Millions, if not billions, of people tuned into the Oscars on Sunday. Some tuned in to catch age resistant actresses dodge superficial questions from overly friendly taped up E News reporters, others wanted to see if their picks on their own ballot would win. While all who were nominated were extremely qualified and likewise talented, it seems there should be a new category added to award shows for a not a new dimension of acting, but an evolving one: voice acting.
In many cases, voice acting is more difficult than acting on screen. Screen actors can use their whole body and facial movements to portray emotion. Voice actors don’t have that luxury. One recent example of this can be seen in last year’s The Guardians of the Galaxy. Bradley Cooper lent his voice to the psychotic CGI raccoon, Rocket. In his performance was true emotion. Anger while fighting. Sadness while mourning. Not to mention Cooper’s co-star Vin Diesel doing the same thing except with a three-word vocabulary. Other examples come from Disney’s movies like Frozen and Big Hero 6.
However, there seems to be a sort of pool from which voice actors are pulled from. Not everybody can do the famous SpongeBob laugh. Not everyone has the formula for the perfect porky pig. But other voice actors can and do have multiple roles almost simultaneously. While one screen actor can work on a project and take a few months voice actors can finish in days. An example is Tara Strong. Anybody who has watched a cartoon in their life could recognize one of her characters. Her IMDB page can be seen as cultural evidence of the best animation. She voiced characters from Bubbles of Power Puff Girls to Timmy Turner of Fairly Odd Parents. Most voice actors, like Strong are required to be able to sing, do multiple voices, and create odd animal sounds all to stay competitive.
This week NBC’s Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary. In this day and age, it is rare for a show to have such a long successful run, especially for a variety-sketch show. The show celebrated with an incredible star-studded party. It was attended by previous cast members, musical guests, and hosts. Of course, it all occurred around a three and a half hour live show. It is a marvel how it became so successful and recurred.
Probably one of the first successful shows like Saturday Night Live was the Carol Burnett Show, which ran for an impressive 12 seasons from 1967 to 1978. The Carol Burnett Show also featured an ensemble cast. In addition, the show featured a wide variety of guest performers including Lucile Ball, Carol Channing, Betty White and Steve Martin. The latter two also appeared on SNL and celebrated on Sunday. Not only did it create a massive following for Carol Burnett herself, who was awarded the Mark Twain Award in 2013, but also it set a precedent for Variety shows.
One of the most important things that Saturday Night Live uses is the cycles of cast members. The show began with a small cast of Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase. The cast has expanded, and different groups have had different amounts of success in the show. I started watching back in 2005 with performers like Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler headed the show.
The show’s alumni have had continued success, and they usually bring in other cast members to star in their projects. Will Ferrel and Molly Shannon have a famous relationship as contributing to projects together including SuperStar and Talladega Nights. Seth Meyers has his nightly show with fellow cast member Fred Armisen as band leader.
Can it continue?
Short answer is that the outlook is very positive. The anniversary itself was reported by Variety to break 23.1 million viewers and millions of tweets on Twitter. Any criticism they receive they take into account, such as the complaint of lack of minority female presence leading to the casting of the amazing So sheer Zamata. It has been a long time coming, generations can remember their favorite SNL jokes, and it will continue for further generations.
Nothing has taken over our screens as fast and as profitable as the Marvel Studios. It’s on our televisions, it’s on our movie screens, it’s in our video games, and soon it will be in our Netflix accounts. But that’s not the biggest news.
On Monday, a short news announcement on Marvel’s website combined two of the most successful franchises. In short Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios have come to a deal to share parts of the Spider-Man franchise. In this deal, the famous web-slinger will appear in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. The film I see him appearing in is most likely the next Captain America movie, Civil War, as he played a large part in the comic books though this is only rumor at this point. After his appearance, Spider-Man will have a new film in 2017 co-produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Sony’s Amy Pascal. Pascal recently resigned her position as co-chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment after the email hacking scandal. From now on, Marvel will have some say in the creative decisions of the spider-man franchise but Sony maintains financing and distribution. They also have the final say in creative decisions.
Marvel Studios itself can be considered one of the most successful independent film studios. Early releases of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man started the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their success led to Thor and Captain America franchises combining for director Joss Whedon’s incredible successful The Avengers film. The success brought the television show, Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D now in its second season and its winter hiatus being filled with another Marvel miniseries, Agent Carter. Soon the MCU will expand again with the addition of this year’s Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones the first two of Marvel’s Netflix series.
My take on the merger is that it is going to be hugely successful for both parties. Fans have long wanted Spider-Man to team up with Marvel heroes. It isn’t know if Spider-Man will be rebooted with a new actor replacing Garfield, but if Marvel can take the little-known Guardians of the Galaxy and turn it into the second highest grossing movie of 2014, there will be little problem with any decision.
If a classic artist, like Michelangelo, came back from the dead and asked the nearest millennial what kind of art is being created today, he might just go back to the grave.
The art we create and subsequently consume nowadays is usually in the form of reality TV, magazines, listicles, cat videos, tweets: short, sweet and easy to digest. However, there are also other forms of art we enjoy that might be classified as a bit “higher caliber” like Oscar-nominated movies or very poignant dramas.
But let us not forget, our culture consists of everything that we interact with, see and obsess over. Even if we ourselves do not watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it is a part of our culture.
This does not have to be a bad thing
Janet Mock, the host of MSNBC’s So Popular, works with all of the different varieties of art that we have. She tackles issues like race and gender AND pop culture like Dancing with the Stars. She doesn’t put one on a pedestal and look down on the others, because we should not try to stick up our noses and ignore the less sophisticated media if we are to be active participators in the culture we have today.
So instead of bashing the constant flow of blockbusters and reality shows, let’s dissect it and really try to understand what this means for us as a generation and as a population that demands these things. Let’s watch and discuss. Actually learn something. Maybe turn a guilty pleasure into a new way of thinking.
Last night’s Super Bowl game definitely had a lot of gif-worthy moments. However, my favorite part was seeing the trend that kept occurring within the commercials. The media reflects what we believe to be important. Or sometimes, the media decides what’s important and then we happily gobble it all up and talk about it so much that it does become important. This can be good or bad.
I would say last night’s commercials were showing a pattern of good. Although the ads themselves were covering serious and sometimes depressing topics such as childhood death, lost puppies, how phrases similar to “like a girl” can hurt our young women, and caring fathers. But these are topics that are largely invisible in popular media, i.e. real human problems (minus the puppy, unless that puppy has a complex from looking at too many teen magazines) that are not very glamorous and largely pushed onto us by the media itself.
I’ve seen the Always “like a girl” ad online but beyond the more feminist circles, would that ad have made as big an impact as airing during the Super Bowl?
Maybe, but maybe not. Even if these ads go immediately to the back of our minds and are relatively forgotten, if the trend picks up and more companies and more people decide to spotlight these problems that our society has—that’s a good thing overall.
Because even though I’m a big fan of whatever LSD trip Katy Perry went on before dreaming up her big performance, knowing that people were alert and paying attention to these hidden “menaces” in our society is even better.