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28 Jun, 2020 07:41

Woke white actors are rushing to quit voicing black characters on animated TV series. This is just virtue-signaling nonsense

Woke white actors are rushing to quit voicing black characters on animated TV series. This is just virtue-signaling nonsense

Actors Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell say they’ve resigned because they now realize that they shouldn’t be playing mixed-race characters and must acknowledge their “acts of complicity.” This really serves no purpose.

The comedian and actress Jenny Slate, 38, recently announced that she will no longer be voicing the biracial character of Missy on the animated series Big Mouth, saying that “black characters should only be played by black people” and her playing it was “an act of erasure of black people.” 

Not to be out-woked, another white voice actress, Kristen Bell (she of Princess Anna fame from Frozen), quit her part as Molly in Central Park, saying that she was “happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal.” The 39-year-old added: “This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity.”

How these two came to this conclusion is beyond me, given that voice acting isn’t exactly something that requires anything physical. Voice actors playing different roles isn’t exactly anything new, and there have been several actors and actresses who have portrayed characters that aren’t the same race, gender or sexuality as themselves, or even of the same species. So why the special treatment?

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Let’s have a look through history. Renowned white voice actress Laura Bailey voiced a black woman in the game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and a Latino character in Kait Diaz in the Gears of War series. Another white voice actor, Patrick Seitz, is known for portraying the character of Scorpion in the Mortal Kombat series, whose true identity is a Japanese man named Hanzo Hazashi. And it’s not as if there aren’t black actors and actresses who have played roles of other races as well.

Take Phil LaMarr. Though he first came to fame as part of Mad TV, he’s had an exceptional career as a voice actor. One of his most famous roles was the Japanese character of Samurai Jack, from the series of the same name. In video games, he played the Romanian character Vamp from the Metal Gear Solid series, and is the voice of Aquaman in the Injustice games.

Then there’s Uncle Phil himself, the late James Avery. Avery’s second most famous role was that of The Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shredder is also a Japanese man. He also played the character of Fang in Fist of the North Star, another non-black character. 

Then, of course, we have the most popular example. Darth Vader, one of the most iconic film characters of all time is voiced by the exemplary black actor James Earl Jones. If you’ve ever watched the Star Wars prequel trilogy, you’ll see that Anakin Skywalker is of the pasty variety, so we have another race flip. 

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with these changes whatsoever. Not in any way, shape, or form. Each of these actors that I’ve mentioned are damn good at what they do, and it does each of the actors and actresses a complete disservice to boil everything down to their skin color.

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They made these roles come to life because of their talent and hard work. Nothing less, nothing more.

There’s also another thing to consider here. So how does one “sound black” exactly? Is this what we’re going to boil these characters down to in the future? At this point if we’re going to make everything a stereotype, you may as well take any nuanced black character and have them eat fried chicken and waffles and wear a watermelon backpack. For all of this talk of “systemic racism” being involved in these casting decisions, there’s only one side in this argument that’s boiling everything down to skin color. 

At the end of the day, Jenny Slate’s and Kristen Bell’s decisions are mired in virtue signaling. It’s absolutely pointless and they’ve just screwed themselves out of a job just to make themselves look like good people. Funny how it took Jenny two years in the job to realize it was all just so, oh, dreadfully wrong racial miscasting.

Maybe it’s a better idea to just do a great job of portraying the character to the best of your ability instead of trying to look good for social clout. Maybe on the bright side, the next Cars movie will be played by car engines. Maybe those films will be less annoying that way.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.