The Simpsons further moves its cast closer to its characters — at least where identity’s concerned.
Last June, I covered the cartoon’s major announcement: It would replace all white actors who’d been playing nonwhite roles.
As I wrote at the time, “If you’re a white actor hoping to play a Brazilian on The Simpsons, I’m sorry, but the outlook is glum.”
The show had made clear it would no longer hire any Caucasians to play characters of a different race, and it would undertake the task of giving certain employees the boot:
The Hollywood Reporter gave an account:
[Hank Azaria]…voices Carl Carlson and Springfield police officer Lou, who are Black, and Hispanic character Bumblebee Man. Harry Shearer, meanwhile, has played Dr. Hibbert, who’s Black, for the show’s entire run. Tress MacNeille has also voiced several non-White characters, including (Indian-American immigrant and Kwik-E-Mart owner) Apu’s wife, Manjula.
Well, now the show’s upped the ante.
Straight Hank Azaria’s gay character — Cuban hairdresser Julio — has been given a new voice.
Gay Cuban Julio will now be inhabited by gay Cuban Tony Rodriguez — two for two.
The Simpsons recasts a second character voiced by cucked actor Hank Azaria: Marge's gay Cuban hairdresser Julio.https://t.co/eJxDoc8RhU
— Nicky Ferrara (@Radical_Lasagna) April 23, 2021
Most will know Julio as Marge’s hair stylist and ex-lover of Waylon Smithers in the long-running comedy show, which has recently faced a reckoning over the diversity of its characters.
The re-casting started with Azaria’s Apu, which the white actor agreed perpetuated harmful stereotypes about Indian Americans.
“I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and apologize.”
Hank had to learn:
“I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it. I was unaware of how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens.”
That mea culpa appeared to prompt a tweet by comedy great John Cleese:
Not wishing to be left behind by Hank Azaria, I would like to apologise on behalf on Monty Python for all the many sketches we did making fun of white English people
We're sorry for any distress we may have caused
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) April 13, 2021
Back to The Simpsons and a gay Cuban character getting the Accuracy treatment, comedian Tony indicated his excitement on social media:
“Tonight I make my debut on The Simpsons as gay, Cuban Julio. This is a dream come true for me and I was already a living cartoon.”
Going forward, it seems, actors in Hollywood may find their identity status playing much more of a role in realizing their dreams. Or not.
For Tony, the stars, in this case, aligned.
“In the past two years, I have seen myself more in the show, and by that, I mean specifically the part of Julio, who is gay like me, he’s Cuban like me.”
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