Monday’s announcement that The Simpsons had recast the role of Dr. Hibbert was just the latest step forward for a show that had only recently begun to address criticism toward its use of white actors to voice ethnic minority characters. In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, creator Matt Groening weighed in on the change, admitting he hadn’t seen the need to recast the part. “Times change, but I actually didn’t have a problem with the way we were doing it,” he said. “All of our actors play dozens of characters each, it was never designed to exclude anyone.”
When asked whether he regretted the show’s initial defensiveness toward the criticism leveled at it following the 2018 documentary The Problem With Apu, he responded, “At a certain point it doesn’t matter what you say. You’re going to be attacked by whoever, you know?” But he continued on, adding, “We’re not going out of our way to comfort bigots. On the other hand, if you do any kind of gesture and people perceive a weakness, you’ll be criticized.”
Groening did say he agreed with the need for broader change across the industry, however. “Bigotry and racism are still an incredible problem and it’s good to finally go for more equality and representation,” he said. So there’s that!