Sunday, 22 November 2015

Being Fake Southern

I noticed in the news this morning that someone was there in Memphis to attend the rally for Hillary, and noticed her fake-but-realistic southern accent.

Forty years ago....having a southern accent was a negative thing and people tended to lose it as they migrated out of the south.  These are people who learned a neutral accent.

Developing a fake accent?  It's hard to do this in some accurate fashion.  I've seen Bill Clinton at work and Bill simply shifts back and forth.  He never really lost his accent....he just coupled his southern accent with some neutral words, and continued on.  As much as you consider Bill a national guy.....he's a southerner when it comes to speech.

One of the worst southern accents I've heard over the past two decades is President Obama.  When he's shifted over and tries to deliver some speech....using the fake southern accent.....he comes off looking foolish.  I tend to think the same thing with Hillary because she'll get two or three sentences into some speech.....then revert back to neutral talk for a sentence or two, then revert back to southern chat.

Years ago, I came back to Alabama for a visit and was going to buy some updated clothing (something that I rarely do) and went to a men's shop near the town where I grew up.  I was about half-way through this sizing and selection process when this fifty-year-old gal came up to offer help.  The accent was about 200-percent of the typical average southern accent that I was used to.  I actually had to stand there for about ten seconds....trying to analyze the words and translate these in my mind.

After that experience, I came to realize there are probably a dozen different southern levels.  I brought this up one day with someone in the office who grew up in the region around Savannah, Georgia.  They had gone 'neutral' years ago but could readily shift back to Savannah-twang.  With thirty seconds of Savannah dialog....I had to admit that I barely understood half of what he said.

In the case of Hillary's speech....she's trying to infer to the crowd that she's one of them.  The fakeness of the deal?  Well.....most people would sit there and just shake their head.  If they wanted one of the "them" as President.....they would have run one of their own people with the real accent for the office of President.

How desperate are we to hear the fake southern accent and get all hyped up over the accent?  That's the thing.  If you sat and asked a hundred southerners about this.....they generally have this image in their mind of some 'carpetbagger' (that's an 1800's term for a fraudulent political figure whose come to town to tell them their woes and how only they can fix the problems at hand).  

Any chance that Trump will use a fake southern accent?  No.  That's something you can bet on.

I'm not really against the Hillary southern accent presentation.....if she thinks it'll help her, then fine.  But I suspect that people will just walk out of the arena after hearing the speech and keep thinking.....man, it just wasn't that good of a fake accent.

I'm waiting for the help-desk guru's to dream up their newest gimmick for Indian-help desk technicians when you call them up.....using a southern accent and dialog.....trying to make Americans feel charmed and ultra-comfortable with the repair or technical support.

Bottom line?  We are a crazy society where fraudulent accents seem to matter.  And being fake-southern seems to matter in this little world.

Chancellor Talk

For some reason, the University of Missouri continues to be in the news.  You'd think by now that they'd burned up most national interest.....but apparently there is still more trouble.

Late Friday.....the university governing body met and had this discussion.  It was over the way that they will handle the decision process of who will become the next chancellor, and the president at the other campus in Columbia.  If you remember the details....both gentlemen handed in their resignations.

This Board met and allowed student input.  So students came forward and said they want input into the decision process.....something that no university in the US has ever allowed.  They weren't finished.....they also wanted improvements on non-white students, and better treatment of graduate students (higher stipends, more affordable housing, paternity and maternity leave, and adequate health care).

The Board?  It's made up of eight members.....two women, six men.  All appointed by the governor.  I looked over their 'resumes' via the university site.  These are all highly educated people.....people with professions, and a long list of accomplishments.

It's hard to imagine that you'd turn a Chancellor-recruitment episode into a very open process where it's more than eight people deciding upon the next guy.  The last thing on Earth you'd do.....is allow thirty-odd thousand college students to be part of the process.  In a matter of weeks, you could turn the university into some large forum of frustrated people who think they "own" the university.

The curious thing that might step up next.....is that the state assembly or legislature wants to be part of the recruitment episode......then the general public of Missouri.

Generally, when you recruit some Chancellor.....you want some individual who has had past experience and demonstrated himself or herself as competent.

Why limit this process to only the Chancellor?  Why not open the door for the football coach, the basketball coach, etc.....to be student-participation as well?  Why not open the door and allow the students to pick professors to be fired or hired?

There's a reason why you want some sixty-year-old people to be on a board and to be responsible for the actions required.  If you turn this process into a circus.....parents will recognize that, and voice concern that their kids are going to a marginal two-star university.  By summer of next year, the new freshman group on the list to attend in the fall might be only seventy-percent of what is expected.  A lot of students don't realize the negativity that can be attached to a university has consequences.

There's been talk since the day that the Chancellor resigned....that the students had this idea over their "insider" (Micheal Middleton), who is now acting as the temporary Chancellor until the board determines the full replacement.  There is a suggestion that the students just want the Board to rubber-stamp Middleton as the permanent guy and avoid any review of outside possibilities.  The issue will be pay structure, and Middleton might come up to ask for a twenty-five percent pay increase over what they paid the last guy, and that won't work......unless of course, the students jerk people around to demand it.

For some reason, I just don't have much faith that this University of Missouri episode will come to a successful conclusion.