TV

The Creator Of ‘BoJack Horseman’ Has Responded to Whitewashing Allegations

He has "soured" on the idea of colour-blind casting.

BoJack Horseman, everyone’s favourite sad horse cartoon is the latest show to be accused of “whitewashing” its cast, and today the show’s creator has responded to the allegations on Twitter.

The discussion around the show’s cast and its lack of diversity kicked off when creator and show runner Raphael Bob-Waksberg wrote a tweet supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day, saying:

“Be wary of any public figure or brand ‘celebrating’ MLK’s legacy who won’t say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Black lives matter. I’m no expert on What MLK Would Think If He Were Alive Today, but I’m pretty sure he’d agree that black lives matter.”

In a slight segue from the topic, he was then asked about the casting of Alison Brie to play the character Diane Nguyen in the show, who is a half-Asian human woman (this is LITERALLY a show about a horse man, along with plenty of other anthropomorphic animal characters, so human is worth clarifying).

Bob-Waksberg has touched on diversity in his show before such as on his Tumblr where, when asked about the inclusion of a range of animated characters in the show which were women, people of colour, queer, or all of the above, he stated that it was “all intentional”. However, it seems that in retrospect, he wishes he’d applied the same commitment to diversity in the hiring of actors to voice the characters, speaking strongly against the idea of “colour-blind” casting.

Bob-Waksberg went on to say that while Twitter was “a bad place to get into a nuanced conversation about this” he would be “happy to discuss further in an interview if asked”.

There was a short-lived Change.org petition against “white privilege in BoJack Horseman“, which also mentioned the problematic casting of Aaron Paul as Todd Chavez – however the rest of the petition focused on some strange ideas about lighter coloured animated characters being more “sympathetic” than the darker hued ones, which don’t really stand up to scrutiny.

Whitewashing has been a contested issue in Hollywood of late. Recent high profile examples include Tilda Swinton’s casting in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, or Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell. However, the increased scrutiny on casting decisions coming off the back of these conversations has led to positive actions such as Game of Thrones actor Ed Skrein turning down a Japanese-American role in the proposed Hellboy reboot.

It sounds that at least Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s next show will be committed to eliminating whitewashing.