The Simpsons has decided to join the rest of the entertainment industry in embracing the move towards our newly installed cultural norms around race. The show’s producers have announced the following: “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”
Previously The Simpsons employed an elite group of voice actors with the ability to bring life to any type of character, regardless of race, creed, or strange affectation. Going forward though they’ll make sure their characters are sorted and segregated by race and that only people of the right race are allowed to voice each character. I don’t know what that means for green aliens like Kang, I imagine the re-casting process for him will be difficult.
Currently talented vocal performer Harry Shearer voices the black character Dr. Hibbert on The Simpsons. Hank Azaria voiced the black character Carl, famed friend of Lenny. Expect Hibbert and Carl to have a different voices going forward. Or it’s possible that like some other characters (more on that below) they simply won’t be on the show at all.
Saying Goodbye To Apu
The Disney Plus archive is the only place you’ll still be able to see Apu on The Simpsons. While new episodes of The Simpsons are still being made, Hank Azaria, who voices the character, had previously made it clear he will no longer be doing Apu’s voice going forward.
Azaria stepped down from the role after loud protests claiming his portrayal was offensive. He says, “All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s someway to transition it or something. What they’re going to do with the character is their call.” This seems to confirm past rumors that Apu is being entirely written out of the show, in response to those complaints over his offensive nature.
Though word came that Azaria was stepping down from the character in January, no official statement has been released by the show commenting on what’s happening with Apu… until now.
The Simpsons showrunners have just released this statement to The New York Times: “We respect Hank’s journey in regard to Apu. We have granted his wish to no longer voice the character.” That statement seems to conflict Azaria’s statements, which seemed to hint that it wasn’t totally his idea to abandon the character.
Now though Azaria is clear that the decision to ditch Apu was totally about him feeling guilty. He tells the Times, “Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore.”
Though initially this seemed like it was all driven by Azaria’s desire to be politically correct and not the show, it now seems clear the show is in sync with Azaria’s views. Given that, odds are we’ll never see Apu again, but the show’s statement to the Times seems to hint at the possibility by saying further, “Apu is beloved worldwide. We love him too. Stay tuned.”