Since then, Trump’s ascent has only gotten steeper, forcing one after another political “expert”, talking head and pundit (it is unclear if the Huffington Post still covers Trump in its Entertainment section) to throw in the towel, and admit they have no idea how to read the American public.
Things only got worse for the GOP faithful when it was revealed that the man who was considered a frontrunner for the primary post, Jeb Bush, now appears to have run out of money. Earlier today Politico reported that Jeb Bush ordered across-the-board pay cuts to his struggling presidential campaign and warned staff that job functions would change.
Feynman’s accent, one of America’s more stigmatized, becomes a strength rather than a weakness. It is a sad fact that we easily underestimate people because of their accents. But in Feynman’s case, this prejudice becomes an advantage: his students are perhaps disarmed, feeling they are talking to a man on the street rather than a stuffy professor.
But what stood out to me—and what makes this different from all the old!Feynman videos I’ve seen—is the persona his younger self projects. Born and raised in Queens, the young Feynman comes across, at least in accent and physical mannerisms, like some big mafia palooka straight out of central casting. Most likely, my startled reaction to this is due to Midwestern bias and being raised in an era where American regional differences in accent and culture have been largely flattened out. But it’s still fascinating … and amusing as hell to hear a guy who looks and sounds like he should be guarding hostages or threatening shop owners instead talking about gravitational theory.
Actually, Feynman was a famous safecracker. He would have fitted into New York’s underworld very easily, I imagine.
Now I suspect that that other notable New Yorker, Donald Trump, who hails from Brooklyn/Queens, may also have the same or similar ‘stigmatized’ accent as Feynman, and it may be this which acts as an impediment (and also an advantage) to his acceptance.
I’m sure if there was a British politician who sounded like he came from London’s East End gangland culture (Michael Caine?), I’d probably hesitate to put my cross next to his name. Or conversely, if I was sick enough of the UK political class (which I am), I’d be more than happy to put my cross next to it.
Which reminds me that Nigel Farage’s accent isn’t exactly Standard BBC English. And that might be a bit of a turn-off for the overly sensitive.
Various US and UK accents: