White people voicing non-white characters

I just saw a statement from Jenny Slate apologizing for voicing a mixed race character in an animated series and it was one of the most over-the-top hyperbolic obsequious things I have ever read. (I’m sure she would have commited seppuku if she didn’t think it was cultural appropriation.) She said that her voicing a half-white, half-black character was flawed, white privilege, white supremacy, unjust, erasure, and racism.

So how about it? Is this the hideous crime she describes it to be?

No, it’s virtue signaling.

You could say the same about “over-southerned” white voices, since very, very few actors are actually from the south. Remember Minnesotan Jessica Lange in "Streetcar? Wail, ah dew declair. Southern whites are an unprotected class, you can subject them to any indignity, but don’t hire them as actors.

As I recall, Foghorn Leghorn wasn’t voiced by an actual rooster.

It seems odd to me. I can understand people complaining that there aren’t enough black animated characters on TV, but if the problem is a lack of black animated characters, then that’s something the animators and writers can fix. And I can understand people complaining that the problem is that there aren’t enough black voice actors getting work, but if that’s the case then just hire more to voice characters of any race. No-one will care if a white character is voiced by a black actor.

Is the fact that existing black characters weren’t voiced by black actors something anyone was actually complaining about?

In fairness, actual roosters were super mad about that.

I’m over it. Everyone tripping all over themselves to apologize for their white guilt.

Can someone report this for a move to the café?

…no it isn’t the “hideous” strawman that you make it out to be. There was nothing wrong with what Jenny Slate said, and she should be applauded for making the decision that will give a job to a Black person who otherwise wouldn’t have had that opportunity. Representation matters.

Complaining about virtue signalling is virtue signalling.

Well I’m over digital blackface, so if it takes people to “apologise for white guilt” to make voice acting a more diverse and inclusive space then I’m going to applaud that, not mock it.

Ah, yes, I made a “straw man” by repeating the words she said.

It would have been fine if she said she was giving up the role to give a black voice actor a chance at a job. But she apologized like she had been using puppies to club preemies while stomping on kittens.

It would be weird if the character had all- or mostly-black heritage. But apparently the character has a black father and a white mother. It would have been a nobly progressive thing for her to just say “hey, let’s get some more black people in here,” but the idea that she was perpetuating some kind of terrible injustice by being all-white while voicing a character that is half-white was, IMHO, kind of over-the-top.

From the article:

“At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I. But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” she wrote.

OK, so Missy has a black father and a white mother, and somehow that means she’s a black character, no two ways about it. ISRT that this in itself is a long-standing racist idea

…the words " hideous crime" were not words that Jenny Slate said.

Your tendency to be ridiculously hyperbolic is noted. And there was nothing wrong with what Jenny Slate said.

I was rewatching “Big Mouth” a few months ago and I thought it was a bit odd to have a white person voice a black character after the whole Apu controversy. So this doesn’t seem particularly surprising to me.

At the same time, has anybody ever complained about Harry Shearer voicing Dr. Hibbert? Genuine question.

Clearly in the future Jenny Slade should only play white Jewish women named Jenny Slade. Otherwise, “acting” like people she is not would be problematic and a form of white supremacy.

My gripe with people voicing someone of a different race isn’t the politics of it but rather than it often doesn’t sound convincing or authentic enough. It’s similar to how Jude Law was strongly criticized for his attempt at an Australian accent in the movie Contagion (although race wasn’t a factor in that.)

Robert Downey Jr did a pretty good Aussie accent in Natural Born Killers.


NSFW language

Sure, but one can always find a genuine Aussie (or black person, Hispanic person, Arab person) to do the accent (for animations and so forth). I am not sure why a movie would deliberately seek someone who isn’t natural to voice it, unless it’s for celebrity name recognition.

How many non American actors have done American roles? Many. How about LA Confidential? Two of the three leads were Aussie: Russel Crowe and Guy Pierce. Imo, it should be up to the filmmakers to cast their projects.

The “digital blackface” piece linked upthread complained about it. Personally, I thought that sort of weakened the argument since they try to frame it as mocking Black people when it’s obviously a parody of a specific character who happens to be Black. But if Cosby had been any other race, they’d be doing the exact same thing – the point isn’t “Haha Black doctor”, it’s “Haha Dr. Huxtable.”

With a character where their race is an actual part of their identity on the show (such as Apu), I can perhaps see issue with them being voiced by a white guy. Dr. Hibbert isn’t about being Black though, he’s just a one-joke character about being like that other TV doctor.

Is it just as bad the other way around? Where’s the outrage for Cree Summer voicing Inspector Gadget’s niece Penny and Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures?