The Simpsons on Fox will no longer allow white actors to voice non-white roles — a decision that is likely to impact a range of beloved supporting characters on the long-running animated series including Dr. Julius Hibbert, Carl Carlson, Judge Roy Snyder, and the Bumblebee Man.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox said in a statement on Friday. The move follows a decision by Fox’s Family Guy to recast the role of Cleveland Brown, a black character who was voiced by actor Mike Henry, who is white.
The Simpsons already went through a racial upheaval earlier this year when actor Hank Azaria bowed to growing pressure and announced that he was no longer going to voice the role of Apu, the Kwik-E Mart convenience store clerk who hails from India.
On the series, Azaria also plays Carl Carlson, one of Homer’s work pals, as well as the Bumblebee Man. Dr. Hibbert is voiced by Harry Shearer, who also voices Judge Snyder.
Hollywood studios have been working overtime in recent weeks to crack down on content that might be deemed offensive or racist in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests that continue to take place in cities across the country.
HBO Max pulled Gone with the Wind from its platform, only recently allowing the classic film to return but with a historical trigger warning about slavery. The police-themed series Cops on the Paramount Network and Live PD on A&E were both cancelled.
Meanwhile episodes of 30Rock, The Office, Scrubs, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have been pulled from streaming platforms or re-edited because they featured blackface.
In the animated world, white actors have frequently voiced non-white roles. But that practice appears to be quickly coming to an end.
Actress Jenny Slate announced this week that she will no longer play the role of bi-racial Missy on the Netflix animated series Big Mouth. Kristen Bell is also stepping aside from playing Molly, a black character on the animated comedy series Central Park on Apple TV+.