Martin Chilton of The Telegraph wrote a piece yesterday about Mel Gibson‘s accent in the upcoming film, The Beaver, in which Mel adopts a Cockney accent. Here’s the trailer:
Chilton, perturbed by Gibson’s accent, had this to say about it:
Although his accent may escape a critical battering in America it will simply amuse anyone in England who knows a London accent (without the requirement of having been born within earshot of the Bow Bells). Gibson’s sounds like someone who has been up all night trying to blend Ray Winstone’s heavy gangster gruffness with the dulcet tones of Genial Harry Grout from Porridge in the 1970s.
I never thought the day would come when I would defend Mel Gibson, but I call BS on Chilton’s piece. First of all, there is no single “London Accent” to serve as a benchmark. There’s Cockney, Multi-Cultural London English, Estuary, and various permutations of Received Pronunciation. As a (semi-retired) actor, nothing grates on my nerves more than locals of some city referring to a kind of mythical, monolithic dialect that we should all be familiar with.
Secondly, Gibson speaks maybe four sentences in this trailer. And frankly? His accent isn’t that bad. I have some quibbles (a Cockney probably wouldn’t tap the “t” in “better), but let’s not bring up the terrifying specter of Dick Van Dyke‘s chimney sweep. This is not in same class of awfulness as that.
And lastly, is it too much to ask for a few specifics in articles like these? Like, I get this is a fluff piece taking some rich movie star to task for his stab at an accent, but if we’re so knowledgeable about said accent, can we maybe elaborate on what is so offensive to our ears?