Accents are funny. We take the piss out of everyone we know or see on TV or anywhere else and we use strange voices to make it more ridiculous so when we include someone else’s accent and highlight the differences between ours and theirs, it’s even more funny. We ALL do it. Mostly in the privacy of our close circles but we do.
I often put on an American accent or variations on the UK accents – of which there are many – and it’s funny. Everyone I know tries it as well with varying degrees of accuracy. The bad imitations are funny too just because they’re so bad. But when anyone does a Pakistani accent – people get scared. Now, to be clear, I’m no connoisseur of Asian voices so I don’t know if someone’s trying a Pakistani or Indian or whatever. All I know is that I get those ‘move away’ feeling when someone else does the voice. Not due to the country being imitated but some learned response to another person ‘perhaps’ being racist.
Why?? Why is this such a strong taboo? Is this something confined to Europe or does the USA have the same problem? Certainly not in their comedy shows but then they have an entire character that uses the voice and can be as good or bad as any other one. Having said that, they definitely laugh at the accent too. That can’t be any better or worse than here.
Now be strong here and listen carefully – I am not condoning laughing at someone from Pakistan or any other country. All I’m saying is that this particular voice, either done silly or done normally, has a lot of heavy baggage. Why not the same for doing a Geordie or Saaaf Laandon? Maybe a Texan or New Yorker would also be put out? But no, that’s all safe. Why?
I guess I’m more interested as a social thing than a moan since it’s a problem that can carry a dividing barrier with it that excludes people from being included in the bigger family and that’s an awful thing. No matter where you are from or what you sound like, everyone should be able to make harmless fun of you. It’s an inclusive rather than exclusive thing.