Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Of Geico's Voice Over Actors Fired Over Calling Tea Party Members Retarded

First of all, I want to say that not all of us actors are stupid, although admittedly plenty are. And very few are indispensable. Actors are a dime a dozen and when talent rarely factors into the casting process, it's incumbent upon us to mind our Ps & Qs. That's why it's always best to keep your politics to yourself, because you never know which side of the fence those in the position to hire (or fire) you are sitting.

One of the voices of Geico (not the Gecko), Lance Baxter (aka D.C. Douglas) learned the hard way that it's not best to mix politics and work, especially when you are the voice of a well-known, nationwide insurance company. When you represent a product, even if it's just your voice, you're the face (or voice, in this case) of that company, and anything you do reflects on said company. You certainly don't want to make them look bad, and you definitely do not go around acting badly without suffering the consequences. Not necessarily because the company disagrees with your actions, but there are enough people in this country who might and they'll have your ass. Baxter obviously is unaware of that fact or didn't care when he left a nasty message on Freedomworks' voicemail. FreedomWorks, one of the voices of the Tea Party Movement, has had its fair share of hate from bomb threats to racist diatribe including the message from Baxter. In his voicemail, Baxter matter-of-factly tells the FreedomWorks people he's doing a paper and wanted to know "the percentage of people that are mentally retarded who are working for FreedomWorks and who are following it." He then goes on to ask they will "spin it when one of your members does actually kill somebody, wondering if you've got a PR spinning routine planned for that or are you just gonna take it when it happens."

Now this is where Baxter really falls into the 'stupid actor' category: the man actually leaves his name and phone number on the message. If you want to be politically active, or voice your grievances in our business (if you're that pissed) you don't leave a name and number on a voice mail for the whole world to have access to. Anyone could pick up the phone, and leave an equally nasty message for him, though I wouldn't recommend it.

Anyway, as a result of his impetuous actions (or the outrage by Tea Partiers who more than likely flooded the corporate offices with complaints) Geico fired Baxter, and are already re-casting.

At least he admitted what he did was asinine:

"I called as a private citizen to make a complaint," explains Mr. Douglas. "Racism and homophobia are my Achilles heal, but unfortunately my message included inappropriate words and I am sorry for that. However, telling their members to harass my employer to get me fired is an egregiously disproportionate response to my actions."

Mr. Douglas believes his connection to GEICO, a company already on FreedomWorks' boycott list for pulling their ads from Glenn Beck's show, is the main reason he was targeted so forcefully. "Even though I left the message during the week of March 23, the harassing calls didn't hit until April 14, the morning after I posted about my GEICO campaign on my Facebook page."

Interesting comment. Maybe this whole thing was payback for Geico pulling their ads for Glenn Beck, but that's the beauty of this country, it goes both ways. Sad he doesn't see that. And to have lost a job based on some racial and homophobic comments no-one has been able to prove. Very stupid. I think from now on he might just keep his gripes out of a public forum, as all smart actors should


John said...

CR: Interesting post.
Do you understand that this is a form of censorship? Not by the government, by the corporation? The lever is the opportunity to earn a living.

Are you ok with it? Sounds like you are.

I'm the opposite of you, i.e., started out Republican and have grown more "liberal" with age. Also, I support most gun rights.

Good luck with your work and your writing.

Incognito said...

Hi John,

yes, I suppose it is a form of censorship, but the coproration has every right to hire or fire, as they see fit. In this business it's a totally different beast. As I explained, if an actor, sports celebrity etc. is representing a certain product, they want to make sure their pitchmen/women are taint-free.

Should the corporate sponsors of Tiger Woods have dropped him after his torrid love affairs became public? Yes. Even though his personal life had nothing to do with the product he was pitching, they have a certain image to uphold. Both Tiger Woods and the voice over actor became liabilities. So, am I ok with it? yes, in this case. On the other hand, if it was government censorship...different story.

And thanks very much for your good wishes and the visit.

John said...

I hope that one day you will feel comfortable enough to "let it shine" and display your name proudly on your blog.

Incognito said...

perhaps some day, John... but I know this business, for the most part, is unforgivable, particular for those of us who are not names. so I will remain incognito. :-)

Anonymous said...

Um, he didn't mix business with politics -- FreedomWorks did. He called as a private citizen... Do you hear him mentioning GEICO or voice over in the call? And all his responses since then have been far more entertaining and intelligent than your blog. Plus, he had the cojones to tell people about what he thought was inappropriate response to a silly call. We only know about this because he told HuffingtonPost.

You have one life. If your money is more important than your feelings of right and wrong, then you're a hack.