There’s a certain kind of mannered “attitude acting” among under-30 actresses that’s been driving me vaguely nuts for the last decade or so. Megan Fox heavily relies on this affected speaking style (as the video below indicates) but real actresses like Amanda Seyfried and Zoe Kazan resist it. It’s a style of delivery and a tone of voice that basically conveys mock-haughty, insolent smirk and contemptuous put-on.
It’s basically an underlying attitude that says “what you’re saying right now is, like, such a turn-off for me? It’s such a total turn-off, I mean, that I’ve decided to eliminate even the faintest trace of emotional sincerity in my reedy Minnie Mouse voice? As in, like, I’m saying the words but you’re not there and, uhm, neither am I?
“Even when I’m relaxed among friends and just, you know, talking shit and killing time because nobody cares and we’re all hangin’ back? Even then I’m going to use these ‘no way…you’re sitting there and telling me you’re actually serious?’ inflections. Because I can’t help it. It’s part of me and my friends and our whole generational ‘you are so not getting through to me’ attitude.
“So when things get dramatic and confrontational in a movie I’m going to just, like, cock my head and arch my eyebrows and speak in a beyond cynical, convulsed-with-disgust ‘I can’t believe I’m lowering myself to even speak to you’ sing-songy tone and pretend to be someone else in a ‘how dumb or disgusting can you be because I’m, like, so pretending to be someone else right now’? sort of way.
“Or else I’ll faintly smile and use one of those serene-robot gazes as I pledge loyalty or compliance or obedience. Which we both know is total bullshit but it’s fun to pretend to be a fake Stepford wife as a way of letting you know that’ll never happen.
“Because my contempt for you and guys who always seem to say the kind of stuff you’re saying has become, like, extra-refined. I’ve got an attitude shell that you’ll never penetrate…forget it. Even when I’m throwing my head back and laughing with my friends at Starbucks, it never leaves.”
This speaking style is so persistent and widespread that it obviously comes from within in a cultural-generational sense that’s almost, well, genetic. It’s noticable among both genders but particularly, or so it seems, among younger women. It’s related to generic Minnie Mouse mall-speak, which you never used to hear in the ’70s or ’80s or ’90s but is absolutely ubiquitous now.
If I was an acting teacher I would tell my female GenY students to completely rid themselves of this “I’m not there” tone in their speaking manner — to identify it and slaughter it and bury the carcass deep. I would make them watch DVD clips of real actresses letting go in a real way until the differences between emoting from the heart (or at least from an intelligent mind with the use of a sizable vocabulary) and smugly mannered squeak-squeak “attitude acting” is coming out of their ears.