I’m sure you’ve noticed Hollywood’s tendency to use actors with British accents when portraying a villain, right? No matter the genre, from cartoons to thrillers, British accent bad guys “mysteriously” appear even in settings where no other is British. But have you ever wondered why is this accent often associated with evil in movies?
Let’s find out.
According to the study The Good, the Bad, and the Foreign: The Use of Dialect in Children’s Animated Television by Julia R. Dobrow and Calvin L. Gidney, the accent itself has many features that are a perfect for a villain. Queen’s English make people appear “more educated, intelligent, competent, physically attractive, and generally of a higher socioeconomic class.” This makes it more likely for an audience to believe that the character can easily pull off its evil plans as they are not trustworthy. (the article continues after the ad)
This also explains why many royal figures (such in Game of Thrones for example) have British accents as this makes them look like they belong to the upper class (remember when we talked about how the difference in English accents appeared in the first place?). But there’s one more thing.
It’s called “standard language ideology” and is basically the fact that speakers of the standard form (in this case American English) are considered to have no accent at all. This creates the perception that people with accent are “outsiders” and therefore more threatening. And that is why in British films, the villain role is often given to Germans, French or even Americans.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Why Do Americans And British Have Different Accents?
Main Article Photo: Orion Pictures, HBO
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: VERY BRITISH VILLAINS (AND OTHER ANGLO-SAXON ATTITUDES TO ACCENTS) | British accents are perfect for film villains because it makes them appear less trustworthy, expert claims | Evil Brit