The Simpsons, which has been running since 1989, has faced years of criticism over actor Hank Azaria’s voiceover of Indian-American character Apu. In January, Hank Azaria said he wouldn’t be performing the voice of Indian shop owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a personality he had played since it had been created in 1990. Following that, the show biz has come under the growing pressure to present more opportunities for non-white performers. “The Simpsons won’t have white actors voice non-white characters”, the producers said during a very very short statement.
The show had been accused of using the character in the sole way that reinforced racial stereotypes.
Hank Azaria – who is additionally the voice behind other characters like black policeman Lou and also the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man – said he found it very upsetting for anyone that felt racially abused due to Apu.
Their statement on Friday didn’t say whether Apu or other characters would still feature on the show.
HOW IS THIS AFFECTING HOLLYWOOD?
Another actor to follow the same step is Mike Henry, who voices a black character named Cleveland Brown in the animated series Family Guy for 20 years. The voice actor recently tweeted, ‘It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I like this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I’ll be stepping down from the role’.
The Simpsons are broadcasted in more than 100 countries. Friday’s announcement comes amid a widespread reckoning for US culture about racism following mass protests this month over the killings of Black Americans by police that began following the death of George Floyd.