Monday, November 11, 2013

My audiobook version of Poe's THE TELL-TALE HEART -- controversial??

In preparation for producing my audio book reading of THE TELL-TALE HEART, I simply sat down on my living room couch and started reading through it aloud. I was of course already familiar with the text and knew that the narrator is completely insane. But there is something particularly striking in the opening lines, in which the narrator takes an argumentative and angry stance toward the reader, like, "How DARE you presume that I am insane?"

I didn't honestly think through it too much; I simply let the words explain to me how they should be read. And almost immediately the voice that came out reminded me of Norman Bates in his "mother" mode, with a touch of Dana Carvey's church lady thrown in.

Then, when I recorded it, I found myself taking a quite different approach from that which I normally do. Rather than using my standard routine of recording approximately one paragraph at a time, I instead recorded the entire short story in two or three very long takes. And in the subsequent editing process I was much more hands-off than usual, leaving in some of the nastier, guttural sound effects that emanated from my throat as I passionately frothed my way through the story, in character. I generally consider myself much more of a storyteller than a voice actor, but in the case of this story -- it is as close to "acting" as I've ever gotten in my audiobook career.

Later on I added some visuals to create a video that I posted on YouTube and on Facebook. It was then that I got a nasty surprise in the form of a couple of curious gay-bashing comments from strangers (apparently kids with Facebook accounts). I of course immediately deleted the offensive comments, but it left me with a question: Had I created a work of art that might prove offensive to some people? When I first started recording the story I wasn't honestly sure of the narrator's gender, much less the narrator's sexuality. But here it was being interpreted by some listeners -- negatively interpreted -- as the voice of a gay male. The specific questions that came to mind were -- Could this be interpreted as a kind of gay-bashing artwork in itself? Or, might it be a work that would encourage gay-bashing?

I tend to think and fervently hope that the answer to all of these questions is NO, but I'm curious: What do you think?

Have a listen to the story here and let me know.

The complete audiobook, CLASSIC TALES OF HORROR FOR HALLOWEEN, is available here:

No comments:

Post a Comment