Vic Mignog-UGH!

A while back, I wrote an article about Vic Mignogna and the dub of The Vision of Escaflowne. Despite not defending his awful behaviour, I made the decision to support his casting as Folken Fanel. I also defended his acting, calling him decent despite his limited range. In hindsight, the article hasn’t aged well, especially given the recent sexual predator allegations in pretty much every industry. It’s equally aged poorly in-light of the following comment:
“I’m sorry I just found this article and I had to comment. One of my friends was 16 when he was her worship leader. He invited her to his house to ‘look at a video of a new worship song he is working on’. He forced his hands all over her and his tongue on her. She got away without being raped but she was screwed up for a long time.”
I’d like to formally apologize for defending Vic Mignogna. I stand by my claims that he’s an adequate actor, but this crosses the line into insta-creepy. The question now remains as to what to do with Mignogna as a VA. I’d say that he should be blacklisted, but that only covers his future work. His past work…is a bit stickier, as some of his material is no longer owned by FUNimation or Sentai.

If you’ll recall, I wrote three rants about Aniplex of America within a year. One of these dealt with the Aniplex gaining control of shows they had a hand in. This included anything Fullmetal Alchemist-related, which I mention because Vic Mignogna had a role in the series as Edward Elric. He’s so ingrained in the mind of anime dub fans that it’d be hard to ignore that, even if he were retroactively dubbed over with a fresh voice.

It’s a dilemma for two reasons: one, the Fullmetal Alchemist IP is old by now. An entire generation of anime fans have already grown up with two adaptations starring him as the lead. Many have even purchased these shows on DVD or Blu-Ray, meaning that they own them with his voice. Even if FUNimation were to re-dub them, it’d mean repurchasing them to erase Mignogna’s presence. And since anime boxsets aren’t cheap, I doubt I can afford to do that.

But this is even assuming it’s possible to re-dub the material. Which leads to my second point: licensing. As you’re no doubt aware by now, FUNimation doesn’t have distribution rights in North America to the Fullmetal Alchemist IP anymore: Aniplex of America does. And given how its current head, Henry Goto, views anime, it’s safe to say that there’s no chance of loaning the license for re-dubbing. Goto, honestly, has no intentions of loaning the license at all, but I’ve already covered that.

In other words, we’re stuck with creepy old Vic, which, honestly, really sucks. And it’s not only Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood that he’s graced his presence with, either. Vic has had major roles in Ouran High School Host Club and RahXephon, as well as minor ones in Darker Than Black and Baccano!, to name a few. Some of these titles are also owned by Aniplex, making it nigh-impossible to re-dub them.

Even outside of that, Vic’s so heavily-attached to the Texas voice acting scene that that it wouldn’t be cost-efficient to re-dub all of his roles since the 90’s. Remember, anime isn’t a multi-billion-dollar industry in the West. It’s popular, and the cauldron’s starting to spill over into the mainstream, but it’s not an instant money-maker like film. (At least, not yet.) Even if anime companies blacklist him, well...that doesn’t mean they can erase his portfolio like magicians.

So we’re stuck. We’re stuck knowing that Vic has made his impact, and we’re stuck knowing that any grace he might’ve had is soured by the allegations thrown at him (which, let’s face it, will boil over soon enough.) But, most-importantly, we’re stuck with a backlog of dubbing work that has his voice. And that sucks, it really does.

But we’re gonna have to manage. After all, this isn’t the first time a VA’s career has gone south. Remember when Scott Freeman came out as pedophile? That was hard to accept too, but anime fans managed. And while it’s not entirely the same, and I still don’t know the full details, Chris Patton’s officially severed his ties with FUNimation. It’s easy to forget that our acting heroes and heroines are people, and they’re flawed.

I get it: it’s awful knowing that a sexual predator’s influence can be felt long after they’ve been exposed. I used to have a lot of respect for Kevin Spacey before he came out as a rapist, and now I can’t think of A Bug’s Life or The Usual Suspects without being reminded of that. I also adored George Takei as an actor and gay/Asian-American activist before he, too, came out as a rapist, and now I can’t look at a picture of him without feeling sick. Those are two of dozens who’ve been outed as predators, and they’ve had a hand in some of my favourite pieces of art. So I sympathize.

I also sympathize with the victims of Vic’s behaviour. As someone who was once forcefully grabbed and kissed by a drunk man while checking theatres, I can assure you that the trauma doesn’t go away. Not all wounds are physical, and sexual assault trauma can scar people for decades. So seeing your attacker’s fingerprints all-over [insert work here]? It’s hard.

But it’s also inevitable, because art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It not only has different impacts on different individuals at different times, but it isn’t the sole vision of one person. It can be hard to separate art from that one bad egg for everyone else’s sake, even though I’d argue that, sometimes, it’s kinda necessary. It’s necessary because you end up punishing innocent people along with the guilty, and that’s arguably worse.

What needs to happen is a reworking of the system from the inside-out. Institutions need to stop giving predators work, instead holding them accountable. In the same breath, victims need to be given the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to being dismissed and shamed. But, most-importantly, art needs to be respected outside of its human failings, hard as that may be. Because it’s never gonna be 100% clean, it’s not possible.

As for Vic Mignogna? It’s tough to say. I can no longer respect or defend him, but I can respect and defend the shows and films he’s worked on. Because while he might be an issue, the people he’s worked with might not. And it’s too big of a gamble to ignore that.

I’m still gonna watch Fullmetal Alchemist’s dub, however, as I love it too much.


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