Do You Want Female Voiceovers for Trailers?
Variety has run an interesting industry piece that has got me thinking - should we have more women do voiceovers for trailers? The story is timely enough, considering that the voice talent in the industry, Don LaFontaine, passed away a few months ago. Before LaFontaine passed, he commented on this exact subject, saying "I think women are vastly underrepresented in this area. You'd think that for films directly aimed at women, chick flicks, the logical choice would be for a woman to narrate the trailer. But studios hold focus groups and the people in them, women included, seem to prefer the male voice." So with "change" being the name of the game this year, is it time women break down the movie trailer patriarchy?
Like it or not, the heavy, gravely male voice imparting us the premise to a movie is a cinematic tradition, not unlike popcorn or velvet seats. Whether it's LaFontaine or another baritone, the experience is one that we as movie fans certainly come to expect and probably actually enjoy (I certainly do). So is there any reason to change this part of the industry? Variety cites one example where most feel a female voiceover worked - in 2000's Gone in 60 Seconds. While I don't think that instance is completely a turn-off, it's definitely one that come across as jarring and ill-fitting. Again, a lot of this has to do with convention and expectation. As Michael Camp of 20th Century Fox says, "audiences, including females, are so used to hearing a male voice that when they hear a female voice they think something is wrong. The public is finicky, and it takes them a while to trust voices they aren't used to hearing."
But tradition aside, are female voices suited for most movies? Reflexively, the answer most might give is "it depends." I have a hard time imagining hearing a female voice on the trailer of, say, The Dark Knight; maybe a Pixar production or an out-and-out comedy, but not a badass action flick or anything in the fanboy category. Romantic comedies could prove viable - though you'd risk alienating male participants even more - and films targeted solely at women (e.g. Sex and the City, The Women). My perspective might be wrong, however. Oddly enough, talent manager Jason Marks told Variety that "the few movies that women have worked on tend to be the high-testosterone movies." I have hard time believing that.
I certainly don't have a problem with women participating in this arena for the sake of their gender. I simply feel it might change the cinematic experience unduly. And let's be honest, male and female voices (like it or not) are each particularly suited for certain situations. I can't remember the last time I heard a male's voice asking me to board the metro or thanking me for staying on hold. And as a huge fan of sci-fi, I can say that women seem to at least have a monopoly over the voices of computers - you know, those times when the ship is going to self-destruct. Joking aside, Variety's piece is thought-provoking, but I don't see any reason why this aspect of the industry should change. You know what they say about things that aren't broke. What do you think?