People think that I must really be a lot like my character, but I'm not, it's called acting. Hermione's certainly not like meFor a moment, I thought all hope was gone when I read that Dr Karl Kennedy was spruiking TLFKAWC, The Legislation Formerly Known As WorkChoices. No, not My Dr Karl, I wailed. Not My Dr Karl who broke My Susan's heart twice but we still knew they had to end up back together eventually because, well, they're Karl and Susan. Surely My Dr Karl is not a Howard stooge.
(Come to think of it - I know the US has plenty of right/Republican-leaning actors but do we have any in Australia? Hmm.)
And of course, he's not really. Alan Fletcher is in fact Vice President of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, a powerfully anti-Howard union, and according to the Alliance's Victorian branch secretary,
If there was a medal for being an unpaid union official then Alan should get the biggest medal there is possible...But Fletcher is lending his voice to the latest ads promoting the Howard government's workplace infoline. And his justification for voicing ads that would appear to be in contradiction to his own personal politics:
He plays a very positive role in our union and he has for a very long period of time and in particular I really admire the way Alan looks after young performers.
The Workplace Relations ad appeared to me to be a non-political commercial that advertised changes to the law and how to get information about those changes...The ad offered no endorsement of government policy on Workplace Relations and, as such, did not conflict with my personal principles.
I notice that for the current bunch in the ongoing, taxpayer-funded orgy of televisual Howard propaganda, they're using Lisa 'haven't really been in much of note since Brides of Christ and that Channel 9 thing I did about country law courts' Hensley. And I must admit, initally I wondered if that automatically means Hensley is sympathetic to that side of politics, or whether she just really needs the work?
Actors by nature are whores, and in Australia this is especially the case if they expect to get work. It's all very well to laugh at Sigrid Thornton and her Very Shiny Face now, or Kerry Armstrong - formerly Australian acting royalty, reduced to What's Good For You and Dancing With the Stars respectively - but really, what other work is there for them in Australia? 25 years ago when they were young and upcoming, you couldn't move for prime-time, Australian-made serials; now, Big Brother. Neighbours at War. 'Nuff said.
So is an actor a hypocrite if they do voice work for an organisation or company to which they're morally/ethically opposed? Should actors who smoke be prohibited from providing voiceover work for anti-smoking ads? Is Fletcher's defence qualified or is it just - ha - smoke? (After all, he really doesn't have the 'I need the work' plea to fall back on.)
Any actor will tell you that's what acting is all about - convincing people you're one thing as a character when as a person you're something completely different - but I'd still like to think there's a line in the sand, where Bill Hunter and/or Jack Thompson won't suddenly start telling us how wonderful John Howard is. But I'm also sympathetic to the plight of those actors in Australia unfortunate not to have broken into the US/UK markets, still stuck here thinking maybe they're destined for bigger things that Neighbours, H&A, McLeods Daughters or All Saints.
And if Fletcher honestly believes he's acting in the objective public interest and sees no conflict with his personal beliefs and union affiliation then good luck to him. After all, he's My Dr Karl.