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'The Simpsons' ends white actors voicing characters of color

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By Amy Sussman

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So a white person can't be the voice of a black cartoon character, and yet a black actress (Sophie Okonedo) can play the part of the English Queen Margaret of Anjou (a real person, not a fictional cartoon character) on UK TV. Double standards?

27 ( +38 / -11 )

All the Simpson's characters are characters of color. They are mostly all yellow. What race type will be doing the voices of those characters?

27 ( +35 / -8 )

Wonder when or if we'll ever see an end to this PC madness. It's out of control. Pandering at its worst.

23 ( +41 / -18 )

Agree with magnet. This is getting silly.

Are we going to ban Aussie accents? Scots? Newcastle?

17 ( +26 / -9 )

I remember the days of ‘Spitting Image’ in the UK. Margaret Thatcher was voiced by a man. Bart Simpson was voiced by a woman.

Is that still okay?

16 ( +22 / -6 )

In the film Colette, Colette's husband's secretary, Paul Heon (real person who actually lived, not a cartoon character), who has a key role in the film's plot, is played by a black actor, Johnny K. Palmer. Is that okay or not? Or is it only bad when white people play black roles?

15 ( +21 / -6 )

This is beyond ridiculous. We’re in the twilight zone.

15 ( +25 / -10 )

Address ageism by only having Mr. Burns voiced by an actor over 100 years old.

Address homophobia by only having Smithers voiced by a gay actor.

Address Homerphobia by only having Homer voiced by an actor named Homer.

There. That should keep things quiet for the next 5 minutes.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Good God, when will this nonsense ever end?

13 ( +25 / -12 )

collegepark30349,

It's the same for me when Americans try to do "British" accents. Yuck.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Good luck getting an ogre to voice Shrek

9 ( +13 / -4 )

So, I suppose that Family Guy will have to use a real baby to Voice Stewie and a dog to voice Brian.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

and people said not to worry in the beginning, that obviously it would stop at some reasonable point.

It wont.

7 ( +18 / -11 )

As a Southerner, all I ask is that we get real Southerners to play and voice Southern characters. No worse sound in the world than a fake Southern accent. That is reason enough to ban GWTW imho.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

White people should be able to voice black characters and vice versa. It is absurd in many ways and apparently over-sensitive.

However, we probably do see far fewer actors from ethnic backgrounds in the industry and at least ensuring that ethnic characters are voiced by those of the same ethnicity should help address this to done extent.

Sophie Okonedo, self-described “Jewish-Nigerian-Brit” from London,. Her mother is white her father Nigerian.

So she is white and black, which means she should be able to pay both, or perhaps not be allowed to play either. How confusing.

In a recent adaptation of a Christmas Carol, a half black actor played Mrs Cratchett. The howls of anger from the right were something to behold.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

White people should be able to voice black characters and vice versa. It is absurd in many ways and apparently over-sensitive.

However, we probably do see far fewer actors from ethnic backgrounds in the industry and at least ensuring that ethnic characters are voiced by those of the same ethnicity should help address this to done extent.

Ah_so. Finally some sensible comment. The voice actors have made their own decisions. Why do people get so worked up about it?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This is more than silly.

To claim that only a black actor can do a 'black' voice, only an Asian actor can do an 'Asian' voice - isn't that in itself pandering to racial stereotypes and therefore racist?

When Barack Obama is featured in a cartoon, his voice can only be done by a half-white-American, half-Kenyan actor raised in Hawaii?

Ditto Sophie Okonedo can only be voiced by a half-white Brit, half-Nigerian Jew raised in London?

Claiming that a white actor cannot 'do' a black/brown/multicoloured voice is as racist as claiming the opposite. Or that any other combination is baaaad.

Isn't the whole point of being an actor (and in particular a voice actor) that the one person is capable of playing a multitude of roles convincingly?

If casting has to be ethnically PC, say goodbye to any further remakes of Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Shrek, Toy Story, Lady and the Tramp, Frozen.....

Invalid CSRF

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Next only gays can portray gays, females portray females, males portray males, rabbits portray rabbits, grey aliens portray grey aliens..... Mel Blanc would be out of a job. PC run amok...

5 ( +11 / -6 )

BertieWoosterJune 27  01:48 pm JST

Agree with magnet. This is getting silly.

Are we going to ban Aussie accents? Scots? Newcastle?

Voice actors are actors. They imitate other people of various ethnicities, but with dialect coaches. It's not a mockery, it's acting.

The late James Doohan, who I met long ago was such an actor. He played Cmdr. Montgomery Scott on the original STAR TREK and he spoke like a Scotsman. Well guess what, folks - he was from Vancouver, Canada!

And besides, I haven't seen an episode in about 20 years and I'm surprized the show is still around. It ran out of gas a long time ago.

John doeToday  12:11 am JST

And how about Bart and Lisa, both voiced by a grow adult woman. Is that ageist? Should they be voiced by real children being boy and girl respectively? Or how about homer? Should he be voiced by a real over weight retard? Or how about Flanders? Should he be voiced by a real flander? Darth Vader was voiced by a black man, but we all know anakin Skywalker is white!

Yes, what about that? James Earl Jones has an excellent voice for 'commanding' figures like Darth Vader - you use who's best for the job! I remember the sensation about 'Bart Simpson is a woman' too. You use who's the best. And don't forget - who voiced Snoopy on the Peanuts special? Hint - Snoopy was voiced by a MAN.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

yoshisan88Today  05:03 pm JST

White people should be able to voice black characters and vice versa. It is absurd in many ways and apparently over-sensitive.

However, we probably do see far fewer actors from ethnic backgrounds in the industry and at least ensuring that ethnic characters are voiced by those of the same ethnicity should help address this to done extent.

Ah_so. Finally some sensible comment. The voice actors have made their own decisions. Why do people get so worked up about it?

Yeah, but they'd been voicing those characters for years. Why have they or the networks changed all of a sudden? Were these actors wrestling with their consciences for all that time while continuing to draw a paycheque, or had it never even crossed their minds until now? Perhaps they were threatened with the modern equivalent of tarring and feathering by the angry Twitter mob if they didn't stand down?

Especially when it comes to cartoons, who cares what the voice actor's skin colour is? Should a black person be prohibited from voicing an Asian character or vice versa?

Forget about getting a medal for being the most oppressed in the Oppression Olympics - anyone who can even keep up with who's the most oppressed this month deserves the gold.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

"This is ridiculous, only if you're white."

No, it's not. It's ridiculous regardless, even if you are a mix of Caucasian, First Nations(Algonquin), and Creole(me) .

4 ( +10 / -6 )

PC gone to hell. Perhaps the voice actor for Smithers shouldn't voice him because he is not gay? Perhaps thin people should not voice fat people voice? I hope I'm proven wrong.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

So you are a voice actor or actress. And there are these fun characters that you like to play. “sorry sir you are not black so you cannot voice this. “

“If you do you will be a racist”

4 ( +4 / -0 )

cleveland is a white guy voice. He quit already. 20 years of building a character, gone

but Black transgender James Bond or any female taking a male role is still a go,right?

So, I suppose that Family Guy will have to use a real baby to Voice Stewie and a dog to voice Brian.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

If there is an obese character, must the voice actor who plays him or her also be obese? What about a thin character? Let's see now. Which is politically correct? Weightism or anti-weightism.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

jpn_guy - great post - a much better articulation of what I tried to say earlier. However, the nuance you add is lost in posts like "political correctness gone mad" and "butwhatabout if I self-identity as a one legged black lesbian" etc.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

All the Simpson's characters are characters of color. They are mostly all yellow. What race type will be doing the voices of those characters?

We can’t answer that because that would be racist!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Saying "welcome to what minorities have felt for centuries" or "minorites have played white historical characters only a few times, while there are tons of instances the other way" is not an argument. All it does is perpetuate the problem. Racial revenge isn't going to solve anything.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Hold on a minute. Shouldn’t the Simpson family be given voices by ... “yellow people” (whoever they are)?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Sorry to say, Mel Blanc is dead.

If Mel were alive today he’d be limited to one voice. Elmer Fudd?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Voice "actors" are called "actors" for a reason ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

CORRECTION

BertieWoosterJune 27  01:48 pm JST

Agree with magnet. This is getting silly.

Are we going to ban Aussie accents? Scots? Newcastle?

Voice actors are actors. They imitate other people of various ethnicities, but with dialect coaches. It's not a mockery, it's acting.

The late James Doohan, who I met long ago was such an actor. He played Cmdr. Montgomery Scott on the original STAR TREK and he spoke like a Scotsman. Well guess what, folks - he was from Vancouver, Canada!

And besides, I haven't seen an episode of the 'Simpsons' in about 20 years and I'm surprized the show is still around. It ran out of gas a long time ago.

John doeToday  12:11 am JST

And how about Bart and Lisa, both voiced by a grow adult woman. Is that ageist? Should they be voiced by real children being boy and girl respectively? Or how about homer? Should he be voiced by a real over weight retard? Or how about Flanders? Should he be voiced by a real flander? Darth Vader was voiced by a black man, but we all know anakin Skywalker is white!

Yes, what about that? James Earl Jones has an excellent voice for 'commanding' figures like Darth Vader - you use who's best for the job! I remember the sensation about 'Bart Simpson is a woman' too. You use who's the best. And don't forget - who voiced Snoopy on the 'Peanut's specials? Hint - Snoopy was voiced by a MAN.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What is the most important part of the performance for a voice actor. Is it the ethnicity or maybe the sound/expressions of the voice they can make?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Much more insanity to come. This is just the beginning. Welcome to LeftWorld.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Sorry to say, Mel Blanc is dead.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To claim that only a black actor can do a 'black' voice, only an Asian actor can do an 'Asian' voice - isn't that in itself pandering to racial stereotypes and therefore racist?

The issue is complicated. Basically, I agree that saying only Black people can play Black people actually highlights racial differences and goes against what Dr. King said about struggling until the importance of skin color is of no more importance than eye color. So yes, in an ideal world, where no-one cared about race, there are lots of ethical, practical and strategic reasons to say that everyone should be able to play everybody.

The problem, as some posters either don't seem to know, or do know but are willfully ignoring, is that this is not how the history of the arts has played out. In many fields, both artistic and non-artistic, ethnic minorities have been frequently been shut out of work due to discrimination.

(As an aside, this is might be why the Williams sisters, Lewis Hamilton and Tiger Woods dominated their respective sports, despite being among the first minorities (in Hamilton's case the very first individual) to enter the elite level of their respective fields. What are the statistical chances of that happening? It just goes to show that in many fields, to even get a chance, minorities have had to be very, very good. The massive success achieved by these pioneers as soon as they could take part is testament to all the other talent that went by the wayside and never got a chance).

So how does this relate to the entertainment industry? Well, chances and opportunities for minority actors, directors and producers have been few and far between down the years. Of course, this is changing now, certainly. There is much more representation and a more even playing field than in days gone by. But, up until now, minorities have been shut out of many roles.

Here is just one example. Brits and Australians may remember, for example the soap operas Home and Away and Neighbors. Starting in the 80s (I think) and watched by millions, they became staples of the TV schedule, particularly in the UK. Despite the mixed racial makeup of Australia, these shows were almost 100% white. I know white people are the majority in Australia, but not to this extent. If you were an ethnic minority actor in Australia and wanted a part in a popular Australian soap opera, well, it would not have mattered how good your acting skills were because there were no roles for you to begin with.

There are thousands of examples like this. You can probably think of some yourself. Surely this is the context that led to people complaining about white actors taking roles written for ethnic minority characters or voicing ethnic minority cartoon characters.

The complaint was this - 'we are being shut out of the mainstream, it is hard to find roles, or to find funding for our own projects, and now you are not even going to give us the "ethnic" roles either?? Are you kidding me? Do you just want us to disappear altogether?'

The claim

isn't it racist to say that only a black actor can do a 'black' voice?

is rather different since a white actor in a Western country who might what to do a "black voice" is unlikely to be a marginalized figure struggling for mainstream work despite having the talent, and is unlikely to be short of work for reasons related their race.

So in an ideal world, yes, everyone would play everyone, and no-one would care. I agree that, in the long-run, this is not a great road to go down - it highlights racial difference and makes everyone hyper-sensitive. But it is worth considering how and why we got to this point.

One ongoing problem is that many people shouting that this is "PC gone mad" are denying the real histories of discriminatory treatment while simplifying the issue to claim that the whole thing is absurd.

And unfortunately a subset of these people shouting "PC gone mad" would in fact be quite happy to reverse the clock a few years to keep ethnic minority actors permanently on the sidelines.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

And how about Bart and Lisa, both voiced by a grow adult woman. Is that ageist? Should they be voiced by real children being boy and girl respectively? Or how about homer? Should he be voiced by a real over weight retard? Or how about Flanders? Should he be voiced by a real flander? Darth Vader was voiced by a black man, but we all know anakin Skywalker is white!

That's like sooooooo racist dude! Call the cops. Go to prison don't pass go and no television.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@bertieWooster your quite right, just cast your mind back to Dick van dyke abysmal rendition in Mary Poppins, ( to which he will never live down, or be forgiven for) and good old Mell in brave heart. there also has been some unforgettable bad acting/voice overs in TV adds, one that springs to mind was a advert set in a petrol station with the music from the human league don't you want me baby, but they used a non brummy actor trying to undertake a brummy accent, why could they not get a local brummy to do it?

ref Abu during an interview with Matt G the director ( and the actor) they were asked about Abu's voice, they said no one had complained and all of his asian/indian friends and the general public didn't take any offence to it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Asians need to do such cartoon full of western character in English with Asian voices.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A society where anyone can voice anyone regardless of race = racism.

A society where people are forced to only voice characters of their own race, which means race will be a constant factor and on everyone's mind when deciding projects and performing, which means goodbye color-blindness = not racism.

Good God, when will this nonsense ever end?

It never will. Because this not about equality. This is about power and ideology--ideological and power schemes in which white men are eternally evil and social status is based on your intersectionality score.

We are learning the hard way that if you give these people an inch, they'll take to circling the globe an infinite number of times.

Soon, people will be forced to publicly wear arm bands that identify them by race and ethnicity.

Thanks to regressives, racism is alive and well.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

What if a white voice actor identifies as a black person? Or vice versa? That should be alright, no? The people that support identity politics should logically support this as well.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This is all the "logical" conclusion of Enlightenment liberalism: it removes values from the political realm and society eats itself. Enjoy.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

How many years did white people portray any other minority in any performance art? Seems only fair for that same number of years to have minority people portray white characters. Break out the "white face" makeup!

Last time I checked, skin color had nothing to do with being a great actor.

The Apu character was great BECAUSE he was completely stereo typed. I'm not sure an Indian actor would be willing to play the role in that way. As white characters are played in completely stereo typed ways, offending some people, is probably a good thing for their culture, but could be a bad thing for profits.

Majority populations around the world need to be offended, just a little, to understand the point.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Much more insanity to come. This is just the beginning. Welcome to LeftWorld.

I was thinking about The Godfather movies. They used actors not only from Italian heritage, but many of the characters were such as Michael, Connie and Clamenza.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Apu character was great BECAUSE he was completely stereo typed. I'm not sure an Indian actor would be willing to play the role in that way

theFu - if this is really the case, then they shouldn't do it. However, I think that an Indian person would be happy to lampoon themselves.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

To claim that only a black actor can do a 'black' voice, only an Asian actor can do an 'Asian' voice - isn't that in itself pandering to racial stereotypes and therefore racist?

The issue is complicated. Basically, I agree that saying only Black people can play Black people actually highlights racial differences and goes against what Dr. King said about struggling until the importance of skin color is of no more importance than eye color. So yes, in an ideal world, where no-one cared about race, there are lots of ethical, practical and strategic reasons to say that everyone should be able to play everybody.

The problem, as some posters either don't seem to know, or do know but are willfully ignoring, is that this is not how the history of the arts has played out. In many fields, both artistic and non-artistic, ethnic minorities have been frequently been shut out of work due to discrimination.

(As an aside, this is might be why the Williams sisters, Lewis Hamilton and Tiger Woods dominated their respective sports, despite being among the first minorities (in Hamilton's case the very first individual) to enter the elite level of their respective fields. What are the statistical chances of that happening? It just goes to show that in many fields, to even get a chance, minorities have had to be very, very good. The massive success achieved by these pioneers as soon as they could take part is testament to all the other talent that went by the wayside and never got a chance).

So how does this relate to the entertainment industry? Well, chances and opportunities for minority actors, directors and producers have been few and far between down the years. Of course, this is changing now, certainly. There is much more representation and a more even playing field than in days gone by. But, up until now, minorities have been shut out of many roles.

Here is just one example. Brits and Australians may remember, for example the soap operas Home and Away and Neighbors. Starting in the 80s (I think) and watched by millions, they became staples of the TV schedule, particularly in the UK. Despite the mixed racial makeup of Australia, these shows were almost 100% white. I know white people are the majority in Australia, but not to this extent. If you were an ethnic minority actor in Australia and wanted a part in a popular Australian soap opera, well, it would not have mattered how good your acting skills were because there were no roles for you to begin with.

There are thousands of examples like this. You can probably think of some yourself. Surely this is the context that led to people complaining about white actors taking roles written for ethnic minority characters or voicing ethnic minority cartoon characters.

The complaint was this - 'we are being shut out of the mainstream, it is hard to find roles, or to find funding for our own projects, and now you are not even going to give us the "ethnic" roles either?? Are you kidding me? Do you just want us to disappear altogether?'

The claim

isn't it racist to say that only a black actor can do a 'black' voice?

is rather different since a white actor in a Western country who might what to do a "black voice" is unlikely to be a marginalized figure struggling for mainstream work despite having the talent, and is unlikely to be short of work for reasons related their race.

So in an ideal world, yes, everyone would play everyone, and no-one would care. I agree that, in the long-run, this is not a great road to go down - it highlights racial difference and makes everyone hyper-sensitive. But it is worth considering how and why we got to this point.

One ongoing problem is that many people shouting that this is "PC gone mad" are denying the real histories of discriminatory treatment while simplifying the issue to claim that the whole thing is absurd.

And unfortunately a subset of these people shouting "PC gone mad" would in fact be quite happy to reverse the clock a few years to keep ethnic minority actors permanently on the sidelines.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

However, I think that an Indian person would be happy to lampoon themselves.

Well, that's a fairly blanket statement. It's fair to think some would. The real question would be what the breakdown would be. 50:50? 99:1?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

if we allow black people to have same rights and social status as white people, the white people are the ones who stand to lose.

This is based on the mistaken assumption that it's a zero-sum game.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Strangerland, So only Trump supporters are concerned about this insanity? Thats a very bigoted thing to say.

He didn’t say that. If he did, you would call it a generalization. I’d say in general, Trump supporters get triggered more than most at this kind of thing. No bigotry there.

Anyway, what do you think of Coppola casting some Italian Americans as Italian Americans in The Godfather? I liked the Clamenza character. How about you?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Anyway, what do you think of Coppola casting some Italian Americans as Italian Americans in The Godfather? I liked the Clamenza character. How about you?

Clamenza you say...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Clamenza you say...

I just thought Clamenza was a great character in a great film and Coppola decided to cast an Italian American as an Italian American.

I was looking at the authenticity angle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never watched an episode.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fewer jobs available now for minority actors now if they can only play minorities. Will Mickey Mouse have to be played by a mouse, I wonder? Granted the mouse community gets tired of the inaccurate portrayals. Sure, we like cheese, but we aren’t that limited in food preferences.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey! Keep your hands off The Simpsons!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

this is what the far left wants and gets, its just gone too far, how about some common sense

People of color voicing characters of color is common sense.

That being said, they better have a spot on replacment for Cleavland,lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who even watches The Simpsons any more?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

hold on when it comes to english and english that is spoken properly without slang , how can you tell the difference between a black or white person speaking!?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So many people with hurt feelings. Welcome to what minorities have felt forever.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

I think many are missing the point: "color-blind casting" is only a recent development, and has permitted talented actors of colors to perform Shakespeare and other classic plays wehre there are no black characters. In an effort to redress this long-held belief, actors in America and Britain have pushed for allowing the powerful media of film and theater to include as diverse a population as their nations. Yes, race shouldn't matter in voice-acting. However, it seems to many of us that the effort to correct the obstacles to training and hiring for actors of non-white ethnicities is not "P.C. gone to hell" but a empathic response to the real and immediate claims of the long-suppressed minority voices.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Ladies and gentlemen, wokeness at its finest...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Readers, please refrain from using meaningless words like "wokeness."

Brian WhewayJune 28  04:56 pm JST

ref Abu during an interview with Matt G the director ( and the actor) they were asked about Abu's voice, they said no one had complained and all of his asian/indian friends and the general public didn't take any offence to it.

When you have actors there are often dialect coaches. I remember the movie credits for 'Lethal Weapon 2' listing a South African dialect coach for the actors playing Afrikaaners (White South Africans). And even if you get a Black American to voice a Black cartoon character he may need coaching for New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans Black dialects or even Jamaican, Haitian or Ghanian dialects. This is absurd. I never heard any India people complain about Apu. Ever.

>

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Tokyo-mToday  01:38 pm JST

So a white person can't be the voice of a black cartoon character, and yet a black actress (Sophie Okonedo) can play the part of the English Queen Margaret of Anjou (a real person, not a fictional cartoon character) on UK TV. Double standards?

Who said they can't?They have been doing that kind of stuff for centuries. You showed one incidence but I can show you hundreds going the other way.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Well, I will also end me viewing watxhing series. 'All lives matter'

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The world has lost its mind finally. This is beyond stupid.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

The next challenge is to find the next voice for Mickey Mouse...

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Let me get this straight. We can’t let a voice actor portray a character of a different ethnicity, but it’s OK for people to change the ethnicity of characters?

Eg. Kingpin in 'Daredevil'

Heimdall in 'Thor'

(There are many more. )

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I find this ridiculous, too, but this is not about me. I am not the one who was enslaved for hundreds of years. But I find more ridiculous is - why are white people fighting this? Because, if we allow black people to have same rights and social status as white people, the white people are the ones who stand to lose.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

this is what the far left wants and gets, its just gone too far, how about some common sense

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sophie Okonedo, self-described “Jewish-Nigerian-Brit” from London,. Her mother is white her father Nigerian. When she was five years old, her father left the family, and she was brought up in relative poverty by her single mother ("but we always had books", she has said). Okonedo was raised in her mother's Jewish faith.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

HEY1... wait a minute... isn't putting those white guys out of work, black privilege?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Has anyone even watched The Simpsons for the last 10 years or so? You could have a cat meowing the lines of any character on the show and hardly anyone would notice.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Please, please, don't stop.

-14 ( +6 / -20 )

This is ridiculous, only if you're white.

-20 ( +11 / -31 )

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