Heavenly voices and bestial bodies: Issues of performance and representation in celebrity voice-acting | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2042-7875
  • E-ISSN: 2042-7883


This article reflects upon the recent intersection of two prominent figures in contemporary American culture, namely the celebrity and the animated animal. Historically, animated animals have achieved celebrity and stardom (e.g. Mickey Mouse), and, in turn, movie stars have made appearances in animated film (e.g. in Hollywood Steps Out (Tex Avery 1941)). But there is a novel convergence that occurs with the recent popularization of celebrity voice-acting in American feature animation. With celebrity voice-acting, the celebrity voice is disembodied and reassigned to an animated body, often that of an animal, and this concurrent vocal presence and physical absence allows celebrities and their animated animal counterparts to engage in a symbiotic relationship, relieving both the star and the animated animal of some aspect of their bodily confines: the star has the opportunity to dissociate his or her performance from the constant scrutiny of extratextual media representations of his or her body along with the personal fallibility implicit in those images; reciprocally, the animal character, often viewed in western traditions as a commodity or resource for consumption and ridicule, can transcend its bodily containment and linguistic impotence and participate in a social, cultural and political discourse by means of its borrowed celebrity voice.


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