I always thought foreign accents were cool, especially the American one. Having grown up watching Disney Channel and other TV shows and movies from Hollywood, it just appeared cool.
But that was until the day I started attending extra tuition classes at a tuition center back at my hometown.
There were not only kids from my school, but also from other schools in and around Taiping who were all pursuing straight 'A's for the upcoming public examinations in this God-forbidden exam-oriented education system.
Everyone got along really well. The kids from vernacular school were rather quiet and cliquish at first, but as you get to know them, you know they would talk to you whenever necessary. The rowdies from the all-boys schools were usually left alone to mingle among themselves as nobody dared make friends with such people.
And then there were the self-proclaimed Disney princesses of our society, all from a certain prestigious local girls school. They never talked to anyone else from other schools, which made them appear exclusive. Some dressed in the skimpiest of clothes, rather risque for girls living in a moderately conservative Malaysian town like Taiping. Most of them hardly tied their hair, so they could push it to the back of their ears flirtatiously whenever they were around boys.
And they spoke with heavy British or American accents. Plastics.
As much as some perverts; meaning those rowdies I mentioned earlier, and even some of my own schoolmates, would pursue these plastics, most of their attempts proved unsuccessful. It's simply because these plastics rather choose to play hard to get. That's what the perverts say. Well, they deserve it for sure.
Now back to the fake accent. It suddenly occurred to me how annoying and irritating it actually is, especially when someone uses it on a daily basis. It's one thing to be well articulated, and it is another to fake an accent. I have never faked an accent before, except while playing with my younger siblings and cousins, where we would sometimes reenact a famous scene from some movie.
But these younger ones started assuming the accent was something elite. I suppose it gave them an air of a certain class. It made them stand out from the other kids at school who spoke broken English, or maybe even Malay or Tamil.
I was not about to let that happen. I wouldn't want to be associated with plastics. No.
So, I brought this case to the higher authorities - my mum, dad, uncles and aunts. Maybe they never noticed it before, or maybe they thought it was cute all along. But after I pointed out how much the fake accents annoyed me, it suddenly opened their eyes to the truth! It was annoying to them too!
I mean, it was bad enough we mostly spoke English at home, and in turn spoke terrible Tamil. Now, everyone was faking American accents? Oh no. No. No. No. No. My parents were not about to let that happen. I had no idea they were going to take it so seriously. But they suddenly banned my younger brother from watching Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens and That's So Raven - his favourite TV shows! Go mum and dad!
As for my cousins; their father went all out when he publicly embarrassed one of his daughters during a family gathering by raising his voice at her, saying: "Drop the fake accent-lah! You think its nice? It makes you look like a chicken in a chicken farm trying too hard to roar like a lion, you know!" Wow! Good one! Nice metaphor by the way. Haha!
The accents stopped immediately. I suspect all the family elders had secret meetings in the living room of grandma's house where they discussed this accent problem while we little ones were out playing. But never mind that. The accents made a sudden comeback after we returned home from vacation in Rome in 2005, except this time it was British, thanks to Harry Potter and Narnia movies. But that was only temporary, thanks the the elders' drastic measures.
Eventually the accents stopped completely. But nobody did anything to improve our Tamil. Our youngest cousin, whose mother; my aunt, was a Tamil teacher and tried to raise him up by speaking Tamil at home. But that didn't work out. I mean, he is surrounded by us! All brown backsides speaking English, as my late grandpa once said. Well, at least the fake accent is out of the picture for now.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against people with foreign accents. I think these different accents are cute actually. It shows diversity, and the origins of one's identity. It is when a Malaysian, who having grown up among Malaysians, and have been to Malaysian schools, in a country called Malaysia, all of a sudden miraculously has a British or American accent - now that is simply annoying. I've never said this straight to anyone's face, apart from my own siblings and cousins since their upbringing is partly my responsibility. But I am entitled to my opinion, just like anyone else.
Faking an accent might give a person a certain ego to appear more urbanized, or even westernized then the common Malaysian. So, this provides them with that extra boost of confidence to operate in society better. But then as they always say, when you appear too plain, what do you do?
These fake accents are nothing more than accessories; like handbags, watches and jewelry. They are mostly just for show.