- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
- Aaron Hernandez, ex-Patriot, on prison life: ‘I’m way less stressed in jail’
- Man pulled from water believed to be disgraced D.C. cop
- Kabul airport hit by suicide bomber who targeted NATO gate
- Space probe on course to land on mile-wide comet
- New budget accord saves $23 billion — after $65 billion spending spree
- Congress seeks ban on in-flight calls
Double speak: In bustling election season, voice actors put profession before personal politics
Political ads often are remembered for their messages. (Think Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” spot.) Or for attention-grabbing images. (Think the mushroom cloud in LBJ’s “Daisy” commercial.)
Though voice-overs are less celebrated, they are no less important. If an ad is comparable to a restaurant dish — a meaty attack, a side of factoids, a catch-phrase garnish — then voice-overs are like salt.
Too much, and you notice. Too little, and you also notice. Just right? You focus on the food.
At the University of California at Los Angeles, Tim Groeling teaches a political advertising course in which students are required to produce their own spots. “It’s deceptively difficult to get a decent voice-over,” said Mr. Groeling, chairman of UCLA's Department of Communications Studies. “That’s something my students often have trouble with. It’s amazing how bad a commercial can be with the wrong voice. It kills. Takes the audience out of the moment.
“The entire point of a commercial is to establish an emotional tone. You can’t have a really devastating commercial about casualties in Iraq and then have a happy, chipper voice or one that seems unserious.”
While political voice-over work might seem decidedly less nuanced than, say, a performance of “Hamlet,” the truth is that there is an art to proclaiming how Mitt Romney would ship your grandmother’s wheelchair to China for a few extra pennies in outsourcing profits, or how Mr. Obama’s economy is akin to “The Road Warrior,” albeit with fewer dune buggies.
According to Los Angeles-based voice actor D.C. Douglas, political voice-overs typically fall into four “reads,” each with their own verbal nuances:
Compassionate: Softer, heartfelt vibes for a kinder, gentler candidate. Vote for me, and I will build this orphanage, then personally hug every child inside.
Patriotic: Positive and prideful. A vote for me is a vote for the greatest nation on Earth. And bald eagles.
The disenchanted voter: The truck driver or small-business owner who is fed up with Mr. Inside-the-Beltway incumbent. Bitter and angry. But also weary. And maybe even pitying. Poor President Obama. We gave him a chance.
The attack: Go for the jugular. Al Gore invented the Internet. My opponent is history’s greatest monster.
“The attack read can be close-to-the-vest ominous, or outright disdainful,” said Mr. Douglas, who has recorded ads attacking Mr. Romney and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican. “With a bright pop at the end for the candidate paying for the ad.”
Speaking of attack ads, Mr. Groeling has noticed a trend of employing female voice actors for the most aggressive and negative material.
“If they’re trying to do an especially harsh attack, a female voice can make it seem a little less harsh,” he said. “It also helps you maintain a little bit of dignity and distance from it.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $15 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- EDITORIAL: The shake that shook the world
- LAMBRO: The dark lining to the silver cloud of Obamanomics
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow