- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2021

“The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening weighed in Wednesday on the show recasting White actors who voice non-White characters, saying he “didn’t have a problem” with the way it was before.

“Times change,” Mr. Groening told the BBC, “but I actually didn’t have a problem with the way we were doing it.

“All of our actors play dozens of characters each, it was never designed to exclude anyone,” he said.

The comments come after Fox confirmed this week that “Family Guy” actor Kevin Michael Richardson would voice Dr. Julias Hibbert, a Black family doctor in the fictional town of Springfield, replacing actor Harry Shearer after more than 30 seasons in the role. Fox first announced in June during the George Floyd protests that “The Simpsons” would no longer have White actors voice non-White characters, following the news that actor Hank Azaria would no longer voice Indian shop owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon due to concerns about furthering racial stereotypes.

Asked whether he regrets how the re-casting was handled, Mr. Groening told the BBC: “At a certain point it doesn’t matter what you say. You’re going to be attacked by whoever, you know?

“We’re not going out of our way to comfort bigots,” he added. “On the other hand, if you do any kind of gesture and people perceive a weakness, you’ll be criticised.”

Mr. Groening acknowledged, however, that some change was necessary in the entertainment industry.

“I absolutely agree with that. And we’re trying to make it better,” he said. “Bigotry and racism are still an incredible problem and it’s good to finally go for more equality and representation.”

Mr. Shearer, who voices multiple characters on the show like Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, has appeared unenthusiastic about the changes in the past, and that remained unchanged Tuesday. On Twitter, he made it clear he didn’t have a say on the matter.

“The decision was the show’s, not mine,” he wrote. “I am an employee.”

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