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  • Welcome to the Nancy Tribe

    What do you think about the way English people are portrayed in Buffy and Angel? And any other Brits and English-as-mother-tongue Europeans (to include Doyle). Their accents? Their habits? Their characters? Do they seem "Englandland"-y to you - as in, the twee England from the movies, where it always snows at Christmas and everyone rides around on big red buses? Or authentic? How are they different from the US characters (if at all)?

    This is by way of a resurrection of the "loo shag brolly" thread from Buffyworld, if anyone remembers that...


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  • #2
    The issue for me is not whether a character portrays the stereotype, but whether they remain as the stereotype.

    To attempt to put it briefly, I don't feel as if Jossian characters are confined to foils or the archtypal moulds.

    Giles initially seemed to be stuffy by the book representitive of the establishment, a distinct opposite of the comptempory Californian backdrop. However, his intuitiveness with Buffy mirrored her own leaving behind the horrid concept of the so called rigidity of the Englishman.

    At the moment for some reason my minds a little blank but I think Joss is guilty of the some of the stereotypes but they are nearly always intentional to break free of them. For example, an Irishman who likes a drink? Big shock huh? But also one who becomes a self-sacrificing hero (could be talking about either Angel or Doyle here).

    All in all, I haven't really too much of an issue with how they are portrayed.

    Accents? We'll skate over Molly the potential. Marster's accent was commendable although, I've never spent a great deal of time in North London but those who have, said it wasn't at all bad.

    This said, I always felt in later years there is a touch of California in both Spike's and Wesley's accent. At first, I thought it was intentional but Head's accent remained more or less the same, although his demeanour relaxed a little. Spike's can be explained by the fact that he seems to adapt and pick things up quickly. Maybe this is the longest, he's spent in the US at any one time, I'm not sure. The moment that really sticks out is when Riley stakes in with the plastic stake and he says "Oh man, you're..." The 'oh man' part was totally californian. Again I don't know if that was a slip or not. Other than that, as with Juliet it's only the odd word that sounds totally american.

    As much as I love Holtz, his accent was atrocious. Was that supposed to be English? It just sounded American to me.
    Last edited by kana; 29-01-09, 09:56 PM.

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    • #3
      Keith Szarabajka didn't attempt any accent. That's just his [American] voice and his career seems largely built on that voice (as can be seen by all the video game voices he's done).

      Originally posted by [url]http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t8261.htm[/url]
      Actually, American English (including Canadian) is the older form of the two Englishes. It has not changed as much from the English of the 17th and 18th centuries century as British English.
      Technically, an American accent might actually be closer to an 18th century British accent.

      "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
      "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and cruel. But that's why there's us. Champions."

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      • #4
        I don't really count since technically I'm not a native speaker, but rather someone who was brought up bilingual by lucky chance for a couple of years, yet since it was with British English I did sense some slips (like Spike saying "pants" instead of "trousers" once in S7, while he speaks of shrinking his trousers in Doomed, and a couple of accent slips).

        I think Joss plays with stereotypes quite intentionally (think Wesley in S3...), but rather uses them in a satirical way.
        Sin is what I feast upon
        I'm forging my crematorium
        Your tomb is waiting here for you
        Welcome to my ritual

        -Judas Priest, Death

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        • #5
          I was always a bit annoyed with the names.

          There are 'special' names for some of the american characters; like Cordelia, Buffy, Faith, Dawn & Willow.

          And the Irish and British names are not just normal names, those are stereotypes; Wesley, Rupert & William (British) and Doyle, Liam & Connor (Irish).


          And of course, the CoW being British and having the two full blood Irish characters, drinking too much is a bit risky in the stereotype department. Only the latter never bothered me that much, because (like Kana already said) both characters are 'redeemed', they are more than the Irish stereotype character.
          Last edited by Nina; 30-01-09, 02:10 PM.

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          • #6
            I think the only characters who are awful stereotypes are the Watcher’s Council ones – the crazy ex watcher with the glove of love (or whatever it’s called), the one who wrote her thesis on Spike*, and the various other watchers who come in Quentin’s posse. I don’t mind Quentin, though, as to be honest he’s not a stereotype – I’ve met plenty of old codgers like him. Ditto Wesley’s father. They’re part of another era of England but a) they are old men, so that makes sense and b) they’re part of an archaic institution, so their world is not our world, really.

            *Though I do love her… and maybe she’s not so much of a stereotype when I think about some of the grad students at Oxford, all undersexed and pouring their frustrations into studies of medieval sexuality and nuns wearing binding clothing for the wrong reasons…

            When Giles first appears, he’s a stereotype – but then, you discover that this is a carefully constructed persona, his way of seeking redemption from his Ripperish past, perhaps? There are layers to his Englishness, with a layer of posh boy at the core perhaps, but with a layer of rebellious London lad over that, and then on top the veneer of the civilised gentleman, a mask that can be taken off to reveal something darker.

            English characters – Giles and Wesley in particular – seem to embody a kind of dark pragmatism. They’re the ones who do very ends-justify-the-means-y actions (Giles killing Ben, Wesley kidnapping Connor). They both remind me of Pink Flloyd at times: “Going on in quiet desperation is the English way.”

            In terms of accents, as I think Kana said (sorry, am typing this in a word doc so can’t glance back), Spike’s accent can be explained away in terms of him having spent a lot of time in the US. Accents do change, and I can only imagine how much they might change if you live for 100s of years all over the world.

            Dru’s is unforgivably bad, but somehow rather charming.

            Wesley’s is perfect.


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            • #7
              My complaints over the representation of Brits in Buffy are primarily twofold. There's the names; Rupert, Wesley, Dierdra, Quentin; personally I know no-one called this at all and I think more normal names somewhere along the line would have been good.


              The second thin, which is more a comment on American depictions of Englishness in general than anything specific, is the way that everyone seems to come from the smae part of England. Where oh where are the scousers, the geordies, the yam-yams and other regional variations. I understand a strong scouse accent might not be all that intelligable to american ears (I have trouble myself from time to time) but the standard accent thing does get tiresome.

              As for the stereotype thing; well that's something that ihink Buffy does exceptionally well introducing you to various stereotypes (Tweedy English guy, Bubblehead Cheerleader, Shy Nerd etc) and then exploding the character out of that stereotype, making them more complex compelling characters. I'd like to think that this is intentional and is actually a way to comment on some of the stereotypes that tend to crop up (or at least tended to crop up) in American telly.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by tangent View Post
                My complaints over the representation of Brits in Buffy are primarily twofold. There's the names; Rupert, Wesley, Dierdra, Quentin; personally I know no-one called this at all and I think more normal names somewhere along the line would have been good.
                A bit more variety would be good definitely ? as you say, not having everyone from London/home counties! Though in terms of those places, the names they've picked for the boys aren't that unusual (I know a Rupert, a Wesley and a Quentin) but the girls' names are more so (then again, Deirdre's presumably in her 40s/50s, so there might be the odd person that age with that name? Not sure though, seems more of a 1930s name). Lydia's not that uncommon I think.

                Where oh where are the scousers, the geordies, the yam-yams and other regional variations. I understand a strong scouse accent might not be all that intelligable to american ears (I have trouble myself from time to time) but the standard accent thing does get tiresome.
                I really wish they'd made Spike a scouser. Partly just cos he's a little like John Constantine and I'd love to see JC on telly.


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                • #9
                  really wish they'd made Spike a scouser. Partly just cos he's a little like John Constantine and I'd love to see JC on telly.
                  I don't know abot making Spike a Scouser, but I would have loved to have seen him as Constantine. I'm sure he would have been marvelous.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sueworld View Post
                    I don't know abot making Spike a Scouser, but I would have loved to have seen him as Constantine. I'm sure he would have been marvelous.
                    Yeah, that'd be good too. I can't believe they gave the part to keanu frakking reeves...

                    I think I'd like to see a tough character who's NOT from London, definitely.


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                    • #11
                      Bear in mind that all stereotypes are true for the most part. They may be understood as rough generalizations based on observation.

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                      • #12
                        Yeah, that'd be good too. I can't believe they gave the part to keanu frakking reeves...
                        With jet black hair and not a raincoat in sight...

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michael View Post
                          Bear in mind that all stereotypes are true for the most part. They may be understood as rough generalizations based on observation.
                          They can be true, of some people. But there's a tendency in US shows to only show a narrow range of English "types" - I think Joss does better than most, and at least doesn't do the awful all-places-in-England-are-the-same schtick like in Frasier, where a brother and sister have a manchester and a london accent respectively, with no comment made about the wildly differeng accents!

                          Though, then again, Drusilla does see a collapse at a pit... in LONDON.


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                          • #14
                            I live just outside London in Hertfordshire and I think we are probably in one of the 'stuffier' places in England but I agree about the names I know no-one called Quentin or Rupert, I also know no one who wears tweed (except my old history teacher ) What I think is quite funny is that Anthony Stewart Head doesn't talk with a 'proper' accent in real life. I think James Marsters is the best American in the show for an English accent (I find it a lot better than Wesley's) because I think American's seem to find it a lot harder to do a middle accent - not common but not posh. (The same can be said for an English person doing an American accent though, I think there is a north and south accent used and that is it) Alexis Denisof's does sound put on sometimes though. The potentials were awful though Molly - what was that accent???? and Annabelle's was OTT posh.

                            I think it would have been interesting to have some young english people in it that were regulars to see how they would have been stereotyped. I don't think teens in England are that much different to American teens but I expect there would be a big difference made in the show.

                            One thing I do agree with though is the tea thing, we really are obsessed with tea (or at least everyone I know is)
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                            • #15
                              It is not so long ago that in war films Germans were always shown speaking English with thick German accents, with the occasional German word, "Acktung Englander! Vere do you zink you are going , yah?" Actually I felt comfortable with those films.

                              In Roman Empire pictures it was the policy to have British actors playing the rulers, or Americans speaking with English upper class accents. I guess the upper class English accent was the authentic voice of what used to be an imperial ruling class, and so there was some credibility there. Nobody has a clue how the Romans really sounded when they were speaking.

                              In BtVS I think Quentin Travers gives a good impression of the fag end of that tradition. He represents that phase in our history when the imperial arrogance remained, but the gunboats had been scrapped to save money.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bloodsucker View Post
                                I did sense some slips (like Spike saying "pants" instead of "trousers" once in S7, while he speaks of shrinking his trousers in Doomed, and a couple of accent slips).
                                That didn't bother me that much, since Spike has been living in America for years and so probably picked up a bit of the language.

                                The slip which really grated for me was the Watchers' Council assassin, fresh off the helicopter from England, saying "Get the gas" in 'Who Are You?'. Instead of a cylinder of propane, say, what he actually got was a can of petrol...

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                                • #17
                                  Good point, Storm.

                                  (Michael, those films annoy me to no end, but being German puts things into a different perspective, of course. )

                                  Isn't Wesley a fairly frequent name? Always thought it was.
                                  As for Rupert... Well, Giles isn't that young anymore, so maybe it was more common back then? Besides, the name just fits the character.

                                  No objection to William though, that was a frequent name in the nineteenth century, just like its German form, Wilhelm, was very common here until the middle of the last century.
                                  Sin is what I feast upon
                                  I'm forging my crematorium
                                  Your tomb is waiting here for you
                                  Welcome to my ritual

                                  -Judas Priest, Death

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                                  • #18
                                    Bloodsucker, the first time I visited Germany I was startled to meet Germans speaking English with American accents. I quickly understood how it happened of course, but I can still feel the frisson. I wish I could find Derrick on dvd somewhere.

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                                    • #19
                                      The slither of Englishness that is in the Buffyverse is interesting. Thinking about it more and more, we only see one window in, i.e. The Watchers Council, which is by all accounts middle-class and London based, so I suppose it's not surprising that the names seem to come from a not-so-distant past.

                                      I mean, I know a lot of Carolines and Kate's but no Lydia's (although I do know some baby Liddys). Nor do I know any Quintines or Ruperts (unless you count a bear), but more Anthonys, Ians and Mikes. Maybe that's my class showing?

                                      However, the council (and at first Giles) is supposed to seem fusty and rigid, so the pointers fit. What's interesting is when the veneer slips a little. I mean, Rupert turns to Ripper and Olivia seems pretty current to me.

                                      What amuses me is when we get the "wet-men" of the council, or say Badger from Firefly. It's like there's only two places to get the Brits from in Whedon's mind, middle-class 1940c-1970c or Victorian raggamufins a la Dickens. It even seems to match with the two slayers...posh or ****ney.

                                      Where are the normal 20s-30s funky Brits? Well....obviously not in Sunnydale.
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Bubblecat View Post
                                        The slither of Englishness that is in the Buffyverse is interesting. Thinking about it more and more, we only see one window in, i.e. The Watchers Council, which is by all accounts middle-class and London based, so I suppose it's not surprising that the names seem to come from a not-so-distant past.
                                        Londoners classes are living in the past, eh? Hey, I have an ipod and everything!

                                        What's interesting is when the veneer slips a little. I mean, Rupert turns to Ripper and Olivia seems pretty current to me.
                                        Although her accent's a bit weird (is she supposed to be scouse??), Olivia's one of the few English characters I can imagine actually appearing on UK telly. To pick a random example (and cos we were watching it the other day), I can imagine her appearing on Party Animals as some kind of journalist. She's more what more English people are really like than the others, who are more like what English people are perceived as (though, the stereotypes can be true - like I said, Wesleys, Quentins and Ruperts are all alive and well and living in south west London ).

                                        What amuses me is when we get the "wet-men" of the council, or say Badger from Firefly. It's like there's only two places to get the Brits from in Whedon's mind, middle-class 1940c-1970c or Victorian raggamufins a la Dickens. It even seems to match with the two slayers...posh or ****ney.
                                        Heh, you said ****.

                                        Gah, Badger makes me so cross. His accent is ridiculous. And the dude's ENGLISH isn't he?? Or maybe he's not and he's Irish and his BSG accent is real? Not sure, anyway, the Dickensian ****ney thing is just silly.

                                        Where are the normal 20s-30s funky Brits? Well....obviously not in Sunnydale.
                                        Well, I suppose it's not exactly a transatlantic NYLon style hub of inter-cultural exchange


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