I’ll probably get so much hell for what I’m about to say, but it needs to be said.
It’s kind of telling about this year’s Oscars that nobody’s really talking about the picture that one Best Picture (The Artist, a rare film shot entirely in Hollywood), but rather one of four things: Billy Crystal’s performance (old, schticky, and … seriously, BLACKFACE?), Meryl Streep’s Best Actress “shocker” (probably one of the most genuine shockers of the night, everything else was in script), Angelina Jolie’s right leg (it’s only her “stage left” leg), and Chris Rock’s performance during the Best Animated Picture category.
By the way, Rango won. Congratulations Paramount and ILM on your well-deserved win.
Half of what Chris said has caused the ire of voice artists, one of which, the talented Tara Strong, has issued a kind of brony-led fatwa towards him. This is HALF of what he said:
Animation is the easiest thing in the world. I go into a booth and I ask the guy ‘what’s my line’ and he says ‘it’s time to go to the store.’ so I say, ‘Its time to go to the store!’ and then I say, ‘Well what’s my next line?’ and he says ‘it’s getting dark outside.’ ‘Its getting dark outside!’ and then they give me a MILLION DOLLARS.
Chris Rock said these words to a packed Kodak Theater and a crowd of millions (at least according to Nielsen, because one Nielsen viewer is 1.1 million people), and it got the audience a little more … well, animated. The show was dead, and he brought the pain as he tends to do. He’s a comedian. His job is to rile people up and entertain them. Time and time again, Rock creates, writes, and performs routines across the country and around the globe. I dare a lot of these voice actors criticizing Chris over his comments do that kind of schedule. He has earned accolades and created a considerable following and a lot of respect, and has used his talents in many venues.
Now I realize that voice acting doesn’t get the respect it deserves nor accolades from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The fact that Mel Blanc has never won an Oscar of his own despite being the lone vocal performer in Oscar-winning productions still astounds me. And no, Chris Rock isn’t a voice actor. He’s a performer. His experience isn’t typical by any means. He sits in a booth, says a line that’s given to him, and leaves.
That’s HIS experience in voice acting, and to call him out for seeing the industry like that is a bit harsh and ill-conceived. He’s not writing his lines. He didn’t write the story. He was basically hired because of who he is as a comedic performer because the producers see a marquee name rather than a veteran voice actor, so yeah, in his eyes, it would be considered easy.
A little out of touch, but it’s Chris’s experiences. But it’s not like he raped three women and got away with it like a quarterback in Pittsburgh did or interrupted a girl’s speech at a music award show. The way the voice acting community and “the Bronies” are acting towards him, it’s like he did that.
But they all seemed to miss the first half of what he said
I love animation because in the world of animation, you can be anything you wanna be. If you’re a fat woman, you can play a skinny princess. If you’re a short, wimpy guy, you can play a tall gladiator. If you’re a white man, you can play an Arabian prince. And if you’re a black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra.
That right there should be enough proof that Chris respects what voice actors are capable of and recognizes that there are talented people out there playing a myriad of roles, many of which are against type.
But roles for minorities are limited, just like in the rest of the entertainment industry. And voice actors seem to be more of a close-knit, inclusive club, almost like a sorority or a frat-house where there are so few roles and so few actors of color working voices.
Cree Summers, Phil LaMarr, Phil Morris, Blu Mankuma, Keith David, Beau Billingslea, Roz Ryan, Kevin Michael Richardson, Khary Payton, and Bumper Robinson are the few REGULAR Black voice actors out there. And yeah, like Chris Rock, some of these voice actors do have one voice, but it’s a distinctive, recognizable voice. Would you say what one-voice actors do is any less than those who can do a myriad of voices?
Of course not. It’s just that in this instance, someone of considerable clout just stated his opinion about his experiences as a voice actor which are different experiences from those that do it as a living and working paycheck to paycheck. Was it an ignorant comment? Sure, but I don’t think he meant any malice towards those that do it for a living. He’s a fan of what voice actors do, even admitting so up front.
There’s also a thing about working the crowd, which is what he did. The crowd were moronic self-congratulatory, out of touch Hollywood types who would stab their own friend to get a juicy role while still continuing to marginalize different races in stereotypical roles. Hell, I’d like to see Chris Rock and so many other minorities actually get into the production side of animation a lot more than they do .
And I wonder how many people criticizing Chris Rock right now wouldn’t hesitate in working on a project he’d make.