Apu from “The Simpsons” May Be Dropped Amid Stereotyping Controversy
The controversy regarding Apu re-emerged after the show acknowledged and pushed back against the criticism it received over its portrayal of Apu in the show.
The long-running character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the popular show “The Simpsons” may finally be dropped as the portrayal of the character has faced viewer backlash for stereotyping the Indian-American community.
In a recent interview to Indiewire, producer Adi Shankar has stated that he has heard from multiple sources about the show’s intention of dropping the character of Apu from the show.
“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” he said, adding “They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy.”
The controversy regarding Apu, an Indian Kwik-E-Mart proprietor, re-emerged after the show acknowledged and pushed back against the criticism it received over its portrayal of Apu in the Apr. 8 episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” Previously, the issues were highlighted in a documentary, The Problem with Apu, created by the Indian American comedian Hari Kondabalu which talked in depth about the extreme stereotypical portrayal of the character.
Following the backlash surrounding Apu, Hank Azaria, the voice behind the character stated he is willing to “step aside” from voicing.
He addressed the controversy surrounding the character, during his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on April 25. “The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad,” Azaria told Colbert. “It was certainly not my intention. I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character, and the idea that it’s brought pain and suffering in any way, that it was used to marginalize people, it’s upsetting.”
Matt Reiss, the only original writer who is still involved with the show, told Vanity Fair that the show had faced the “Apu problem” in a 2016 episode, “Much Apu About Something,” and the character has “barely had a line in the past three seasons”, Indiewire noted.
Adi Shankar believes that the decision of withdrawing the character altogether could not be a solution to avoid the controversy as the show has been considered as a “social satire” for decades now.
“If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice,” said Shankar. “It’s not a step forward, or step backward, it’s just a massive step sideways. After having read all these wonderful scripts, I feel like sidestepping this issue doesn’t solve it when the whole purpose of art, I would argue, is to bring us together,” he told Indiewire.
There has been a mixed feeling in Twitter about withdrawing Apu.
While some welcomed the decision, many expressed that the show did not need to end the character just for the criticism it faced.
— Poz Str8 (@poz_str8) October 29, 2018
Apu is being axed from the Simpsons due to racial controversy. This is ridiculous. Please someone make a TV that rips the piss out of cultural stereotypes. Just so it triggers all the snowflakes, but they can't do shit cause it takes the piss out of everyone.
— NPCBrit (@BritManDan1) October 29, 2018
Now #TheSimpsons have finally seen the light and are erasing the stereotypical #Apu from the series, I hope they will now do the same with all the yellow characters who offend all people with jaundice.
— Lazlo Carreidas (@LazloCarreidas) October 29, 2018
@TheSimpsons please for the love of God allow the public to vote on removing Apu from the Simpsons. The public should decide what is acceptable to them not a minority of people who find something offensive.
— John (@John82267664) October 29, 2018
Earlier, Indian actor Priyanka Chopra commented on the character saying, “He was the bane of my life growing up”. The Indian actress, who was born in Jamshedpur, and received her high school education in the U.S. said, “I was always asked when I was in high school — like at 14, 15 — why I didn’t speak like that… I always had questions like that.”