‘Folk say the show has become woke’: Harry Shearer mocks being replaced by black actor for Dr. Hibbert on ‘The Simpsons’

Iconic actor Harry Shearer poked fun at being replaced by a black actor for one of his voices on “The Simpsons,” stating his replacement is doing an impression of a white guy doing an impression of a black actor.

During a recent interview, Shearer commented on the famous cartoon possibly becoming “woke” after he and other actors who were a different race than the characters they played on the show were replaced.

Producers of the show announced in 2020 that any white actors would no longer voice any nonwhite characters from the show after a documentary was released criticizing the character of Apu. Apu’s voice, Hank Azaria, apologized for his role in contributing to “structural racism” and stepped down from portraying the Indian character.

“Folk 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,” Shearer told the Times.

“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,” he added.

Dr. Hibbert was one of many characters that had the voice actors replaced along racial lines. The changes also included the voice of Judge Snyder, police officer Lou, and one of Homer’s best friends and coworker Carl. Even background characters like Dr. Hibbert’s wife and Julio Franco had their voices changed. The latter was also a character of Azaria’s.

In 2021, creator Matt Groening said he welcomed more “diversity” on the show but said it wasn’t his idea.

“It was not my idea, but I’m fine with it. Who can be against diversity? So it’s great,” he told USA Today. “However, I will just say that the 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, do multiple voices. That’s part of the fun of animation. However, to be more inclusive and hire more people, I’m completely in favor of that.”

In his recent interview, Shearer promoted his new song “Must Crush Barbie,” which was performed as his character from the cult classic movie “Spinal Tap.”

The 1980s mockumentary followed a fake British band that was incomprehensibly dense. Shearer noted that Oasis band member Liam Gallagher thought it was real.

Shearer added that his new single “may offend some people but I don’t care. If I had to choose to be stuck in a lift with Barbie or Donald Trump it would be a tough call. I’m not sure who is the worst.”

The actor also jokingly said that he has two dogs but doesn’t want kids.

“Unlike Elon Musk’s view, I don’t think the world needs more babies.”

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