While most of the nation was focusing their attention on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Los Angeles-based voice actress Rachel Butera thought another aspect of Ford’s testimony was worthy of attention—her voice.
In a now-deleted Twitter video, Butera mercilessly mocked Ford’s vocal mannerisms, specifically her slight vocal fry and her “baby” voice. Never mind that Ford, an alleged survivor of sexual assault said to have been committed by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, is reliving the most intimate moments of her trauma in front of a largely hostile group, and never mind that her credibility, phobias, and personal life are all under attack; Butera thought it necessary to deride her manner of speaking, too.
Butera, speaking in a grotesquely affected Valley Girl accent that she seems to believe is a passable imitation of Dr. Ford, poked fun at Ford’s voice. “I know it’s a surprise, to even me, that I talk this way, and that I’m a doctor and a grown woman,” Butera whined in the video, ostensibly imitating Dr. Ford.
She added, “I sound like I’m still back at that high school party,” referencing, of course, the suburban party where Ford alleges that Kavanaugh, aided by his pal Mark Judge, lured her into a bedroom and pinned her down on the bed; Kavanaugh, laughing with Judge, allegedly groped her and attempted to remove her clothes. After a panicked Ford tried yelling for help, Kavanaugh is accused of covering her mouth with his hand. Ford said during her testimony this morning that she was terrified Kavanaugh was going to accidentally kill her.
“I can’t help it,” Butera said of her affected voice as she’s imitating Ford. “I just have this voice, like a baby, even though I’m a doctor… You can listen to my testimony and hear that a grown woman sounds this way.”
The backlash against Butera was swift. Users on Twitter decried her cruel, insensitive imitation of Dr. Ford as she endures one of the hardest moments of her life. The imitation is especially tone-deaf considering that Butera voices Princess Leia Organa, the feminist icon and fierce crusader for justice made famous by Carrie Fisher, on the animated Disney series Star Wars: Resistance.
“Both Carrie Fisher & Leia Organa would be so disappointed with Rachel Butera and the video she released today mocking Dr. Ford,” one user tweeted. Another user called on Disney to remove her from the show, tweeting “This is absolutely horrible and @disney @starwars needs to recast her. This is not who should be continuing the legacy of General Leia and Carry [sic] Fisher. A simple apology would never fix this.”
Although Butera quickly deleted the video, it’s now been archived by several savvy Twitter users. Butera eventually issued an apology, tweeting “I was by no means mocking a rape victim I am 100% on Christine Blasey Ford’s side! I am just a vocal impressionist and decided to imitate her voice but it was a mistake. I apologize a and [sic] I believe ALL women.” She continued, “I am seriously so sorry I honestly didn’t think this would offend anyone I just thought I was imitating the voice.” She’s now changed her Twitter page to private.
Butera had previously derided public apologies earlier this year on Twitter, saying, “I have more respect for people who stand by whatever horrible thing they say and don’t apologize for it. Apologies are lies. People only apologize to save their careers. I detest Trump, but that prick doesn’t apologize for his true feelings. It’s the only integrity he has.”
Butera’s crass imitation is just the latest in the vicious ad hominem attacks, led by Republicans and right-wing pundits, that Ford has had to endure as she relives one of the most terrifying times in her life.