This book reveals how marginalized communities and women are underrepresented on our screens and, too often, depicted in stereotypical ways. This is doubly true for marginalized speakers—those who speak traditionally “nonstandard” dialects. Lindsey Clouse examines the origins of linguistic prejudice and how our public schools perpetuate the myth of “bad” English. By dissecting the 500 top-grossing films of the last 20 years, Clouse exposes how speakers of Black English, Southern U.S. English, Spanish-influenced English, and gendered speech patterns are represented, underrepresented, misrepresented, and mocked. Clouse analyzes hundreds of films and characters to reveal how filmmakers and audiences work together to reinforce negative beliefs about stigmatized dialects and the people who speak them and reveals how those beliefs stack up against decades of linguistic research. She concludes by showing that these portrayals translate to real-life linguistic discrimination and discusses the ways in which we can combat this often-hidden prejudice. Scholars of introductory sociolinguistics, american dialect studies, and media studies, will find this book of particular interest.
Lindsey Clouse is instructor of English at Western Dakota Technical College and Black Hills State University in Rapid City, South Dakota.
List of Table
About the Author
Chapter 1: Introduction: “You know something, you’re smart, if you would just deign to speak English"
Chapter 2: “She pretty. And she talk good too”: Black English and Its Speakers
Chapter 3: “You ain’t from around here, are you?”: White Southern U.S. English
Chapter 4: “You need to work on that accent, Pablo”: Spanish, Spanish-Accented English, and Spanish-Influenced English
Chapter 5: “It’s like whatever”: Gendered Speech Patterns and Mock White Girl
Chapter 6: “We ain’t come this far”: Conclusions
Appendix A: List of Films by Estimated Number of Tickets Sold
Appendix B: Suggestions for Further Reading
"Clouse's cross-genre look at pop culture representations of dialect and accent as encoded proxies for tightly held cultural beliefs and stereotypes about race and identity goes beyond the superficial questions we ask ourselves as filmgoers and media-consumers — Why do the heros have mainstream accents? Why does the racist character have a southern accent in Chicago? With a thorough synthesis of data and a stark reveal of the jaundiced and mis-representational linguistic and lexical crutches of Hollywood's entertainment-makers, Clouse makes a compelling case that even shows praised for their authenticity reveal motives for entertainment at the cost of linguistic accuracies."