Harry Shearer shares concerns over how 'woke' The Simpsons has become since he was ousted as Dr. Hibbert

"The result is a black man imitating a white man imitating the whitest black man on TV.”

In a recent interview, an actor who voiced dozens of characters on The Simpsons acknowledged that the show has “become woke in recent years and one of my characters is affected."

Harry Shearer, who has voiced dozens of characters in the longest-running cartoon in television history, including Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, was replaced in 2020 as the voice of Springfield’s Dr. Hibbert when producers of the show pledged, following the George Floyd riots, to no longer have white actors voice characters of color. 

Shearer told The Times of London, “Folks say the show has become woke in recent years and one of my characters has been affected. I voiced the black physician, Dr. Hibbert, who I based on Bill Cosby. Back then, he was known as the ‘whitest black man on television.’ Then, a couple of years ago, I received an email saying they’d employed a black actor, who then copied my voice. The result is a black man imitating a white man imitating the whitest black man on TV.”

Shearer told the outlet that he previously attempted to make Dr. Hibbert’s “whiteness” as a black man part of the joke of the character. 

Kevin Michael Richardson now voices the part, following show producers announcing in 2020 that characters of color on the show would only be voiced by actors of color going forward. 

In January 2020, before the announcement, Hank Azaria stepped away from playing Springfield’s Indian store owner Apu, claiming that his voice “helped create a dehumanizing stereotype.” Homer’s friend Carl Carlson, another black character on The Simpsons, is now voiced by Alex Désert after being voiced by Azaria.

In 2021, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, told USA Today it “was not my idea” to have white actors stop voicing characters of color, “but I’m fine with it. Who can be against diversity?”

He noted that “…actors were not hired to play specific characters. They were hired to do whatever characters we thought of. To me, the amazing thing is seeing all our brilliant actors who can do multiple voices.”

The Simpsons wraps its 35th season this week.
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Luckily, nobody cares because the show has been unwatchable for decades.

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