Feb. 27th, 2012

lazypadawan: (devil)
As noted on Facebook and Twitter, I did not watch the Oscars. So it was this morning when I got wind of something Chris Rock had said during the show about voice actors. In summary, Rock was presenting for one of the animation awards and he went on a riff about how easy it was to voice an animated film, where you just sound like yourself and they throw millions of dollars at you.

This annoyed many professional voice actors. As Clone Wars's James Arnold Taylor posted on his Facebook:

Okay to sum up my thoughts on the Chris Rock joke at the Oscars. The sad truth is what he said is true... for him that is how VO works. They hire celebrities to sound like themselves and they do pay them about 99.9% more than us. It's my hope that through things like my stage show I can show people what real VO work looks like for the many amazing folks that do it daily. It is an art and it should be recognized as that... not as a punch line for the super rich "artist elite" at their awards show that still required talents like Tom Kane and Melissa Disney to announce all of them.

It's true. Known stars are hired for the big feature animated films and they are hired to sound just like themselves so that you know you're hearing Chris Rock or whomever. They're not hired as much for their vocal skills as they are for pure marquee value. Hollywood thinks you're more likely to see "The Lorax" if it starred Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, and Zac Efron than if it starred voice talents you wouldn't know by name unless you read the credits at the end of a Cartoon Network show.

Now there are exceptions. For example, Johnny Depp actually played a character in "Rango" instead of just sounding like himself or worse yet, riffing off a character we're already familiar with. But for the most part the personality hired is the personality as an animated turtle, giant robot, or Ninja warrior. So while that person must have some acting ability to be able to read the lines right, it's not the same thing that people like Taylor or Kane have to do just to do an episode of Clone Wars. The latter are hired to sound like anyone BUT themselves. To be able to create a unique voice (or to sound like an established character) and act takes a lot of skill. The best in the field make it seem effortless but that's not without years of professional experience.

Because most top-tier celebrities have little to no contact with professional voice actors, it's a part of the business that's easy for them to overlook. After all, voice actors don't get acknowledged outside of the Annies. Even the animated Emmy awards go to guest stars who of course sound just like themselves. And for the celebrities who have done voice over work, it might seem like Casual Friday since it's not 15-hour days of hair, makeup, shooting, and re-shooting for five weeks.

It's pretty typical for people who live in their Hollyweird bubble. Not only are they unable to relate to anyone outside of their world, they can't even relate to other professionals toiling away in the same industry.

December 2012

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