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We seem more obsessed with analyzing accents than ever before. Voice coaches draw millions of views for videos critiquing accents.
While there is a key to mastering an accent successfully, the real challenge for actors is being able to speak in such a way that it serves clarity and maintains authenticity.
Accents are part of the broader debate about representation in film and TV. Film and television are now available for screen-grabs and sound clips that allow us to reflect over performances for embarrassing mistakes.
The days when English-speaking actors put on accents and told the world they were Russian or German are over. The idea of an accent that is just a 'funny voice' is increasingly unacceptable, particularly one of a different nationality to the actor.
Recently, an option seems to be ignoring authenticity completely and have actors perform in their native intonation. The hope is that the focus on the accent will fade away and cause viewers to stop caring about it.
The focus is more about being authentic to the essence of the story, rather than every tiny detail.
Speech systems, rather than accents or dialects, should take into consideration the diversity of human speech and acknowledge how voices are informed by age, gender, time and cultural context.
A speech system without a full exploring of the context will come over as fake.
How we judge accents often comes down to how important we think authenticity is.
Authenticity is probably not an essential element in a story. What we believe about a story is more important than what country or region a character sounds like they're from.
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