Queen's English succumbs to draw of the drawl

By Alan Simon ( China Daily ) Updated: 2009-04-01 09:01:06

Hollywood send-up Tropic Thunder is worth seeing just to figure out how Robert Downey Jr. (from New York) earned an Oscar nomination by playing a foreigner (Australian) pretending to be something else (African-American).

Downey's was one of many hilarious performances but among them was one that wasn't. "Please allow me ta intra-doos maa-self," thundered the American drawl on one of the movie's 23 old pop tracks. "Aam a maaan of wealth and taste."

The singer, you may know, was Sir Mick Jagger, who comes from Dartford near Saff London and is as much American as Jackie Chan. In fact, "Rubber Lips" has earned fame and fortune for singing like an American for nearly half a century. A man of wealth, sure. But taste? If the idea offends Jagger or his fans, I must say I have no sympathy for the devil.

Nor are the Brits alone in their shameless mimicry. The Aussies are at it, too, whether it be their top country singer, Casey Cambers, Hollywood darling Nicole Kidman or old-time rockers like AC/DC. They're all would-be Yanks. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

The Brits have always excelled in movies and pop music but in the latter at least, success has often come in return for pretending not to be British.

Having a No 1 hit in America has been a yardstick for overseas success ever since Beatlemania gripped the States in 1964 - and nearly all who followed them have won over their hosts by imitating them.

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