Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sotto Voce: Why the Whispering?

I have to ask: When did whispering become synonymous with "intense acting?" Sure, Clint did it as Dirty Harry, Linda Evans' Krystal Carrington could barely get that growly baritone above a mezzo piano in Dynasty, but today nearly EVERY drama I see has actors whispering when it simply doesn't make sense. Two FBI agents out in the desert - no one around, and their conversation is at such a diminutive acoustic I must crank up the volume just in order to help me read their lips. Of course, at that same level, ten seconds later the sound of a T Mobil commercial blasts the glass out every window for a mile around and car alarms begin going off in the neighborhood.

Close to 30 years ago I remember Bette Davis on Letterman complaining about the same thing. Between puffs of her cigarette (in a holder!) she asked something like, "When did everyone stop acting and start whispering?"

This whispering has become out of control, almost epidemically infecting every television drama and far too many motion pictures. We've got to stop it. Won't you help stomp out sotto voce? Maybe, just maybe together we can make a difference and for once and for all, put an end to wondering what the hell people are saying on our television screens.


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