"The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening has addressed the controversy over the long-running animated series' white actors voicing characters of other races.
The comments came on the heels of Harry Shearer's announcement that he'd no longer voice Dr. Julius Hibbert, or any other Black characters, as well as Hank Azaria's hanging up playing Indian immigrant Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on the show in 2017.
"Times change, but I actually didn't have a problem with the way we were doing it," Groening told the BBC. "All of our actors play dozens of characters each; it was never designed to exclude anyone."
"At a certain point it doesn't matter what you say. You're going to be attacked by whoever, you know?" Groening continued, seemingly addressing critics on both sides of the issue. "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."
Having actors voice characters of a different race didn't just shake up "The Simpsons." Last year, Kristen Bell pulled out of voicing Molly, a biracial character, in the AppleTV+ animated show "Central Park," and Jenny Slate, who is also white, stopped voicing the biracial character Missy in Netflix's animated series "Big Mouth."
Both roles were subsequently refilled with biracial actresses.
"We're trying to make it better," Groening said of "The Simpsons." "Bigotry and racism are still an incredible problem and it's good to finally go for more equality and representation."