Harry Shearer Criticizes The Simpsons' Recasting of Dr. Hibbert

Harry Shearer, voice actor for Dr. Hibbert on The Simpsons, criticizes the show's decision to recast the role with Kevin Michael Richardson in 2021. The recasting was part of the show's effort to have characters of color voiced by actors of the same race.

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Harry Shearer Criticizes The Simpsons' Recasting of Dr. Hibbert

Harry Shearer Criticizes The Simpsons' Recasting of Dr. Hibbert

Harry Shearer, the longtime voice actor behind over 20 characters on the iconic animated series The Simpsons, has expressed his disapproval of the show's decision to recast the role of Dr. Hibbert. Shearer had voiced the character for 30 years before being replaced by Kevin Michael Richardson in 2021 amid calls for the show to have characters of color portrayed by actors of the same race.

In an interview with The Times, Shearer, who also voices characters such as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, and Principal Skinner, stated, "Folk say the show has become woke in recent years and one of my characters has been affected." He revealed that he had based Dr. Hibbert on comedian Bill Cosby, who at the time was known as the "whitest Black man on television."

Why this matters: This controversy highlights the ongoing debate about representation and authenticity in voice acting, with implications for the entertainment industry's approach to diversity and inclusion. As the industry continues to evolve, these decisions will have a lasting impact on the way characters are portrayed and perceived by audiences.

Shearer criticized the recasting, saying, "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." His comments have reignited the debate surrounding representation and authenticity in voice acting.

The Simpsons faced backlash for years over the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian-American convenience store owner voiced by white actor Hank Azaria. In response to the criticism, the show announced in 2020 that white actors would no longer voice non-white characters. This decision led to the recasting of several roles, including Dr. Hibbert and Carl Carlson, now voiced by Alex Désert.

Fans have generally reacted positively to the new voice work, with many claiming they "couldn't tell the difference." Hank Azaria addressed the controversy surrounding his portrayal of Apu, acknowledging that he had "helped create a dehumanising stereotype." The Simpsons creator Matt Groening supported the recasting decision, stating, "It was not my idea, but I'm fine with it. Who can be against diversity? So it's great."

Harry Shearer's criticism of The Simpsons' recasting of Dr. Hibbert has brought renewed attention to the ongoing conversation about representation and diversity in the entertainment industry. As the show continues to evolve and adapt to changing societal norms, it remains to be seen how these decisions will impact its legacy and the effectiveness of its beloved characters.

Key Takeaways

  • Harry Shearer criticizes The Simpsons' decision to recast Dr. Hibbert with a Black actor, Kevin Michael Richardson.
  • Shearer voiced Dr. Hibbert for 30 years, basing the character on Bill Cosby.
  • The recasting is part of the show's effort to have characters of color voiced by actors of the same race.
  • The controversy highlights the ongoing debate about representation and authenticity in voice acting.
  • The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening supports the recasting decision, citing the importance of diversity.