Bonnie Henry: If you sound mad, scornful, here's the job for you

2012-06-03T00:00:00Z Bonnie Henry: If you sound mad, scornful, here's the job for youBonnie Henry Special to The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

It is a voice that would never sell diapers. Or cosmetics. Or remedies for erectile dysfunction. Yet we know it instantly, dripping with sarcasm and scorn.

It's the sort of voice that once belonged to mothers of a different generation when striving to make an impression on their young.

My mother occasionally had such a voice, which she used to great effect, eliciting equal parts guilt and shame for my supposed transgressions. Me?

I never had much luck using that voice on my own kids, though I tried. Lordy, I tried.

Yep, it's a voice largely gone from today's child-rearing lexicon. Yet right now we're hearing it over and over and over ad nauseam - this time in the form of negative political ads (as if there were any other).

This is a voice that could make an Eagle Scout sound like a grifter, a virgin sound like a whore.

Example: "Candidate XYZ says he's for motherhood and apple pie. So why was he spotted last month eating blueberry tarts? Is he in the pockets of the blueberry consortium? And where are his children? Why aren't they on the campaign trail with him? Is there something he's hiding? Does he, in fact, have any children? Candidate XYZ. Wrong for Arizona. Wrong for America." (Brought to you by the Amalgamated Apple Growers of America and mothers everywhere.)

So who are these folks so adept at heaping scorn?

After googling a few websites, I learned that there are dozens of voice-over artists who do this kind of work, with more and more women signing up in recent years.

Not surprisingly, many of these men and women only voice ads that reflect their political persuasions. On the website procommvoices.com, voice "talent" Bob Jump explains his niche in national political advertising, revealing that years ago he decided to go Republican.

"You pick your party, not your candidate," he says.

Jump also reportedly keeps his audience in mind. "If it's something airing way down South, I've been asked to dump the "ing" off some words. In Texas, I've been asked to give it a drawl. In North Dakota, they've asked for a rural sound, as in: 'Talk to me like a cattle rancher, Bob.' "

The site producershandydandy.com, which claims to offer "more political voice-over professionals than any other site," offers voice styles ranging from "real" to "folksy" and from "gravelly" to "senior."

Even so, few voice-overs can deliver the much-coveted "voice of God," according to an article at online.performink.com

Instead, political consultants tend to hire voices that can instill the same "trust, confidence and credibility as that associated with institutions such as banks and financial institutions." Hmmm.

Speaking of finances, top talent in this field can earn more than $100,000 during an election cycle, according to hollywoodreporter.com

As might be expected, the explosion of super PACs hasn't hurt the industry either, with longtime talent churning out as many as 100 different spots, sometimes from their own home studios.

But success can bring limitations, adds the Hollywood Reporter. Once a voice-over artist works for one major political party, he or she is unlikely to get a call from the other. Or as veteran voice-over talent Pat Duke is quoted: "They don't want to hear your voice."

As the season staggers on, neither do we.

Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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