Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Yikes-o-rama

I saw this Supernanny show for the first time last night.

We're at the point in my History of the English Language course (or HEL class, as we like to call it) where we're studying dialects. I always start with British dialects: I show the students about ten minutes from A Hard Day's Night and about fifteen or twenty from Genesis: A Songbook, stopping frequently to inject such witty and insightful comments as, "Now listen here, he's dropping his H's, " or "See how his accent is different from the rest of them? He's Cockney, and they're all very RP, d'you hear the difference?"

Anyway, after that, I send them out to "collect" accents. They have to watch some British films or some TV shows with British actors on them and make notes on the accents and turn in reports to me about these accents. I usually give them a list of about ten movies and shows they can watch -- shows and movies I know, so that I'll be able to judge what kind of a job they're doing on the results: Bend it Like Beckham, My Fair Lady, Love Actually, Monty Python, that sort of thing. But yesterday one of them asks can she use Supernanny.

"Well, what sort of accent has Supernanny got?" I asked. "Is it RP?"

"I don't think so," the student said. "She says asseptible and stuff. I don't think that's upperclass, is it?"

"Well, even if not RP, you could still use it," I said. "Let me watch it, anyway."

So last night the kid and I watched it.

And can I say for the record we were APPALLED.

Not at the Supernanny. She seems very nice. We liked her a lot. (Accent seems to be middle-class London, BTW. Does say asseptible, but only under stress, does tend to drop her g's, but likewise, doesn't drop her h's, is non-rhotic, so I'm thinking middle to working class London, but if anyone actually knows, could you let me know?)

No, the appalling part was the family.

More specifically, the parents, who just let the three kids do whatever they wanted.

Supernanny had to, before she left the house, literally had to teach the mother how to say no. The mother did not know how to say no to her children. Suppernanny sat down with her and gave her lessons on how to say, "No. Don't do that." "No. Stop that." "No, that is not all right."

Because? Previous to these lessons? Mom couldn't do that. Kids just slammed each other around, knocked each other off tricycles, ate with their hands, jumped on the furniture like monkeys, and mom would say, now and then, in this helpless voice, "What are you doing? What is this? What's going on here?" But never, "No! Cut it out!"

My kid watched in shocked horror, especially the scenes in the supermarket. "These kids are horrible," she confided to me. "These are worse than the pre-schoolers at my school!"

"Don't worry," I said. "Supernanny will fix them."

And she did.

Supernanny is now the kid's hero.

1 comment:

dianna said...

I too find Super Nanny to be interesting. It made me laugh when she had the mom practicing her low voice authority voice and then her high supportive voice...

I wouldn't want the nanny in my house though! no, no, no.