Homer Simpson announces that he will no longer strangle his son Bart because “times have changed.” Woke activism, some fans suggest.
Homer choking Bart while ‘Why you little…‘ shouts, is one of the long running jokes in The Simpsons. Homer has been doing it since the beginning of the animated series in 1989, to punish his son.
In the third episode of the current 35th season, Homer points out that he no longer strangles Bart, when he again gets the blood from under his nails. And that makes some fans angry.
In the episode in question, his new neighbor Thayer notes that Homer has “a pretty tight grip” when they shake hands. “Look, Marge,” says Homer, “choking our boy pays off. Just kidding. I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.’
Homer’s statement sparked anger among more conservative fans, who called the animated series “woke” on social media. However, Homer has not strangled Bart for four seasons.
The Simpsons, the longest-running American animated series ever, has tried in recent years to respond to criticism that the cast is not diverse enough. In 2020, Hank Azaria retired as the voice actor of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the manager of the local supermarket. The series came under fire due to The problem with Apu. In that documentary, Hari Kondabolu, an American comedian with Indian roots, complains that Apu is portrayed stereotypically and perpetuates racist prejudices. Azaria agreed with the criticism and felt that as a white actor he could no longer portray the character.
In 2020, Fox announced that white actors voicing black characters would be replaced by black voice actors. For example, physician Dr. Hibbert was given the voice of African-American actor Kevin Michael Richardson instead of Harry Shearer.