I LOVE it when that happens!
If you recall, it was a blog about ethics in our business. Apparently, it’s a hot potato in our community. Click here to read the full story called “You are an enabler.”
The gist of the story was this:
Before you accept a job because it pays well, think about the bigger picture. Who or what are you enabling by doing this voice over? Are you selling your soul to the devil for a few bucks? Just because you can do this job, doesn’t mean you should.
Some thought my article was too political because it mentioned colleagues who had been doing VO’s for right-wing media. Others questioned why I was pointing fingers. Who was I to call people out? Why don’t I mind my own business?
Many responses were supportive of my position, but there’s always this one guy who says:
“Screw morals. I have to put food on the table. I’m a hired gun.”
So, in his model of the world it’s either Money or Morals.
Beware of people who give you false choices. The moment you respond, you have to buy into the limited choices they present to you.
“Do you want A or B?”
What if you prefer C, D, E or F?
Why would you have to choose between money or morals? Can’t you run a for-profit business in an ethical manner? I’ve been doing it for years, and I’m not the only one. You can put food on the table AND be ethical. If you’re one of those rare people with a conscience, you’ll sleep much better at night.
IT’S ALL PRETEND
Then there are those who claim that doing voice overs is JUST ACTING. In other words, we can’t be held accountable for lines other people feed us.
It may be acting, but it’s still enabling!
As I am writing these words, we are observing International Holocaust Remembrance day. During the Second World War, thousands of professional musicians played in orchestras that were used to glorify the Third Reich.
Tell me, were they “JUST PLAYING,” or did they enable a well-oiled Nazi propaganda machine that lead to the killing of millions of people?
WINE AND TOAST
Another person thought he had a GOTCHA-moment by pointing out that I had voiced a national IHOP commercial, singing the praises of Hawaiian French Toast. On top of that, I had had the audacity to record a promo for wine!
Think of the poor souls dying from obesity and alcoholism! I had been encouraging them to eat junk food, and drink alcohol while accusing others of being immoral.
Stop the presses: Mr. Nethervoice is an enabler too!
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!
I have several things to say about that. First, I never claimed that I am holier than Pope Francis. Secondly, our moral compass is always evolving.
Things we did years ago without reservations, we probably wouldn’t do again, knowing what we know now. I, for instance, used to eat meat. Then I learned about the agricultural-industrial complex, and how animals are mistreated. Now I am a staunch vegetarian. So, depending on where we are in life, our ethics may change.
THE WHEAT AND THE CHAFF
But there is a more important point I’d like to make. It has to do with the way I make ethical decisions in my business. Here’s my thinking:
If a voice over script deals with (purported) FACTS, especially if it’s news and current affairs related, I will think twice about what information I will or will not be spreading.
For instance, if some television news network would ask me to promote the lie that Donald J. Trump won the election and should be president, I would absolutely refuse, no matter how much they’d pay me.
What people see and hear in the context of a newscast, they will take much more seriously (as we have seen on January 6th).
If a voice over script is FICTION, however, it’s much easier for me to say YES to a job. To me, commercials fall under fiction, because anyone with half a brain knows most ads aren’t truthful. Be honest: do you take them seriously?
So, for me, promoting Hawaiian French Toast and Spanish wine falls in the category fiction. Promoting a big fat political lie on cable news as if it were fact, is not okay.
Let me quickly add that those are my personal choices. Different people do different things for different reasons.
WHO AM I?
On to the last point: Who the hell do I think I am to lecture people about what VO jobs they should or should not take?
The answer is simple:
I’m just a guy with an opinion and a blog, who can’t keep his big mouth shut. That’s probably why I am a voice over. But seriously, that’s it.
You don’t have to agree with me. I don’t want to convince you of anything. All I want is for you to look at certain aspects of our business through my colored lens, and then make up your own mind.
If you don’t like what I have to say, move on!
If my writing inspires or amuses you, GREAT!
But please, even if I annoy you and push a few buttons, stay civil. This isn’t FOX News. Don’t make assumptions about me, or utter rude remarks. Those reactions say more about you, than about me.
In the end, the Facebook moderator had to disable the comments because things got a bit out of hand.
Heaven forbid we ever talk about ethics again.
Let’s talk about microphones and Pay-to-Plays instead. Those are not controversial topics, are they?
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
About the author
is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."