I chose the word enabler deliberately. Why?
It’s simple. As a voice over, you’re a service provider. Your job consists of serving others, helping them to reach a certain goal.
Oftentimes, you are literally the mouthpiece of an author, a scientist, a corporation, or even a political campaign.
They have a message that needs to reach the masses:
“Buy this. Buy that. Our butter is the best. Ask your doctor about this medication. Vote for Donald J. Trump. Elect Joseph R. Biden.”
They provide the platform. You are their bullhorn.
They tell you what to say. You say it.
You bear no responsibility. You didn’t write the words. You just said them, and got paid.
Please don’t shoot the messenger.
You are an enabler. You’re using your voice to entertain, educate, encourage, entice, and even incite.
Ask yourself: To what aim? What could be the consequences?
Don’t tell me you have no impact. Why else would they hire you? The powers that be expect your voice to drive business and move minds.
Every time you record a voice over, you help spread information. You enable the person or platform that paid you to get that information across in the most professional, effective way.
Why YOU, out of all other voices, you may ask?
Because you happen to have a voice people respond to and trust.
YOU HAVE A CHOICE
Now, you could use that trusted voice to spread falsehoods about COVID vaccination or the “stolen election,” or you could use your voice to tell the truth.
You could use your voice to glorify a political candidate who doesn’t believe people are equal, and who thinks this pandemic shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Or you could voice an anti-racism campaign, and a PSA that encourages people to get a COVID shot.
It’s up to you.
Before you randomly accept a voice over job because of all the money you’ll make, ask yourself:
“By recording this script, what or who am I enabling?”
Think about the bigger picture before you think about your bank account.
Our profession isn’t values-free. Just because you can accept any assignment, doesn’t mean you should.
In my opinion, integrity and ethics should play a huge part in our business decisions.
Let me make it personal.
I cannot on one hand be a vegetarian, and with the other, help promote the sale of beef, pork, or chicken.
It would make me a greedy hypocrite.
I can’t be in favor of stricter gun laws, and voice a campaign for the now bankrupt National Rifle Association.
Mind you, it’s not for me to tell you where I think you should stand on the political spectrum. Follow your conscience. Use your moral compass. But I want you to think about this.
On December 24, 1913, in Calumet, Michigan. Seventy-three men, women, and children, were crushed to death in a stampede when someone falsely shouted “fire” at a crowded Christmas party.
Words have meaning. Words have consequences. Words can spark and fan flames, as we have seen on the sixth of January, the day the heart of American democracy was threatened by a misguided mob. The day five people lost their lives.
Why was this angry mob there?
Because they were inspired by words from people they trusted.
Because they had been watching right-wing television networks and had been listening to right-wing radio stations spewing out untruths about the recent election.
Some of our voice over colleagues are contracted by those media to assist them in the spread of misinformation.
These colleagues are enablers that had a choice.
THE BURDEN OF RESPONSIBILITY
The only way a corrupt and immoral administration stays in power, is thanks to the support of the many people that do their bidding (and the many that are too afraid to speak out in the face of injustice).
So, if you are one of those voices that enabled the spread of falsehoods, I am calling you out.
YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!
You helped create and propagate a myth millions of people still believe in, because it was repeated endlessly by trusted voices like you.
Don’t hide behind the argument that you were just reading someone else’s script. Did they force you at gunpoint to do it, or did you have a choice?
Could you have walked away when you saw that things were getting out of hand? Of course you could, but you chose not to.
Don’t hide behind the argument that we have freedom of speech, either. Incitement to hatred, encouraging lawless action, and spreading blatant lies is an abuse of that freedom.
In the beginning of my career, I made a vow to only accept work that would make me proud. This vow has cost me tens of thousands of dollars.
Last year I received a very generous offer from a megachurch to become the voice of their international outreach. My father was a minister, and I used to be a religious affairs correspondent, so this was right up my alley.
Until I did some research, and found some horrible homophobic sermons on the church’s website. Right there and then I knew I could not lend my voice to this faith community, even though it would have paid the mortgage for an entire year.
Anyone can take a symbolic stance, but it really means something when there is a price to pay. I’ll say it again:
My voice is for hire, but my integrity and my soul are not for sale.
THE GIFT YOU WERE GIVEN
You were born with a very special instrument. Some say it’s the most beautiful and most personal instrument on earth. The question I have for you is this:
How are you going to use this instrument?
Will you be an Amanda Gorman, the young poet who spoke so eloquently at Biden’s inauguration, or will you use your voice to help spread falsehoods and hatred on Fox News or Newsmax?
Is your voice a megaphone for good, or a MAGAphone?
What or who are you enabling?