Vic Mignogna’s response on the petition to cast a different voice actor for Free! Eternal Summer

Vic Mignogna at MCM Birmingham (Nov 2014 - 3)

Free-Eternal Summer-RinWhen the voice cast for the English dub of Free! Eternal Summer was announced by FUNimation Entertainment, not everyone reacted positively to the news. In particular, some were not keen on the casting decision of Vic Mignogna to voice the character Rin Matsuoka.

Someone even went so far as to start a Change.Org petition to FUNimation requesting that they “cast a different voice actor for Rin Matsuoka” because “Vic Mignogna has a history of being homophobic and rude to fans who ask him to sign homoromantic fanart.”

At November’s MCM Birmingham Comic Con an attendee decided to raise the petition with Vic himself.

“I’m reading this now guys,” said Vic, as he picked up the attendee’s phone and read out the opening line in the petition for those that did not know about it, which said, “Vic Mignogna is openly homophobic.”

“What the hell does that mean?” said Vic to the audience.

What follows is Vic’s response to the petition as spoken during his panel at MCM Birmingham Comic Con.

“Because I refuse to sign yaoi, that means I’m openly homophobic. Did you know that? Is that what that means to you? Because I don’t sign that? No, I’m not at all. I’m not the least bit. Are you looking in my eyes? I’m going to do my best to look in the eyes of everybody here. I am not the least bit homophobic. That is a vicious, mean-spirited lie, okay. You think you can help me maybe dispel that a little bit on the Internet? That is garbage and you know where that comes from? It comes from mean-spirited children who are desperate for some attention and they get on the Internet and they say mean things about people, because they want attention. Because every time that has ever been raised, some more… how shall we say… fair-minded people say, ‘Well where’s the proof? Show me proof.’ (pointing) Look at all the video cameras that are rolling, all over, at hundreds of conventions. I’ve never behaved meanly toward anybody. I’ve never spoken anything meanly. There is no reason to believe that.

I’m going to say exactly what happens. Somebody comes up to me and gives me a naked picture of Roy Mustang and Edward Elric making out, and they want me to sign it. Do you think I throw it in their face and cuss them out? Of course not. You know what I do, I go, ‘Ooh sweetie, I’d really rather not sign that, but I’d be happy to sign something else.’ Ipso facto, I’m homophobic. That’s where it comes from. Isn’t that sad? It’s sad that there are people out there that are so mean-spirited. And you know what’s really sad to me… I’m sorry she got me on this little rant, but I need to share this with you. Do you know how many e-mails I get from kids who are bullied? (to the audience) How many of you have ever been bullied? (everyone in the audience has their hand raised) Look around the room for a minute. I get hundreds of e-mails from fans who talk about being bullied. If there was ever a fanbase… don’t get mad Vic… if there was ever a fanbase where you should be accepted, and the people in the fanbase should understand what it’s like to be bullied and hated on, it should be the anime industry, wouldn’t you think? Wouldn’t you think the people that are bullied, the people that are outcasts, the people that are treated poorly and ostracised at school for being a little weird, don’t you think those are the people they should sympathise? Those are the last people in the world that should be hating. Don’t you think? Those are the last people in the world that should be calling people mean names and bullying somebody else.

The vast majority of the anime world is full of wonderful people like you. Positive, enthusiastic, you share your love and your passion with different people, and then there’s just this very small group of people. But the problem is that small group of people makes a lot of noise. Will you help me with something? You guys, be a voice for good. Isn’t that a great idea? Be a voice for positivity. Be a voice of encouragement. Don’t be one of those people, that [go], ‘I’m gonna post hateful things because it will get me some attention and I’m gonna stir up a lot of trouble for this person.’ There are a lot of voice actors that don’t sign unlicensed things. Did you know that? Clearly, that kind of stuff is not licensed, in other words it’s not canon, it’s not part of the official release of the anime. But it’s so difficult when you interact with thousands of people around the world and you try your best to be nice to them, try your best to be kind, generous, open, enthusiastic. But there are some people that if you don’t do exactly what they want…if you don’t do everything they want, they go back to their house and they get on their computer and they post mean things about you. It’s sad. Because you guys can understand how hurtful that is. It makes me more sad than angry. It really hurts my feelings, because I love you guys. You’ll find a hundred videos, maybe more, of how much I love and appreciate you guys and your kindness and your enthusiasm for the work that I’ve been doing for 17 years. And then you see something like that, and you think ‘Why so hateful?’ It makes me sad.”

You can see the video of Vic’s response during his panel at MCM Birmingham Comic Con below.

Amid this a YouTube user by the name of ‘GregSnazzyGamer’ uploaded a video titled ‘An Open Apology To: Vic Mignogna, FUNimation, Professional Voice Actors, and the Free! Fandom.’ Describing himself as an aspiring voice actor Greg states in the video to have done “one of the most hypocritical things” by signing the petition and starting “very horrible Tumblr posts” about the situation. Greg said his reason behind what he did was because “the voice actor I wanted to be Rin wasn’t Rin.”

In the video Greg apologises, claiming that what he did was a “knee-jerk reaction” and that it was something he should not have done. “I’m sorry for being one of the many negative people,” he says “I’m sorry to anyone who is either personally or professionally affected by this.”

Vic himself viewed and responded to the video, saying, “What you said took a lot of courage and maturity, and I have the greatest respect and appreciation for you…I will give Rin every ounce of love and skill that I possess to do the best job I possibly can for you and the other fans of Free!. Your apology is humbly accepted.”

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