Common Sense Doesn’t Matter Either: The “Woke” Acting Profession Is Betraying Audiences And Dooming Itself (Part I: “The Simpsons”)

Item: Fox’s apparently immortal animated series The Simpsons  released a statement last month regarding casting for non-white characters, including  black characters like  Dr. Julius Hibbert: “Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”

This, stupid as it is, follows the non-logic of recent white actresses who dropped their gigs as the voices of grayish-brown inked “mixed-race” cartoon characters. How will that “only people of the same race can play roles of characters of that race” be reconciled with the objective of  non-traditional casting, which was devised in part (many decades ago) to open up more opportunities for black and minority actors, allowing them to take on roles written as white?

It can’t. It’s as simple as that. The two approaches eventually clash, and are mutually exclusive. “The Simpsons” policy is wrong and destructive in every conceivable way, and its ethical values, as in competent, fair or responsible, are non-existent.

  • If white actors can only play white characters, then white characters cannot be played (or voiced) by black performers. Oh, I’m sure that while in the grip of fear during the George Floyd Freakout and overwhelmed with the desire to signal virtue to one’s peers, white performers will tolerate such an obviously unfair and absurd double standard for a while, but show business is a brutal and competitive field, and the vast majority of actors of any color have scant financial resources and no job security. The arrangement being pushed by black performers and activists as they sense a window of opportunity created by the Freak-out and the concomitant intimidation of decision-makers will eventually engender resentment and conflict. If the BLM lackeys in the entertainment field really think that this double-standard “solution” to “systemic racism”—which means installing a new system of systemic anti-white racism—will prevail, they are deluded.
  • Moreover, the idea is anti-art, as is the “non-traditional casting as affirmative action” fallacy. If the performing arts aren’t a meritocracy driven by the market—does the performance entertain, or doesn’t it?—then they are doomed. Even with all the brainwashing and bullying to come, the public will never have enough people who will like a show (or a novel, or a painting, or a song)—or pay money to see it— based on its demographics and diversity rather than the quality of the performances
  • To “The Simpsons” and similar products, if the authentically black voice of Dr. Hibbert isn’t as funny, well-timed and deft as white Harry Shearer’s performance, the character won’t be as effective.

I look at all productions this way: a perfect show has 1000 points. Everything that isn’t perfect loses points for that production—a bad accent here, an ill-fitting costume there, missed lines–they all count.  One flaw that loses a few points won’t kill the show; it might not even be noticed. But all of those lost points add up, and when the points sink below a certain level, the production is no longer viable.

“The Simpsons” is voluntarily giving up points, which is simply bad show business and terrible art. If Harry Shearer is the best voice for the Simpsons’ family doctor, then it can’t matter what color he is. The audience doesn’t care.  Every show loses points no matter how perfect it tries to be; giving them up intentionally is unethical, because the artist’s duty is to present the best, most popular and most profitable  work possible, not to meet EEOC quotas.

A related incident occurred last week, as actress Halle Berry, following the usual Twitter mob abuse, announced that she is no longer considering portraying a transgender man in an upcoming film. Of course she apologized, because she has no guts nor the ability to defend artistic freedom.

She wrote on Twitter:

“As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories. I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and I will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake.”

Translation:

‘She loved Big Brother.’

How nauseating. Unfortunately, and I speak from experience, show business of all kinds and at all levels is not teeming with smart people. This was a replay of the “Rub and Tug” controversy from 2018 (EA post here), when  Scarlett Johansson, buffeted by social media attacks when she announced that she would be playing a trans male in a film called “Rub and Tug,” similarly dropped out. Because she is a big star and there ARE no trans male  stars, the project died, just as Barry’s project will die. Many actors, technicians and other artists won’t have jobs as a result, and the film industry is hurting. Do no films about trans characters help trans individuals more than films about trans characters that make money and that audiences actually see? That’s the kind of incompetent trade-off the “woke” in Hollywood and New York are making, failing their duties to their audiences and their art.

 

16 thoughts on “Common Sense Doesn’t Matter Either: The “Woke” Acting Profession Is Betraying Audiences And Dooming Itself (Part I: “The Simpsons”)

  1. SNL tackled this issue well:

    Can I play that?</b?

    My favorite line from the skit:

    Could anybody get away with playing Caitlyn Jenner in a Caitlyn Jenner biopic? Nope. “It is an impossible movie to make,” Thompson says. “I dare someone to try.”

  2. Jack, Jack, Jack. Come to your senses. ALL black characters will have to be voiced and played by black actors, but white characters will be fair game for black actors. It’s like the NFL, NBA and MLB: only insignificant numbers of white players need to be on rosters. And oh, by the way, the percentage of black coaches and managers and owners needs to match the percentage of black players in the leagues, not the percentage of black people in the population at large.

    Got it? Good. Atta boy.

      • Well, that’s what “most diverse” means. And don’t tell me the “Hispanic” players from the Caribbean are anything other than black guys. Big Papi? Alex Rodriguez? Roberto Clemente. Luis Tiante. All the Cora brothers. Manny Ramirez. So what if they’re from the Dominican Republic or Aruba or Cuba or Puerto Rico or Venezuela, they’re as African as any “African American” ballplayers. Maybe more so. That blindness has always bugged the hell out of me.

  3. I don’t think you’re seeing the whole picture: you won’t need to have a fight for roles between black and white actors, because playwrights will be cancelled as needed and what will be produced is woke scripts that would have no value in the open market. Every theater will have its correctness monitor who green light’s what gets produced. The audiences will consist of students and other captive groups, who will go home and then tell their monitor at school or work why it was essential to learn the moral of the show, and they’ll earn points for that. It’s no offense, really, they just need all the buildings to get the message out.

  4. Are they going to go back through all 30 years of the show and dub over any character of Shearer’s and Azaria’s that aren’t white with voice actors of color then?

  5. I’ll never forget Shredder from the 80s Teenage Mutant Turtles cartoon, and Samurai Jack, both iconic cartoon Japanese characters voiced by black people.

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