOOOOVED Rain's accent during this movie. No matter what anyone says. LOVED it. Tremble worthy loved it. He gave 110% for this whole movie. I honestly think the accent thing is the only thing they could hold against him.

    Here's this sexy Asian giant all muscled and stealing the mastah's wench!!! Well he still speaks his English funny! Yeah!

    Idiots.

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  10. Remember this one?

    http://blasiannarrative.blogspot.com/2010/07/addictionary.html

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  11. That picture still does things to me...lol I thought his accent was sexy too.

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  12. Sorry but I stopped liking Rain after he started endorsing skin bleaching creams.

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  13. Re: Rain pic.

    I'm joining with the other comments with the GOOD GODS ALMIGHTY!!!!

    "The excuse given by the producers of “Geisha” was that they just couldn’t find Japanese (or Japanese American) actresses with the box office draw."

    That was the same excuse they used for whitewashing 21. Even though the main actor is British and had to get training from a dialect coach for the role.

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  14. I'm still stuck on the fact that this was an action movie, and their bitching about his accent. >_>

    As for accents they keep on f*cking up? Please add Jamaican to that list. *le damn sigh* If I hear one more, "Yea, mon!"....

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  15. Ankh,

    It's unfortunate that opinions cannot be made into facts. He probably is more than right. Hollywood don't want POC's to be themselves.

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  16. I'm inviting people to write their favorite quotes from Raizo.

    Mine - and Amaya will probably co-sign on this - was after Raizo rescued Mika the first time, and he's about to go get her some clothes. He gets out of the car, pauses, gets back in, and says:

    "If you leave while I'm gone, they'll hunt you and kill you. Do you understand?"

    We die laughing every time. I think that line was so real, so blunt, so to-the-point. It's like he was saying, "Don't go nowhere. I ain't in the mood for the dumb horror movie chick routine. Don't play with me."

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  17. With the hand raised. Don't forget that. When he put his hand up as he spoke, it was clear he meant that shit he was saying. Basically: "Stay yo' ass right here while I go and get you some too-tight jeans because you can't woman up and tell the truth about your size..."

    That hand gets me every time.

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  18. @ the pic of Rain... __flatline__ sexiness overload!

    I thought his accent was one of the sexiest things about his acting in Ninja Assassin. And I too loved that scene when he went to get Mika some clothes. He gets halfway out of the car until the idea hits him, and then he gives her that calm cool warning not to go anywhere.... ~full body shivers~ I wish he'd give me a command all stern and stuff... ~dirty thoughts~

    I also really love the scene in the hotel when he says "take off your clothes" 0.0 that was HOTTTT!!!! Whew! Ok, lemme stop fangirl-ing for a second.

    I LOVE an Asian man with an accent. It is so sexy to me, omg. Many of the Asian guys I have dated have either been American or have lived here so long that they didn't have a discernible accent, so it's obviously not a "fetish" or a requirement or anything. I just find it super duper sexy, a definite PLUS.

    I think picking on Rain's accent is just a demonstration of how flawless his performance was. They had literally NOTHING bad to say about the film, so they had to attack him for having an accent. Haters gonna hate.

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  19. When I initially watched NA I didn't think about Rain's accent, I was focused on his deep sexy voice. Now that I've done more "research" on Rain it is clear that he really stepped his English game up for this movie.

    I agree with Julie about the ongoing discrimination against and stereotyping of Asian accents.

    British accents do nothing for me. Indian accents are lovely.

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  20. "Mika, Mika, Mika... I like you more and more."

    This is literally what I hear every time I unlock my laptop. Well I actually have the whole scene which is completely worse because she's panting while trying to free him and just... it just sounds freaky in a good way.

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  21. This pic is now the wallpaper on my desktop ^^

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  22. Love the new look. There was absolutely nothing wrong w/Rain's English. I understood every word he said.

    One of my fave quotes from NA:
    "I was waiting for you" as Raizo picks a star from out of his stomach. The "mack" is always there.

    Raizo was a total flirt.

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