The animation industry is currently going through a small reckoning as it finally, finally, really, finally seems to realise that its characters of colour could be voiced by actors of colour just as easily as white ones.
According to Entertainment Weekly, The Simpsons is the latest animated show to make the change. Earlier this year, Hank Azaria finally stepped away from his role as the Indian character Apu after much criticism, and now the show will recast the entirety of its Black cast as well, including Carl Carlson, Lou, and Dr. Hibbert.
In a statement, producers of the show didn’t do much to elaborate on anything, just saying, “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.” Fair enough.
Family Guy is also doing some recasting, with actor Mike Henry stepping away from the role of Cleveland Brown. “I love this character, but persons of colour should play characters of colour,” he wrote on Twitter. “Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
White actors voicing animated characters of colour has been an issue for as long as animation has existed. It can lead to racist and stereotypical interpretations and just generally unacceptable appropriation. It’s an overdue realisation that (finally) led The Simpsons to rethink the character of Apu. This week, at least...Read more
Which, again, great. It’s wonderful to see white people learn from mistakes and try to do better in the future, even if it’s just on some cartoons. Though the speed at which all these roles have been recast has the rough vibe of people doing something they knew was questionable until the very moment they realised they could no longer ignore criticisms. After all, it’s not like these issues went unremarked-upon until two weeks ago, y’know?
Now that that’s settled, then, maybe these major media properties can use their clout and money to help us defund the police.
Correction 6/28/2020 6:31 a.m. AEST: Modified the header image and clarified language around the mention of Apu.