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27 Jun, 2020 12:25

‘More corporate virtue signaling’: Twitter left baffled by Simpsons ban on white actors voicing non-white characters

‘More corporate virtue signaling’: Twitter left baffled by Simpsons ban on white actors voicing non-white characters

New ‘woke’ rules on voice casting in ‘The Simpsons’ have triggered a nerve in the online community. People are saying it simply goes against what an actor’s job supposed to be and will also do nothing to combat racism.

“Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” the long-running show’s producers said in a brief statement.

It did not take much time for critics to hit back at the controversial statement. They said it is only natural for actors to be able to portray different people, including ones with a different ethnic and cultural background.

Many brought up instances in which people of color played white characters, even historical figures, like in the popular musical ‘Hamilton,’ set during the US War of Independence.

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“James Earl Jones (a black actor) voiced Darth Vader (excellently). This character was a white man. Is that an issue too?” one person asked, adding that the change is “more corporate virtue signaling that will not do anything to stop actual discrimination and racism.”

A voice actor losing a job because of his or her skin color “sound pretty racist to me,” another wrote.

Some sarcastically asked where the ‘woke’ trend will lead to next, and whether it is now appropriate for English actors to portray characters with an American or Australian accent, or vice versa.

Quite a few Twitter warriors also pointed out that Bart Simpson, the show’s beloved boy character, is voiced by a woman, joking that this may be considered problematic or “offensive” as well.

The renewed calls for racial justice have been sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer. Floyd’s death has prompted mass protests, both in the US and abroad. Many of the rallies have descended into riots, looting, and the toppling of the historic statues of figures associated by some with racism, slavery, and colonialism. 

In the aftermath, corporation CEOs and TV executives alike have been quick to review their brand image and marketing practices, after being accused of promoting racist stereotypes and “offensive” content.

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A number of those in the entertainment industry have followed suit. On Friday, Mike Henry, who is white, said he will stop voicing the black character Cleveland in the popular animated sitcom ‘Family Guy,’ because “persons of color should play characters of color.”

Albeit growing in size, the trend is not new. Earlier this year, another white American actor, Hank Azaria, stepped down from voicing an Indian character in ‘The Simpsons.’ Azaria said he had made this choice after learning his portrayal of Apu was considered “upsetting.”

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