How can this monstrosity of a person come off as so normal and sensitive? This is the type of question that continues to circle in my head as I watch Harvey Weinstein speak at the New York Gala and get interviewed at the Zurich Film Festival. Voice is such an integral part of what makes up a person, so it scares me that this gross human being can use his voice to change their image so drastically.
Weinstein tells the story of how he became fascinated by movies as a kid and the audience is riveted. I would be too if I didn’t know what he did. He speaks with ease and it is clear that speaking and connecting with people comes naturally for him.
He does everything right, from making sure to thank as many people as possible to knowing exactly when to make a joke. He seems well-meaning and genuine.
How can this disgusting predator seem genuine? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I feel like I should be able to tell who a person really is from watching and listening to them speak. But I can’t.
Weinstein changes the tone and timbre of his voice so seamlessly that he must know how to manipulate his voice to make himself out as a caring and well-meaning person. His gestures and facial expressions reinforce his intentions.
The way in which Weinstein’s voice sounds is also heavily impacted by social and cultural context. I can’t be sure, but I imagine that Weinstein draws on this context to further paint himself the way he wants to be seen.
But if I didn’t know what Weinstein has done, I would be just like the people in the audience listening: mesmerized and excited. The way Weinstein speaks is very personable and charismatic. The listeners want to be able to relate to him because he is this larger-than-life figure.
To me, this is beyond scary; it’s terrifying. It means that a person can use their voice to make them seem like a completely different person. It means that a voice can be manipulated to show a personality that doesn’t match the person at all. Our voice is such an important part of who we are, so the deception that Harvey Weinstein’s voice carries with such poise scares the heck out of me.