Under down

Friday, April 22, 2011

Australia. Everyone I know who has been there says it's well worth the hours and hours spent living in a jet to get there.

I suppose if I went to Australia I'd tell everyone back home what a wonderful place it is instead of admitting that I just wasted thousands of dollars. That's the way we are when we spend big bucks: We have to find ways to justify it.

The only thing I know about Australia is that it must be the worst continent on Earth for actors. That would explain why they have all spent hours and hours living on a jet to get here.

Almost every TV show and a good many movies these days feature Australian actors. Good actors, too. So good that they can do Brooklyn accents or sound more like a California native than folks who were born there and have lived there all their lives.

But the Aussies also do fantastic Australian accents too. Which is why you hear them almost every time you buy a movie ticket or turn on your favorite cop show or doctor show.

If you're a fan of "House," you not only get an Australian in a key role, but also a Brit who delivers his lines in flawless American. "House," by the way, is the show that attempts to prove each week that, under the tutelage of an insane drug-addicted doctor, the cure is much, much worse than whatever undiagnosed disease you have.

I am not complaining about Australian actors. I wish them well. I'm impressed that they are in such demand that anyone with a good Down Under delivery is guaranteed a job.

I am a bit surprised, however, that some TV shows as venerable as "Victory Garden" have been colonized by Aussies. Does that sound American to you?

Now that most every Australian actor has a decent TV or movie gig, isn't it time for someone -- that would be yours truly -- to point out how hackneyed token Australian actors have become? Isn't it time for a new twist?

Let's start by sending tomorrow's would-be stars from Sikeston to New York and Hollywood. There's a fresh sound: practical Southern inflections with hidden Northern influences -- a product of a Civil War and a state that never quite made a case for the North or the South.

Let's face it. The one thing that sticks out in TV and movies like a sore thumb is a fake Southern accent. Many have tried. All have failed. Miserably. Some native Southerners who have made it as actors have been told to tone down their easy-to-listen-to drawl. They have actually been told to do the same fake Southern accent as actors from Chicago or Sydney are told to imitate. Dreadful.

Or how about this: How about an authentic Killough Valley mutter? I'm available. And no one can talk like a native of those Ozark hills over yonder any better than I can. Want to hear?

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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