Amid the current Black Lives Matter activism and controversy surrounding the show’s use of white actors for non-white roles, The Simpsons have announced that white actors will no longer be voicing these roles.
This particular announcement comes after controversy surrounding Hank Azaria’s roles, known for his portrayal of multiple characters on the show including Indian shop owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Condemned for being the epitome of Indian stereotypes and racial profiling, the actor recently announced he would no longer be voicing the character due to these concerns. Azaria also voices Lou, a Black police officer, and Bumblebee Man, who is Mexican-American, whom he will also no longer portray.
Azaria has received three Primetime Emmys for his work on the show, receiving recognition for his accent work, which is now a contributing factor to the reasoning for the negative perception.
In an episode in 2018, The Simpsons production team indirectly addressed the controversy in a statement from Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) in a similar context, who said “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
It appears that the issues discussed are a result of continuation over the show’s 30 years of running through drastically shifting circumstances, in which the comedic intention which once was not received negatively is now taken with offence.
It is still unconfirmed as to whether the characters are to remain on the show, despite the voice actors being changed.
Words by Sam Hewitson