Simpsons Creator Matt Groening “Didn’t Have A Problem” With White Actors Playing Black Roles

After The Simpsons recently recast Dr. Hibbert with a Black voice actor, Kevin Michael Richardson, show creator Matt Groening has finally spoken out on the bigger shift the show initially had been slow to provide a definitive stance on: A move to longer use white actors to voice non-white characters. Speaking with the BBC (via Deadline), the prolific cartoonist said: “Times change but I actually didn’t have a problem with the way we were doing it. All of our actors play dozens of characters each, it was never designed to exclude anyone.”

When asked whether he regretted the show’s previous silence and slow public deliberation, Groening remarked, “At a certain point it doesn’t matter what you say. You’re going to be attacked by whoever, you know? We’re not going out of our way to comfort bigots. On the other hand, if you do any kind of gesture and people perceive a weakness, you’ll be criticised.” This comment isn’t all that different from past reactions from Groening, which were initially dismissive of the criticism.

Earlier in the show’s current, 32nd season, The Simpsons recast Carl Carlson with Alex Désert (Better Things, Better Call Saul) in for Hank Azaria. The move was met with a wide spectrum of reactions from fans, from wholehearted enthusiasm to shrugging indifference. Following a much-publicized, lengthy controversy over representation, whitewashing, and stereotyping sparked by comedian Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu, The Simpsons has opted to either re-cast or, in the case of Apu, seemingly completely phase out the objectionable roles.

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Author: David Wolinsky