The other night the husband and I watched the film In Time and I noticed something a little strange; one of the villains was British. It’s not strange in itself that he was British, however he was the only British character in a film that took place in a dystopian American city. How did this British guy get plopped right in the middle of a society that he obviously wasn’t born in? Simple, he was inherently evil!
Now, I’m not saying that the British are inherently evil. However, it seems like filmmakers seem to think that they exude this special kind of malice. When they are casting for films they think ‘How can I make this character even more evil than he already is?’. They think for maybe 5 minutes and come up with the brilliant idea that somebody with a British accent is needed. After they get that idea they have the choice of either a posh accent or a non posh accent. This isn’t necessarily an easy decision, because depending on the accent their character will be simply bad or extraordinarily evil. Let’s look at both types of accents and characters.
THE POSH ACCENT
British people who possess a posh accent are for the most part people who are wealthy, people who are pretending they are wealthy or those who just happen to live in an upwardly mobile area that aren’t wealthy. For filmmakers a posh accent can encompass anybody from a person who happens to live in west London to a member of royalty.
What I have noticed is that an evil character who has a posh British accent quite frequently has plans to take over the world. In other words the characters who have this accent have plans that are greater than anybody else. These accents automatically give their bearer the superhuman power of being intelligent enough to come up with these grandiose plans. Why? Because they possess a posh accent and you don’t! They have had better schooling and better opportunities at life and they are using these to their fullest extent. Grabbing evil by the throat they are using this intelligence to get what they want. It could be some land, money, women, or all of the gold bars on planet Earth. It doesn’t matter, they are dangerous because they know they are dangerous, and they exude an air of moral superiority.
THE NON POSH ACCENT
British people who speak with a non posh type of accent can be from a anywhere in Britain. Be it from Yorkshire or the West Country the one thing filmmakers know is that they are not posh, since they have chosen to retain their accents. They can lave a lavish lifestyle, but when it comes down to it they have risen from off the streets.
Those British villains without a posh accent are quite frequently trying to move up in the world. They have come from lowly beginnings and are using their wits and skills to try to make their cash in any fashion that they can. It can even be a character from the wrong side of the tracks who will do anything to become famous; using anonymous people, friends and just about anybody else. That is not to say that the non posh British villain can’t be smart, because of course he can be. Rather than having an expensive education they have earned their skills from the streets. Because of all of this the non posh accented British villain can be even more deadly than his counterpart. He is hungry and wants more.
There are of course exceptions to some of these rules. Once in a while you will come across a movie villain who has a posh British accent but who is slumming. This character has come from a wealthy family but has become a black sheep and is now just a bank robber or such. Then there are the ones who are the head of crime organizations who have posh accents even though they have come from the streets. I know that doesn’t make sense, blame the filmmakers not me!
One thing that every film villain who is British, no matter what the accent, exudes while on the screen is sex. Yes, women in film audiences do find British accents hot. This is a truth that cannot be denied. I suppose that this only holds true for countries that are not inherently British. I mean, a British accent isn’t going to be hot to you if you already live in Britain. I’m American and American accents don’t do a thing for me at all. So, the British villain is cool to the guys watching because the character comes across as a suave or dangerous man who can get all the ladies and cash that he needs. While to women he is the epitome of sex appeal. Basically when filmmakers include a British villain they can’t lose because they are making the villain appeal to both of the sexes.
British villains will always be a staple in films and long may they reign!