Released on Disney + on December 25, Soul is the last Pixar. While the animated film seems to be very popular with critics, it has been at the heart of an unnecessary controversy for several days. Explanation.
A petition calls for a new dubbing
Since its creation, the Pixar studio has never ceased to be glorified by critics and the public. Symbol of prestige, the studio is behind several of the most popular animated films of the past two decades. At its output, Soul received much praise. In our review, we told you in particular that the film is a real technical tour de force.
US side, the film was also highly regarded, especially for its ability to speak about the African American community with great intelligence, tenderness and poetry. Phylicia Rashad, who doubles as the protagonist’s mother, had confided in this aspect of the film: “This movie is written by Kemp Powers [co-scénariste et co-réalisateur du film, NDLR], who is a black man, and he wrote down what he knew. He wrote down the truth of what he knows.”
If all seemed to be going well in the best of worlds for the new Pixar, a controversy has just broken out about him. Indeed, many voices rise up against the film. The reason ? While in the United States and France, the main character is voiced by actors of color, respectively Jamie Foxx and Omar Sy, he is voiced in certain territories by white actors.
In Portugal, where Joe Gardner was voiced by actor Jorge Mourato, a petition signed by 17,500 people expressly requests a new dubbing of the film, so that the voice casting is representative of the identity of the characters. Ana Sofia Martins, actress and petitioner, told the daily Public :
Calling on actors from minorities cannot be considered a fashion, it must be the rule.
The Portuguese actress justifies her position, and explains that “the voice has a color, a story“, as reported The International Courier. An opinion shared by his compatriot Matamba Joaquim, who sees in this choice to entrust the dubbing of a black character to a white actor further proof that the company “continues to make black bodies and voices invisible“.
If it seems legitimate to us to fight so that actors and voice actors from minorities are better represented in cinema, however, it seems important to us to take a maximum of perspective, concerning this controversy, which seems to us to deeply harm the cause it is supposed to defend.
The danger behind the controversy
On January 19, Maxime Hoareau, co-creator of Re: Take, wrote a Tweet, in which he stated his disagreement with the controversy, as a Métis voice actor:
There are personalities and voices that match the character.
It has nothing to do with his color, but with what he gives off, as a person.
I hope that one day you too will look at people as persons.
Not as people of color. [4/4] pic.twitter.com/lZSmNS8vr7January 19, 2021
We appreciate this salutary position taken by Maxime Hoareau, because it reframes the debate a little. While it is true that, to use the words of Ana Sofia Martins, “voices have a story“, can’t we consider that the person chosen, by the studio or by the dubbing agency, has a voice that gives off exactly what is needed for the role? When a director or an agency is looking for a voice actor for a character, they look far beyond their gender and physical appearance. This is how Brigitte Lecordier was chosen to dub the character of Son Goku, Son Gohan and Trunks in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.
It seems interesting to us to put this controversy in perspective, and to highlight how it relates to a much larger debate. In 2018, actress Scarlett Johansson was forced to quit the film Rub and Tug. The reason ? Because she had to play a transgender character, even though she is not transgender herself. Despite laudable intentions, this controversy had seemed to us, at the time, deeply dangerous and contradictory.
Dangerous, because she was the very negation of what an actor is. The job of an actor consists in interpreting what one is not in real life. When Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter in Thesilenceofthelambs of Jonathan Demme, he didn’t have to be a cannibal himself to play the role. Same thing for Jonathan Groff, American actor who came out in 2009, and who played a heterosexual character in the series. Mindhunter by David Fincher.
Dangerous too, because choosing an actor or a voice actor solely for his ethnicity or gender is to first see his character only through this prism. Which corresponds, ironically, to the very definition of racism and sexism … At Hitek, we prefer to think that Morgan Freeman was chosen by David Fincher to star in Se7en not for his belonging to the African-American community, but for his charisma and the impression of wisdom he exudes.
Finally, contradictory, because choose stars such as Scarlett Johansson or Léa Seydoux (in The Life of Adele) to interpret characters from minorities highlights the legitimate struggles of these minorities. When a studio chooses a heterosexual star over a homosexual star, it is obviously not for her sexuality, but rather for what she can bring both to the film as an actress, and to the marketing as that celebrity.
The opponents answer!
Anyway, this controversy does not leave indifferent. Many Internet users have pointed out that this affair calls into question the legitimacy of particularly talented voice actors solely because of their skin color, such as Richard Darbois, who has doubled on many occasions Donald Glover, or Benoît Allemane, known in particular for to have lent his voice to the characters of Morgan Freeman. The humorist Mathieu Madénian has also reacted on social networks in a very ironic way to the controversy. We let you discover his reaction.
We cannot say enough how important it is for minority actors and voice actors to gain visibility. However, it seems to us that these controversies only deal with the problem on the surface.
Source: Hitek : actualité geek et tests high tech by hitek.fr.
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