“The Simpsons,” America’s longest-running animated television show, will stop allowing white actors to voice non-white characters in future episodes, the show’s producers revealed in a brief statement late Friday evening.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have White actors voice non-White characters,” the show said in the statement, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Hank Azaria, a voice actor who has played multiple roles on “The Simpsons,” including bartender Moe Szyslack and Hispanic TV actor Bumblebee Man, announced earlier this year that he would no longer serve as the voice actor for Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the show’s convenience store clerk.
Apu’s role in “The Simpsons” was subject to growing criticism back in 2017 after the documentary “The Problem with Apu” was released. Hari Kondabolu, who starred in the documentary, told Vanity Fair back in 2017 that the show’s depiction of Apu was “based on a white person’s perception of an Indian immigrant,” and suffers from a “fundamental flaw, a stereotype.”
“It’s the same jokes: India has over a billion people, something about curry, gods with many arms and elephants’ heads, arranged marriage,” he said.
According to Buzzfeed News, the show’s new casting decision was announced shortly after two other prominent actors on other shows revealed they would no longer play non-white roles. One such actor, Mike Henry, tweeted earlier in the day that he would no longer play the character of Cleveland Brown, who is African American, in the show “Family Guy.”
“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years,” Henry tweeted on Friday afternoon. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role. pic.twitter.com/FmKasWITKT
— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020
As The Daily Wire previously reported, actress Jenny Slate announced Wednesday that she would no longer play the role of “Missy” on the Netflix animated series “Big Mouth,” on account that the character is biracial and Slate does not share the same racial background as the character.
“At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I,” Slate said. “But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
Slate also claimed that her original justification for playing the character — reasoning which she now says is flawed — served as an “example of my white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy.”
The co-creators of the show have also apologized for casting a white actor in the role.
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