Welcome to Ban Week, in which Splinter writers build a case for burning it all down.
Please join me in considering John Krasinski for a moment. Krasinski is best known for his portrayal of an everyman office worker named Jim who yearned, like so many of us, for bigger things and the love of a good woman. In the years since The Office, he has acted in movies in which he performed sometimes big roles and sometimes small roles. He has directed a film that I am sure at least some people watched. He has also married, had children, and sold a house to Kendall Jenner.
These are all incredible achievements, each equal in prestige and emotional significance. In the course of doing these things, Krasinski has amassed a personal fortune of $16 million, according to an unsourced website about the estimated net worths of various celebrities. That same unsourced website suggests that Emily Blunt, who is married to Krasinski, likewise has a net worth of $16 million.
These are sizable combined estates, certainly more than most people could earn over several lifetimes. Even allowing for the extraordinarily slim possibility that Celebritynetworth.com is somehow not a reputable outlet with good data and that the Krasinski-Blunt household is instead worth a combined $8 million, that is still a lot of money just sitting around, earning this couple even more money.
So why then was John Krasinski the voice of Esurance? For the same reason that Jon Hamm was the voice of Mercedes Benz, for the same reason that Aaron Paul was the voice of Weight Watchers, and for the same reason that the guy from Modern Family was the voice for Verizon Fios: grotesque wealth accumulation and profoundly unjust job hoarding.
And so we must ban celebrity voiceovers.
I can already hear your objections. I have made this case before, and people have tried to shout me down. (I will never be shouted down.) Your objections sound like this: These people have to support their families! Do you believe that actors should only get to act in one movie? This is wildly unfair!
Let me address these in order:
1. They already can, many times over.
2. Maybe, but I haven’t decided.
3. No—it is celebrities doing commercial voiceover work that should go to non-celebrity voiceover actors, that is the unfair thing.
You can earn a nice living with a nice voice. My mother’s cousin has earned a nice living doing commercial voiceover work and has what appears to be, when I see him once every year around Christmas, a life of great comfort and leisure. Now imagine John Krasinski, already living a life of great comfort and leisure thanks to his salaries and residuals from television and movie acting, living a life of even greater comfort and leisure because he has stolen a job from an aspiring non-celebrity commercial voiceover actor.
Terrible? Yes, it is indeed very terrible. Aiden from Sex and the City does this all the time, and each time I know it is terrible.
There are of course some nuances to be parsed. Celebrities are free to do voiceover work in animated films, though I am amenable to banning that as well. (My thinking here is that film voiceover work is closer to their acting work, but please weigh in if you can make a good counter argument because I am yours to persuade.) Celebrities may also continue to endorse products and appear as themselves in commercials. (My thinking here is that it is reliably strange and culturally important for us to see Bob Dylan, a dick, debase himself with commerce.)
Anything beyond that is banned.
Now this does brings us to the problem of enforcement, and it’s one I take seriously. The United States is a country sick to its bones with mass incarceration, so I do not believe we should jail or execute celebrities that do commercial voiceover work. Instead, I believe it is incumbent upon society at large and the celebrities themselves to agree that these are fair terms and act accordingly. We need to shift our norms so we all recognize that celebrities doing voiceover work in commercials is poisonous to the public good. This well-argued opinion piece published on a relatively new website will no doubt be enough to accomplish both of these things, which is good news for all of us.
I believe we have the power to stop Aiden from Sex and the City from stealing a living out from under the noses of the honest non-celebrity commercial voice actors across these United States. A better future is possible, if only we have the courage to build it.