BoJack Horseman Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg Had A Thoughtful Response To Accusations Of Whitewashing

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Though BoJack Horseman has built up a loyal fanbase since it debuted on Netflix four years ago, there’s been a contingent who have criticised the series over the voice casting of one of its main characters. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg was recently asked about the issue, and his response was pretty much the best answer that can be given in such a scenario.

Image: Netflix

Diane Nguyen is the human woman initially assigned to ghostwrite BoJack’s forthcoming memoirs. Over the course of the show, the pair have gone from being ambivalent colleagues to something more like proper (if a bit dysfunctional) friends. Allison Brie, the actress who voices Diane, is white and while Diane’s ethnicity (she’s written as a Vietnamese woman) doesn’t always feature prominently in her BoJack Horseman plot lines, it’s part of her identity all the same, which is what gave many people pause when word first broke of Brie’s casting.

In the four years since BoJack first premiered creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg hadn’t really spoken out all that much about the accusations calling the show out for casting a white actor to portray a character of colour. But when a fan recently asked Bob-Waksberg about the show’s lack of representation, he said that while he supports the cast he works with now, if given the opportunity to develop the show now, he’d make a point of not simply leaning on the idea of colourblind casting.

At the time Bob-Waksberg added that he didn’t think Twitter was the best place to fully express his feelings about the whitewashing issue, but he followed up in an interview with Uproxx yesterday where he spelled out his thoughts more fully.

When asked about whether he knew about the criticisms being levelled against the show, Bob-Waksberg admitted that he did and also said he believed no one had ever asked him about it directly in interviews because most of the people interviewing him were other white men:

For a while I thought, maybe I shouldn’t be the one having this conversation. Maybe it’s better if other people are talking about the show – people of colour, people who have lived experience, people who can actually talk about this more eloquently than I can. Maybe it’s better for me to just make the show and try to listen to what people are saying and adjust [accordingly.]

But more and more I feel like this is my show and these are decisions that I’ve made and it’s my responsibility to talk about them even if it’s going to be awkward and even if it’s going to feel weird for me… I think it’s worth talking about and I feel like my silence can be read as “There’s not a problem here” and I’m not comfortable with that anymore.

Bob-Waksberg’s comments are a refreshing change of pace from the cavalcade of people within the industry who, after being fairly called out for whitewashing and other forms of less-than-ideal on-screen representation, either dismiss the claims entirely or pretend that they aren’t a problem.

This is how you own up to a mistake publicly, keep it moving, and let everybody know you’re going to do your damnedest to do better in the future.

[Uproxx]

Comments

  • I recall (but can’t find) an article from around the time of season 2 or 3 where he said he regretted hiring mostly white voice actors in season 1. He noted that it’s a cartoon with animal characters that can be voiced by anyone and that from season 2 onwards they deliberately sought more non-white actors. Unfortunately the main cast was set so this was mostly for the support cast.

  • Lol and Cleveland Brown from Family Guy is voiced by Mike Henry a white guy, he does Consuela as well, a Hispanic woman.
    Most South Park characters are voiced by people of different races.
    But by this current logic that’s all whitewashing.
    What next Amber Nash can’t voice Pam because of some twisted form of fat shaming.

  • How can they get away with using a human being to voice Bojack! That’s absolutely absurd! How dare they humanwash!

  • I would rather people get roles based on their skill set and experience instead of the colour of their skin. But you know, PC cultures aim to please the minority when in reality a step backwards.

  • People are racist against Vietnamese women in auditions. Characters who are a non-white ethnicity in canon are often played by white actors. People choosing to give roles that are canonically an ethnicity to actors of that ethnicity who may otherwise be overlooked is a thing that people do to combat racism in the casting process and create a more diverse, equal, and representative cast.

    I feel like these are simple steps and somehow every comment on this article is still trash.

  • He didn’t really make a mistake to own up to. He made a decision based on resources and his personal feels on the topic have formed in context to that.
    No apology necessary! He just evolvin’ to the sway of the 2010’s like the rest of us. It’s all good!

    I’m just strapping in for the ride and hoping I’m still gonna be around by the time we’re ready for thoughtful essays disseminating “White Chicks”.

  • I hate people so much….

    I get the concepts of whitewashing and the need for representation.
    But these sorts of people are the same ones who got outraged at the brown Maui skinsuit from Disneys Moana and had it changed to a fucking white skinned one!!
    What was the message there?! That because a white kid could wear it, it was “brown face” and the fix was that all brown kids appear white?
    Why was my culture deemed offensive and why was it taken away to appease a bunch of Americans who cant even pronounce the bloody names properly.

    Proper pissed now, I’m going to tell at my neighbours out the window for a bit.

  • Wow, we’re accusing cartoons of white-washing now? It’s an animated series, and one that features horsemen and catgirls in a more literal sense of the term. The character’s voice actress’ race is completely irrelevant. It’s a generic US accent. There needs to be no justification for the choice other than “the voice sounded good.”

    This little statement comes off as little more than virtue-signalling. I doubt he really cared back when they cast the show, and I doubt he really cares now.

  • Let’s see if we can get
    #Fire Allison Brie #Hire an Asian #Whitewashing #The Struggle Is Real
    Trending

  • How dare a white woman voice a Vietnamese character.

    How dare women voice the majority of boy characters.

    How dare humans voice aliens.

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