Kevin Michael Richardson to voice Dr. Hibbert instead of Harry Shearer on The Simpsons

Black actors voicing black characters instead of white actors harkens back to the Simsons’ Apu situation last year (see: Hank Azaria No Longer Voice of Apu on The Simpsons possibly being replaced by Indian Actor = Insanity)

Harry Shearer, who is white, will no longer voice the black character Dr. Hibbert. He’ll be replaced by Kevin Michael Richardson (“Bless the Harts”) in next Sunday’s episode, “Wad Goals.” Shearer has voiced Springfield’s most skilled doctor — in contrast to Hank Azaria’s incompetent Dr. Nick — since 1990. He also voices Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner,

Harry Shearer no longer voicing black ‘Simpsons’ character

Over 30 years Harry Shearer has been voicing Dr. Hibbert. He will continue to voice other characters, he’s not being completely replaced. I guess this creates an opportunity for another actor to get paid, as Shearer doesn’t need the money, but have all kinds of mixed emotions on this. Will Richardson sound like Shearer? That’s the bottom line, regardless of skin color. Dr. Hibbert is a very established character and replacing a seasoned voice actor short of that person’s death in this circumstance sounds risky.

This isn’t an issue of race as far as viewers are concerned, anyway. If Richardson can pull off a great imitation of Dr. Hibbert, then viewers will be none the wiser. Viewers are familiar with what Dr. Hibbert sounds like.

Maybe they will just kill off Dr. Hibbert and make the all thing moot. Or maybe they’ll make fun of the change. Dr. Hibbert has a voice change, why?! Maybe he goes to a doctor to learn why? Fourth wall breakdown, folks.

What do you think? No big deal? Good, bad?