Old Hibbert, Hibbert, new Hibbert.
Photo-Illustration: by Vulutre; Photos by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Shutterstock, FOX, Rob Latour/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
After over 30 years of voicing a Black character on The Simpsons, white voice actor Harry Shearer is stepping away from the function. According to a consultant at Fox, Shearer’s portrayal of the Black character Dr. Hibbert throughout final evening’s season-32 episode “Diary Queen” marked the ultimate time he’ll voice the character. Starting with the February 28 episode “Wad Goals,” Kevin Michael Richardson — who’s had voice roles on The Simpsons since 2009 and likewise has voiced elements on Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and American Dad — will take over the function of Dr. Hibbert completely. Shearer had performed Hibbert for the reason that show’s second season in 1990, up by way of the show’s at present airing season 32; prior to final evening’s episode he voiced the function within the episode “Podcast News,” which aired in November 2020. Shearer declined to remark on the recasting by way of a consultant for the show.
The recasting of white voice actors taking part in characters of shade gained new consideration following the Black Lives Matter protests in summer time 2020, however the dialog about who will get to voice Simpsons characters has been taking place since at the very least 2017, when the talk round Hank Azaria voicing the Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was highlighted in Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu. Despite pushback on Kondabolu’s criticism from Simpsons creator Matt Groening (and a response on the show itself), Azaria determined to step down from the function in February 2020. “Once I noticed that that was the best way this character was considered,” he informed the New York Times, “I simply didn’t need to take part in it anymore. It simply didn’t really feel proper.”
In June 2020, prior to the present season, the Simpsons producers launched an announcement: “Moving ahead, The Simpsons will not have white actors voice non-white characters.” Since then, characters like Azaria’s Carl Carlson (now voiced by Alex Désert) and Tress MacNeille’s Kumiko Albertson (now voiced by Jenny Yokobori) have been recast. Shearer, nevertheless, is beforehand on document as disagreeing with the show’s stance on recasting POC roles voiced by white actors. “I’ve a quite simple perception about appearing,” he mentioned in an August interview on Times Radio. “The job of the actor is to play somebody who they’re not.” Shearer added that he thinks “there’s a conflation between illustration, which is vital,” including, “People from all backgrounds must be represented within the writing and producing ends of the enterprise so they assist resolve what tales to inform and with what data … The job is taking part in somebody I’m not.”
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