从“口音”谈种族歧视 (1)

这两天,新加坡的社交媒体上,有个关于 “口音” 而延伸出来的话题,我追踪读了几篇,有些看法,想与大家分享。

事件背景大致如下:有位新加坡的印度裔演员(名 Shrey Bhargava),去参加了梁智强的新戏《新兵正传 4》(Ah Boys to Men 4)的试镜。回来后,他在一篇短文里,发出了心声。

他写得很冷静,陈述了试镜时的一些要求(要求他使用更夸张、更具印度风味的口音,虽然戏里的角色是一位说本地话的新加坡军人),后来,他经过反省后,心有不安,觉得受到了委屈,于是写出了身为一名新加坡少数民族的演员的内心话。

rubik-cube

他认为,在演戏里,加强对其他种族(如印度人)的刻板形象,来迎合某种族群的要求,这样的“幽默” 和 “笑料” 是有问题的,是应该检讨的。

搞笑,是谁在笑谁?也许,你会说,这不过是部喜剧,干嘛那么认真嘛?说这样的话的,大部分是华人。 Shrey 是印度裔,他的人生轨迹和我们不一样,他来自一个少数族群的文化,属于弱势文化,身处在其他的强势文化下,在他的成长过程中,一定经历过许多我们无法理解的事,也承受过各种歧视(例如,语言歧视)。

因此,他的心声,代表他个人的深刻感受,值得我们外人去感受和理解。

可是,网路上有许多人(尤其是华人),对他进行人身攻击,否定他的感受,认为他在做假宣传借以提高知名度。也有很多人认为,笑笑无妨,看戏干嘛那么认真呢?你干嘛那么轻易受伤呢?你不会演戏,你的演艺事业完蛋了种种。可是,我觉得,Shrey Bhargava 的文字,反映的是一个更深刻、更严重的问题,那就是多元社会里的种族歧视问题。

种族歧视(在个人、文化、社会结构各层面上)是个很复杂的问题。Shrey Bhargava 提出了一个现象,一个存在已久的现象,不管你喜不喜欢这位演员,他提出的问题也许会令一些人感到不舒服(“你竟敢说我们歧视你?” “你干嘛那么敏感?” “我们各种族和谐相处,你竟然挑拨种族情绪?”…),但是,这些问题刺激思考。如果你是一位成熟的读者,可以尝试从他的角度看问题,去理解他的出发点,去体会在强势文化下的少数民族的处境。

Shrey Bhargava 的心声,不是表面的 “会不会说印度口音” 的问题。他提出的思考,挑战了我们的思维。我们的语言、肢体语言、想法,是否有尊敬他人,是否有在有意和无意之间轻蔑他人的文化和传统?我们是否有先天的民族优越感,这样的优越感是否让我们失去了敏锐之心,漠视了他人的原始感情?

我把 Shrey Bhargava 的内容浓缩如下:(原文链接:Shrey Bhargava

他说,戏里的新加坡军人说新加坡式英语 (Singlish),可是,他演完后,导演却叫他演得更像典型的印度人,要有浓重的口音,要 funny。

Shrey 有所感触,他说:“…要我扮演滑稽的种族角色,我被缩小成为一种口音,因为这样就会很搞笑。那就是他们电影里所要的。新加坡电影里的多元化,我想,就是饰演刻板角色,让主要族群觉得很好笑。”

“那似乎是说,我仿佛不够像 “印度人”。”

“我心想要拒绝表演,想对他们说,他们有权力选择不要把某种印度口音,强加在他们的印度人角色里,好让这个角色更像道地的新加坡人,但是,我没有这么做。于是,我在表演时用了假印度口音。过后,我感到极度难受。”

“离开会场时我感到十分反感。我的国家对我的理解,只停留在我的肤色上,以及他们认为我应该说话的方式上…”

“…我希望不管这部电影最终选用哪位演员,他们能够坚持使用他们自然的新加坡口音(偏向于印度口音,但不是饱满的印度口音),而不是采用假口音去满足这个国家常见的,带有种族歧视的幽默。”

Shrey 继续说,“电影塑造我们对于社会议题、对国家、对他人的想法、观点和情感,影响重大。现在是 2017 年,改变的时刻到来了。我们不应该延续刻板印象。我们必须开始理解到新加坡绝对不是一个华人的国家。这是一个多元种族,多语的国家。”

“我们必须意识到这一点,让我们的电影反映现实,不鼓励制造刻板印象,而是加强一个新加坡的认同感。…”

“在我自己的国家里,我不应该感觉到自己像个外国人。”

Shrey Bhargava

“So, I just finished my audition for Ah Boys to Men 4, and this is what happened inside the casting room:

After completing one full take of the audition script, playing a soldier with a Singaporean accent who spoke in colloquial Singlish, I was asked by the casting director to make it ‘a full blown Indian man’.

Now, I get it, casting directors give directions to see if actors can follow them, but really, asking me to be more Indian even after I performed the scene in a completely Singaporean way and talked as most Singaporeans would (even Indian Singaporeans)?

I said “but not all Indians in Singapore speak with a thick Indian accent”

And she just responded with “but that’s what we want. And make it funny”

So I was told to portray a caricature of my race. I was reduced to my accent, because that’s what made it funny. That’s what they wanted for the film. Diversity in Singaporean film, I guess comes down to playing stereotypes so the majority race can find it amusing.

And also it seemed as though I was just not ‘Indian’ enough.

I wanted to decline to perform and say that they had the power to choose not to force an Indian accent on their Indian character, because that’d make them more authentically Singaporean, but I didn’t. I did it. I put on a fake Indian accent and performed and it felt horrible.

I left the room feeling disgusted. That I was seen by my country as nothing more than the color of my skin and the way they think I ought to speak. Most Singaporean Indians I know do not speak with a full blown Indian accent, so I don’t see why, a film, part of a franchise now known to be inseparably part of our national culture, needs to have an Indian character only if he is a stereotype.

I don’t know if I’ll be cast or not. And right now, that’s besides the point. I hope that whoever they cast will choose to stick to the natural Singaporean accent they have (which may lean towards Indian but doesn’t have to be full blown) instead of adopt a fake one just to feed the racist humor our country thrives on.

Films play a very important role in shaping our ideas, perceptions and feelings towards social issues, our country and each other. It’s 2017 and it’s time for us to change. We cannot keep perpetuating stereotypes. We must begin to recognize that Singapore is NOT a Chinese country. We are multiracial, and multilingual.

We must recognize that and make films that reflect our reality. Films that discourage stereotypes and reinforce our one Singaporean identity. If films are made that have Indian characters that speak with normal Singaporean accents, then people will not be given a chance to believe that all Singaporean Indians speak in a certain stereotypical way.

I do not deserve to feel like a foreigner in my own country.

Anyway, I hope speaking out about this leads to some much needed discussions about what is right and acceptable in the media we consume and whether it’s time to re-evaluate what diversity means to us.

Whatever happened today reminded me of an episode from Aziz Ansari’s Master of None called Indians on TV, where Aziz’s character, Dev, faced the exact same situation. I wonder if I too should have been more adamant in not wanting to perform with an accent. Maybe I should have, and I chickened out. I have internalized the racism I have faced against me and it shows. But I’m working hard to reverse its effects. Hopefully this post is a step towards it.

Also, I was asked if I was local the moment I stepped into the audition room – I assume because I am not as dark as they think I should be and also because of my natural accent.

But mind you, I was wearing my Smart 4 all along…”

checkmate

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Janet Williams 張玉雲

I am Janet Williams, an academic living in the southeast of England. I blog about culture, history, languages and my community. I created Chandler's Ford Today. During my spare time, I make Origami. Thank you for stopping by.

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