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The Simpsons is the subject of a new documentary that aired November 17th called The Problem With Apu, directed by writer/actor/comedian Hari Kondabolu. Specifically the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, is being called into question for the way the Indian character has been portrayed for nearly 30 years.
Kondabolu's film looks at the character of Apu through America's history of mocking minorities with over the top caricatures, stereotypes in the name of comedy.
The makers of the film were unable to get an interview with actor Hank Azaria, but recently a tv crew caught up with him on the way to the airport and asked him about the documentary
Azaria had this to say:
“I think the documentary made some really interesting points, and gave us a lot at The Simpsons to think about, and we really are thinking about it. Definitely anybody who was hurt or offended by it, by any character or vocal performance, it’s really upsetting that that was hurtful to anybody. And I think it’s an important conversation, and one definitely worth having, so thanks for asking.”
This is a complex problem and will no doubt take time to work out an acceptable solution.
For his part, Kondabolu tweeted a few suggestions.
To @TheSimpsons Writers: Please do NOT remove Apu from The Simpsons. Killing him is lazy writing & an insult to the show’s legacy. Let him be upwardly mobile & own multiple Qwik E Marts. Let his kids talk. Plots have been repeating for years & tweaks provide tons of new stories.— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) December 4, 2017
Many folks appreciated this idea.
I love that your criticism of Apu is couched in love for the Simpsons— DebbyNYC (@DebbyNYC) December 4, 2017
“Let his kids talk” by bringing in writers of the same background to do the writing from their perspective.— ዳዊት Afeworki (@AfeDawit) December 4, 2017
Some people added their own story lines.
This was a great documentary and you had some amazing points. Is it possible that they could replace Hank with a real Indian-American and drop the accent? Or even bring back his nephew and have Apu retire and the next generation take over minus the accent?— James Creviston (@jamesdcreviston) December 4, 2017
Other people were angry about any changes.
Leftists: Apu is Racist, take him off— Torinosama (@trino) November 30, 2017
Apu gets taken off the show*
Leftists a week later: “why the Simpsons support white supremacy for not having diversity”
Just another way the liberals are ruining America— Juan & Steph Rosales (@RosalesArt1) December 5, 2017
Others saw through the racial stereotype to a full, rich character.
I agree w/ this piece. My parents are originally from India, growing up I thought it was cool to see an Indian dude in the Simpsons and liked the fact that he was actually a well rounded and fully developed character. 👍— Mik Drake (@MikDrake) December 4, 2017
i LOVE Apu!!!— cecilia (@ceciliavfx) December 4, 2017
He's a family man, hardworking, patient and, let's face it, funny. What's not to like?
We will all have to wait and see how the creators of The Simpsons deal with this over the next season.